Garden Confessions

DSC_0097True confessions – I have not yet started a single seed for this season.

That’s right. Here it is the second week of March and there isn’t any sign of potting soil, seed pots or grow lights.

Nada.

Nothing.

And what’s worse – I haven’t even ordered my seeds yet.

Nope.

Not even one.

Last year’s garden was such a dismal, wet disaster that it’s hard to think about starting again.

I worked so hard and got so little in return.

A year ago I was filled with hope and expectation – it was going to be the best garden year ever!

But rain and more rain and even more rain drowned most of the vegetables and my excitement.

The weeds and bugs took care of the rest.

Nope, not gonna do it again.

But it feels like spring.

The sun is shining.

The temperatures are climbing and the warm breezes are stirring something deep inside.

You know… it’s not too late to start peppers and tomatoes…

…they are forecasting an early spring…

…and I can’t harvest what I don’t plant.

Besides, what would summer be without fresh from the garden veggies?

Okay – where’s my Baker Creek Seed Catalog?

I hope the tam jalapeno seeds haven’t sold out yet!

Do I still have potting soil?

Maybe there’s a flicker of hope in this gardener’s heart after all.

 

Showing Restraint

SeedsYesterday was a happy day. 🙂

I finally got to play in the dirt.

I’m not sure why it took so long to get my seeds started this year – but they are done now and sitting pretty in the sun room.

I check them every hour or so – just in case they sprouted already.

You should be proud of me – I actually showed great restraint in my planting.

Well – at least as far as tomatoes go.

I only planted thirty-six instead of my usual 50-60. But now I’m wondering if that’s enough? Maybe I should have planted more?

No worries about peppers though. I’ve planted seven different kinds. Five sweet varieties and two hot.

I guess I’m kind of obsessed with peppers right now.

And not just me! Jan ate a new variety over the weekend that he loved so much he spent a few hours researching it.

He finally found seeds in Ohio and bought me some.

He’s wonderful like that!

Now I just need to wait for them to come so I can plant them.

And for everything to grow.

And the ground to warm up.

And the Amish greenhouse to open so I can buy more plants and more seeds!

So I can plant more things!

I told you I was showing great restraint this year. 😉

PS: The seeds haven’t sprouted yet – I just checked again.

Sowing Seeds Part 2

DSC_0097Buddy and I have been watching our flats of seeds very carefully to see any signs of life.

The broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and eggplant came up quickly, followed by the tomatoes.

But the entire flat of peppers remained barren.

There was no change.

A niggling of concern entered my mind.

Another week passed.

No sprouts.

Concern turned to worry as I envisioned an entire year without jalapeno and fresh peppers.

Every day we studied the dirt filled holes searching for any signs of life.

Finally – today – we saw our first tiny sprout.

And then another, and another.

Such a relief.

I was powerless to make those seeds sprout.

I had done all I could do. I planted. I watered. I kept them warm. And I waited.

It’s the waiting that’s hard.

God understands.

He said in Mark 4: 26-29 – “…This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

“All by itself the soil produces grain.”

I can’t break open each seed and force the spouts out.

I can’t pull each sprout into a stalk or create a head.

I cannot create or ripen one piece of fruit.

But I can plant.

I can prepare the soil.

I can water.

And I can wait.

Because the soil itself will produce the grain.

Everyday we have the opportunity to sow seeds of kindness, of love, of grace, of forgiveness.

But we cannot make those seeds sprout.

Or grow.

Or produce fruit.

Sometimes we want to dig in the soil a little and see if there’s any life. We want to force growth, create change.

But we are powerless.

We plant the seed.

And wait.

 

Seed Starting Craziness

You’ll never guess what I did all last week!

Well, okay – maybe you will. After all – I have admitted to buying 63 packages of seeds – in addition to all the tomato and pepper seeds I mail-ordered. 🙂

SeedYes, I’ve been starting seeds.

Many, many of them!

Four kinds of tomatoes, sweet peppers, lots of the amazing Tam jalapenos, a new purple jalapeno, the dreaded ghost pepper, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, and 2 kinds of broccoli.

Oh – and several herbs too!

Seed flatsI got the plastic seed trays and inserts last year at Menard’s for half price.  We weren’t sure they would make it two years – but a little strategically placed duck tape should help us make one more season!

I got a good potting soil from the Amish store since my friend Carolyn said it was the best!

Once the seeds are planted the only thing I need to do is keep them moist. That’s the easy part.

Things get a little trickier when they start to sprout! Then they need light and warmth and lots of it.

I prefer using sunlight – but with this many plants started, we don’t have enough southern windows! Thankfully we do have 2 grow lights to use.

Then I water, rotate and generally fuss over the seedlings.

The object is to keep them alive and healthy until the temperature is right in the garden to take them out.

Sometimes I need to re-pot them into bigger containers so that they have room to keep growing.

Once the weather is warm enough to get them outside during the day – we take the flats out and sit them in the sunshine.

hardening off plantsMaking sure they are well-protected from marauding chickens and cats, of course! This “hardens”  them off and prepares them ready for the real world – the garden.

So why do I go to all the trouble to start my own plants from seeds? After all – I could just go buy them.

For one thing – it saves us a lot of money. When you plant in bulk – as we do – the cost of plants adds up. The over 50 tomato plants growing in my basement now cost us pennies, yet they will hopefully yield a year’s worth of spaghetti sauce, ketchup, tomato sauce and salsa.

Then there’s the variety. It’s so much fun choosing new kinds of seeds to try! Besides – the only way I can grow the wonderful tam jalapenos is if I buy the seeds and start them myself!

But mostly – I just love doing it! 🙂

I’ve linked this post up with the Tuesday Garden Party over at An Oregon Cottage.

A Time to Plant…

plantsI planted seeds yesterday. Lots and lots of seeds.

468 to be exact.

(My mathematical son counted them.)

I may have gone overboard just a little bit. If everything germinates we may need to triple the size of the garden. 🙂

I’m like a kid in a candy store when I stand in the seed aisle at Menard’s: honey dew melon, 3 kinds of watermelons, 3 kinds of muskmelons, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, summer squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, the list goes on and on…

Then there was my Baker Creek Heirloom Seed order for the most wonderful jalapeno peppers ever (Tam Jalapeno) and three different kinds of tomatoes ( Sioux, Amish Paste, and Rutgers).

That’s what a long winter does to a gardener – they snap in the seed aisle come spring.

Although – I’m not sure I should actually call myself a gardener.

My Amish neighbors would just roll their eyes in disbelief if they saw our operation. They actually know the date of the last expected frost and carefully time their plantings to line up with it.

But not me.

Oh no – I planted everything at once. Everything. Tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, and squash. The whole kit-and-caboodle went into pots yesterday.

I think I’m about 2 weeks late with the peppers and tomatoes and at least 2 weeks early with the melons.

Please don’t tell.

I’m sure there’s no garden police to fine me for such haphazard practices – but one cannot be too sure!

And while I’m confessing – can I add that most of these plants will get set out at the same time as well. (Oh dear – I think I heard some of you gasp in shock!)

Now you know the reason why my garden is behind the house and can’t be seen from the road! 🙂

I wouldn’t want a passing Amish buggy to gawk at my gardening attempts or look in horror as I get my broccoli in the ground just about the time they are harvesting.

I’m sure there’s a science to planting a garden – but then – I never was any good at science.  Then there’s the math involved in figuring plants per rows and frost dates – and you all know I hate to borrow and carry.

No – I like words.  I may not have the most perfect garden in our neighborhood – but I can tell you how I feel about it.

I love the smell and feel of warm dirt in my hands.

I love the sun on the back of my neck and the breeze blowing through the hair.

I love the taste of a fresh ear of corn, the juice of that first ripe tomato, the satisfaction of serving the produce we grew ourselves to my family.

I love the sound of the canning jar as it “pings” its seal before I line them on the shelves ready for the winter.

I love seeing my kids learn the value of hard labor – that it feels really good to sweat.

And that my friend, works just fine for me!

I’ve linked this post up with the Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.