Finding Order by Planting Seeds

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.    John Muir

There is a verse in Ecclesiastes which says,” a time to plant a time to mourn.”

This would seem to be a good time for both.

img_3580I’m always amazed that every spring no matter what mess the human race has gotten itself into, the crocus pop up in their bright colors followed by daffodils, and fabulous tulips in my yard.

I planted cool crops such as peas, kale, onions & lettuce earlier than usual this spring.  It seemed more urgent to get things growing as we face this Covid 19 pandemic.  The growing of plants affirms order in an uncertain world.

The first garden I grew was when I was a college student in N. CaliforniaIMG_2158.  I grew up in suburbia and had never grown anything except an avocado tree from an avocado seed (which was actually pretty exciting).  Each student in my horticulture class was given a garden plot.  Our semester-long project was to grow a vegetable garden.  I remember being so nervous as I planted the seeds in my plot- were the seeds deep enough, too close together, watered too much, or not enough?  To my delight, everything came up and I feasted late in the spring and summer.  I discovered that seeds wanted to grow. I still peak every day to see what seedlings might have emerged from my garden plantings- such a delight when they do.

As a 6th-grade science teacher I purchased a grow light and had my students plant pea seeds in paper cups they filled with soil.  Every day they would come in and check their “pet peas” and such a hubbub when those pea sprouts poked their heads out of the soil!  Of course, they named them. Eventually, they proudly brought their pet peas home complete with a blossom on the plant.  This was cheap magic and full of learning opportunities.

If you (or your children) need a little magic in your life right now, go out and buy some seeds, soil and plant them in pots or even paper cups.  Flowers like zinnias and marigolds are very easy to grow- or if you are more ambitious, try a tomato. Water and place in a sunny location in your home and in 7 days or so watch the show begin. You will not be disappointed.IMG_2148

In Every Seed a Promise

A germ of possibility

Tucked into a tiny package

Waiting to unfurl its cotyledons

Up in the sunlight

From the depths of fertile ground

 

The sprout will grow vigorously

With the right conditions

Beneath the sun’s rays and the spring rains

With the breath of nature whispering

“grow, grow”

 

Tend it with care

Lest it be choked by weeds or eaten by pests

Then feast from your labors

and natures’ mystery

The wonder of a tiny bit of matter

That waited to reveal its purpose

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The Artful Garden

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.

— May Sarton

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It’s hard to imagine that in March my garden was seven big wood boxes full of brown soil, a blank canvas so to speak.  Now it’s a tangle of vines and plants that spill over those same boxes. There are five varieties of bushy tomato plants, at least as tall as me.  The bean teepee, full of romano beans, towers over six feet tall.  There is kale, chard, dill, hot peppers, onions, cucumbers, basil, zucchini, strawberries, beets, cardoons, sunflowers, and marigolds.  Two of the beds are now empty, the garlic being harvested earlier in July.  The peas have died back and the lettuce and arugula have gone to seed.

Planting a garden is a statement of hope, sowing seeds that bear the promise of food and Garden Basket2.2flower.

Planting a garden is a creative act, painting with a palette of plants, considering what varieties will complement the other, then executing the plan with hoe and shovel instead of a brush.

Planting a garden is work.  The soil must be amended, supports constructed, seeds and starts planted.  Then the beds must be mulched, watered, weeded and then harvested.  But then the payoff is the abundance of delicious fresh food it provides for the rest of the summer.

Garden Basket3Planting a garden is an alchemy of human interaction with natural processes.

A garden does not need to be big or complicated.  Even a couple of tomato plants on the porch or herbs on the window sill is better than nothing.   It’s gratifying to tend plants and watch them grow. For children, it’s an especially enriching experience.  To be able to feed oneself and share the bounty with others is powerful.  Gardening is an anchor to the Earth. You don’t get that from a grocery store.

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