Wednesday, October 26, 2011

starting seeds

Something besides good soil and seed is living in the mini greenhouse. 

My seed starter is a common piece of garden equipment available at any hardware or nursery but it is also as precious as a church. It is a humble relation of the fern cases beloved by the Edwardians. An even earlier incarnation was used by Cook to travel exotics from the New World to the Old. I love its venerable pedigree although mine is three plastic parts shipped in quantity from China. Every season I clean it and fill it and sow seed with a renewed mix of respect, hope and impatience. I write out labels with a waterproof pen. I check the whole business daily. 

Once a seed shucks its hard coat and shows the first tender shoot there are adjustments to be made. Sometimes I open one vent and leave the other be. Sometimes I travel the whole box into the sun. Fussing over it today I notice a deal of damage. Something has breached the security of the closely fitted lid. It is something that likes the young leaves of several sorts of bean. I dismantle the whole thing. There are three snails and a millipede in the water reservoir. They are well fed and slothful looking when uncovered. They are evicted. My hopes for an early crop are dashed but at this stage of spring I am willing to start over.

I clean out the seed tray – fill it with fresh soil. I poke a finger into each compartment and drop in purple podded peas and ying yang beans – the broad beans have survived albeit with slug-cropped leaves but they will do. The miniature cucumbers never showed up. M has rattlesnake, soy and scarlets runners in his hot house and is ready to set them out. It’s not officially a race between us but we are fierce about our babies. So far I have French breakfast radishes to thin and a good supply of table greens. Like I say it is not a contest….

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