Thursday, May 14, 2009
Spring, seeds, and me
It is gardening season like never before around our house! As I sat soaking in the sun on a "backyard picnic" with Rachel today, I looked at the rows of lettuce in our little planter with amazement. See, I've never grown lettuce that made beyond about two inches tall. This year, it's made it through thinning and is pushing seven or eight inches so far. All pretty amazing considering that the seeds are about the size of half a tiny ant. (That's my "baby spinach" up on top.)
This will be our third summer in a house with a (little) yard, and our third attempt at growing vegetables. In fact, we expanded by renting a bit of land from the park district this year too, which means if all goes well I will consider myself a bona fide LA-born farmer by the end of summer.
Now, as much as I've learned to love all-you-can-eat-cherry-tomatoes by the fence and green beans that were just picked, I still loathe planting seeds. Especially the little ones. And especially for the first time. Lettuce is really annoying. Carrots are too. As I planted a 30-foot row of them at our park garden, I am sure that my complaints and nay-saying about their chances of growing could be heard for miles. It was at least loud enough to warrant many groans and "pleeease stop complaining's" from John.
Whether the lettuce keeps growing and the carrots ever grow, I was thinking today about something that we've talked about around our house a lot lately. The only seeds that don't grow are the ones that don't get planted (OK, with the exception of the sprouting onions and potatoes in my pantry). Jobs that aren't applied for aren't gotten. Funding for John's research that isn't requested stands no chance of being granted. Respectful kids don't just happen.
That said, the act of planting seeds is incredibly un-rewarding (though at least it only takes a season to get some fruit!). Add to that the fact that only about one in ten of my lettuce seeds make it to maturity, and you may glimpse why I complain. Seeds of kindness, faith, you name it, those are pretty un-rewarding planting endeavors too, taking years to grow, and the fruit isn't found in my backyard! Having little kids might be compared to planting a garden for years - and having very little idea what might grow in it...
Besides the non-gratification that planting seeds bring me, planting (never mind all that soil prep, watering, and seedling care) takes a lot faith that something will come of that seed. Excuses for not planting are much easier to come by than reasons to set myself up for a failed gardening attempt.
But in spite of myself, I think longingly of last summer's tomatoes (or just visit the grocery store!), or I'm the recipient of kind words from a friend. I'm suddenly reminded to be thankful that some farmer or parent had the foresight and ethic to plant those tiny seeds long ago. I'm inspired to plant for the future, in spite of the work and the odds. I realize that the only way to raise my odds above zero is to put _something_ into the ground.
Come on over later this summer, and hopefully I'll pass on a bit of my own inspiration to you - in the form of a home-grown garden salad!