March 01, 2007

"Pack Up Your Seedies in Your Old Seed Bag and....

...Seed, seed, seed. Or was that "smile, smile, smile"? Well, why not have it both ways? Gathering together all the seeding equipment for a new season should bring a smile to any gardener's face. And if you're hearing the echoes of that "Boom!" in Baby Boom, it should also bring a twinge to your lower back a ping to those nerves in the back of your neck and an ooofah! to those sore rotator cuff muscles. Not to mention the snap, crackle and POP! of your knees. Did I mention that gnawing ache in your hip? (Sometimes I amaze myself that I manage to get out of bed in the morning. But, considering the alternatives....even crawling would be an option.)

It's at this time of the pre-growing season that I start to question my gardening fortitude. Maybe I should rethink all these cell packs soaking in the bathtub - over which I must bend my aching back and kneel on increasingly decrepit knees to clean the little black plastic buggers of last seasons soil remnants and possible pathogens? My enthusiasm increasingly wanes as I slog to thoughts of hauling wetted-down bags and containers of seed-starting mix. Did someone groan? Oh, that was me.

The least physical is usually relegated to a rainy, snowy, blustery, icy, nice-to-snuggle-inside-with-a-hot chocolate kind of day. The Annual Sorting of the Seeds. Culling my own saved from last year; organizing those newly purchased and making mental notations of the ones still in transit from the catalog companies. Peering through ice-covered windows, it's hard to envision planting out dates which were begat from hardening-off dates, from whence were calculated as a result of germination-dates which would discern appropriate seed-sowing dates. Coinciding with seeding commencement this year is the erection of my brand-spanking-new-portable greenhouse because it was just too cost prohibitive to invest in a permanent structure at this point. (*More on this later. Photos of husband in peril to come.*)

Initially I'd thought that this year there just wouldn't be adequate time for such "seedy" involvement under indoor gro lights. But, is there ever really enough time to do anything we really want to do? Is there ever really a right time for something bad or untoward to happen? Isn't there just a time when we finally run out of excuses - legitimate or otherwise - and simply have to take the plunge? You know, that proverbial "journey of a thousand miles"? And it's always a bigger plunge and a longer journey than we gardeners anticipate. Despite past seasons' history, we cling to illusions of control; that this season we'll keep a better handle on just how many little seedlings we'll opt to adopt. But, it's just that. An illusion. Somehow, some always manages to elude our alleged control and equally inexplicably, we always manage to adapt.

The other undeniable certainty of this whole seeding game is the natural progression of our commitment: You help bring these living entities into the world, and you nurture them. Protect them and stand at the doorway of the greenhouse as they venture off into the Big Backyard World, their lunchboxes of kelp meal and (hpefully) healthy soil under their leaves. How they fare under that open canopy of sky's school may solely depend on the environment from which they were bred and raised. After all, the seedling doesn't fall far from them what's seeded them. While you know the door to the greenhouse is always open should they ever need to return for some needed CPR (Critical Plant Resusitation), they've got to fend mostly for themselves. Sigh! Seeds. They grow up so fast!

Already adrift in reverie mingled with giddy (if not somewhat painful) anticiption, I am poised with my other arsenal of seed-starting staples: a bottle of Advils, heating pad revved up at full tilt, cats nearby for a quick pet to calm nerves and once again the three of us purring to the faint aroma of fish emulsion. Warmed by the rising heat from heat mats and a bank of flourescent fixtures grateful that for another season I've still got game... even if I'm barely covering the point spread these days.