An Act of Faith
June 19, 2010 § 5 Comments
Gardening is an act of faith. And for non-religious me, that’s quite a statement.
But really, I feel that there’s no other way to describe gardening than to call it a miracle. You take seeds, these miniscule things, stick them in the ground, water and feed them, and then wait. And 5 or 10 or many days later, depending on the seed, you witness life unfurling in a skinny stem and little leaves. They soak up the sun, the water, the nutrients in the soil, and they grow what gardeners all call “true leaves”, becoming their big selves.
The cycle continues, through flowering and more seeds, and nature does what it’s always done. (Well, aided in the garden by a nurturing human who wants tasty produce so will coddle the plants with things like seaweed emulsion and tomato food and protective gear.)
It’s been interesting to see which plants are fussy and which will thrive just fine on their own, thank you. Take tulips, dahlias and mesclun.
I had tulip bulbs that my old work team gave me six months ago, which were moldering in my pantry until my in-laws saw them during their April visit and suggested I stick them in a pot of dirt to see what would happen. Now, mind you, tulips are supposed to be planted in the fall to blossom in the spring. I planted these on the exact opposite timeline and stuck the pot in a far but sunny corner of the yard. The day after I planted them, it was clear that a cat or raccoon tried digging up the bulbs but got bored. I smoothed the dirt over again. Then, I promptly forgot about them, as my gardening time tends to focus single-mindedly on my edibles. And yet, up through the dirt emerged tulip greenery.
Or the dahlias. My father-in-law kindly bought me a small plastic bag of dahlia tubers at Lowe’s when he was visiting, just for kicks. We had no idea if they were actually going to grow, as my in-laws — who grow a field of dahlias every summer and give away gorgeous bouquets to people who need that simple beauty in their lives — purchase their bulbs at dahlia specialists like Swan Island. But I followed Swan Island’s instructions, watering and fertilizing and waiting, and the plants did their thing, breaking through the soil, growing strong and producing their first flower buds in 7.5 weeks.
And the mesclun. That stuff grows like crazy. The seeds are tiny specks, and yet, in 5 days, tiny two-leaf seedlings emerge…
…and 8 days later, they’re growing their true leaves…
…and 5 days later, it’s starting to resemble a miniature lettuce patch…
…and 9 days later, it’s almost ready to harvest! It’s also protected from birds, cats and the other wildlife that seems to enjoy our garden by my makeshift guard of sharp, pointy sticks (a.k.a., bamboo barbecue skewers). More on wildlife in a later post.