It’s time to get some varieties of seed in the ground. Most seed packets have a growing guide on the back telling the gardener when to plant, where to plant, how deep to plant, how tall the mature plant will grow and how many days until harvest if the seeds are for a food crop. Usually, there is also a date printed along one end of the seed packet. That date is the limit of the expected viability of the seed; in other words – the expiration date of the seed. After that date, the percentage of seeds that will germinate, spout and grow decreases steadily as time passes.
Starting seeds indoors is a terrific way to survive winter. Seeing little bits of green life during late February into March gives me hope that Spring is just around the corner. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room in our house for starting seeds. We have a garden window over the kitchen sink where I can set an egg carton full of starting mix and seeds. We had a homebuilt greenhouse for several years (built from old house windows). We were able to grow 16 flats of vegetables and flowers. However, the moisture inside the greenhouse caused the wood framing to rot and we had to tear it down. I really miss that thing!
Some of my best surprises and worst frustrations are what gardeners call “volunteers”. Some plants can “self-seed” and come up again far more prolifically the next year. Heirloom varieties are the most likely to produce new plants identical to the seed donor. Hybrids are another story. Depending on what genes came together to produce the specific hybrid variety, volunteers from hybrid seeds could be happy accidents or useless, mutant plants good only for the compost pile. Then there are invasive volunteers; those plants that pop up everywhere you don’t want them. Lemon Balm fits in this category. Another invasive nuisance is Physostegia virginiana commonly known as “Obedient Plant” or “False Dragonhead”. The name “obedient” is deceptive. This plant spreads rapidly both by roots underground and popping seed pods like other members of its mint family. These trouble makers are best keep contained to prevent them from becoming a bigger part of your garden than you were bargaining for. Hedge bindweed is one of the worst volunteers. This morning glory clone chokes everything in its path as it grows at least an inch a day, its roots are almost impossible to dig up and its seeds are viable for decades.
I’ve learned a lot of life skills from gardening and growing things from seed; things like patience, consistency, conscientiousness, perseverance. It’s no coincidence the Bible contains dozens of verses about seeds, soil and care of gardens. What I sow and when, where and how I sow it not only pertains to seeds and what kind of garden I have; it also determines what kind of life I have. Like invasive plants that take over a garden or seeds that never sprout, sowing the wrong things in my life or sowing things at the wrong time or in the wrong way can make a real mess of my garden of life.
© 2018 Curt Savage Media curtsavagemedia.com