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Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

Every year I do it.

You would think that after 5, 10 or even 20 years I would learn.

But no – I never will.  

At least, now I can admit it – this major flaw in my character.

I have no patience – especially when it comes to certain things.

It starts in January.   There could be a major ice storm wiping out power lines in a 3 state area, snow could be stacked 7 feet deep on the driveway, and the blizzard of the century could be howling outside the front door but all it takes is one garden catalog in the mailbox to push me over the edge.  I have to do it.  I can’t stop myself no matter how hard I try. 

I have to plant tomato seeds.

Maybe it’s the smell of fresh potting soil  or the fear that for the first time since the dawn of mankind, spring will come to South Dakota in February and I won’t be ready.   OK – I know that this will never happen but I am an old Boy Scout leader and I must be prepared at all times – I took the oath!!!

There is some warped sense of timing buried deep in my psyche – a biological clock with a wild, twisted spring that makes me start my tomato seeds way too early and the saddest part is – I do it every year.

By early February they’re in the soil and by the end of March they look like this.

 

I call it the tomato jungle.

And that’s not all – there is another problem.  Every year I tell myself I will only plant 12 tomatoes of a couple of varieties – which I do.  But that’s just the beginning, if I only plant 12 seeds and half of them don’t sprout I won’t have enough – right?  So I decide to plant 2 seeds in each cell. 

You do it too – come on – admit it. 

We’ve all read the books and the seed packages and in our minds we calculate the germination rates and the odds of survival.  After all, these are delicate living organiziums  – there’s no way they will all survive – not in a cold house with zero humidity and next to frosty window panes that barely let in any sun.  And then there’s the harsh reality of moving them outside where animals will eat some and step on others, hail stones will fall and late freezes will kill and then, if your like me, you have a husband who gets overzealous with the lawn mower and heavy equipment. 

We also have to figure in the age of the seed because we know for a fact that we have had this one particular package of tomato seeds for over 5 years.  Remember?   It was way cheaper to buy in bulk.  It’s a fact – seeds get old and every thing I have ever read says that when seeds get old they don’t germinate – it’s the law of nature and more importantly, it’s in black and white for pity sake – it must be true!   We know we are bound to lose more plants so just to be on the safe side, we decide to plant 3 seeds per cell. 

But for some unknown reason germination has never been a problem when it comes to tomato seeds.  Perhaps that ‘plant by’ date on the package is just a marketing plot to make us buy new seed every year? 

I wonder…

  Two years ago I planted tomato seeds that were 17 years old.  I found them in the bottom of a box of garden stuff.  The package was old enough to be sold on Ebay as an antique.  It had gotten wet, torn and was so filthy I could barely read what kind of seeds they were.  Some of them had slipped through the tattered package and drifted around the bottom of the box for several years.  They had been frozen, overheated and probably exposed to harsh chemicals so I knew they wouldn’t grow but I planted them anyway.  It was a miracle…  those little seeds were just waiting to touch real soil and once they did – they grew!  I would bet I had 99% germination from those hardy little buggers.  Of course – thinking that none would grow –  I had planted all of them so we were blessed with 86 tomato plants.  We didn’t need 86 tomato plants but I had to keep them – these spunky little plants had waited 17 years for their one chance to grow and I just didn’t have the heart to pull them out by their tiny little roots.  I couldn’t let them die a slow painful death of dehydration – could you? 

 I didn’t think so.   So I transplanted them all. 

And in March I transplanted them again… 

 And they grew into a Jungle on the living room floor….

And when spring finally came (around mid June) I planted them outside…

And we did get a few tomatoes.

 

I must admit, this picture was taken after we had given away or sold at least half of them.  After awhile, the neighbors and relatives quit stopping and people would turn the other way when I met them on the street.  It was worse than a plague of zucchini.  We had tomatoes in the corner of the living room for almost two months and as unbelievable as it seems, almost every one of them ripened – maybe because of the heated floor.  I canned tomatoes, I made spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, froze them, dried them.    It was a scary tomato year.

And did I learn from this year of tomato gluttony? 

You be the judge – here’s a picture of the living room floor today.

 

138 tomato plants. 

I’m so ashamed.

Is there a support group for this?

 

 

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There were 6 seed catalogs in the mail yesterday – can you believe it?  6 of them!!!  And each one chock full of every new weird and wonderful garden seed you can imagine.  There are peppers every color of the rainbow, gourds that look like snakes and my all time favorite – pumpkins the size of Volkswagens!  And Sweet Corn – did I mention I love Sweet Corn?  And tomatoes, and peas, and squash, and lettuce, and cucumbers, and beets, and turnips, and onions, and beans, and eggplant, and okra which I don’t know how to cook but I grow anyway just because of the beautiful flowers.  I love seed catalogs – know why?

Is it because I love to garden?  No.

Is it because I love the smell of black dirt in the morning?  No.

Is it because this year I know my garden will look like the International Peace Gardens and weeds will not dare to sprout beneath my feet? 

 No.  I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

Is it because there were 6 seed catalogs and no bills  in the mailbox so I’m secretly wondering if we got someone elses mail instead of our own? 

No, No, NO!!!  It’s because…  It has to be…  It must be my favorite time of year – its spring!!!

Time to dust off and crank up the Troy Built Workhorse rototiller.  Time to clean all the stuff out of the garden shed and lay down the soaker hoses.  Time to stop at every greenhouse at every department store I see.  Time for green grass and tiny spring flowers and flowering bulbs bursting forth from the rich, black soil of the front flowerbed.  Time for baby skunks to be born under the porch step (hey, it happens) and butterflies to flutter passed the windows.  Time for baby calves to fill the pastures and frolic in the wildflowers.

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz – I wonder where the birdies is???

How come I didn’t see it coming.  Spring really snuck up on me this year.  Ha!  I have been busy what with work and all.  Why, it seems like just last week it was Christmas but the seed catalogs are here and that’s enough proof for me.  You know how fast time flies.  You turn around and the whole year has zipped past.  Yep, I’m sure that’s what happened.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Oh, I hear your sighs of doubt – clear out here in SD I hear them.  You don’t believe in the power of the seed catalog to predict the coming of spring. 

Oh yee of little faith.

No really, it must be.  Seed companies wouldn’t lie, not to me. I’m one of their best customers.  They’ve been in business for hundreds of years – they know things that your every day ‘hoe-hum’ gardener doesn’t.   They are the holy grail of the soil and compost world.  They wouldn’t lead me on by sending me glossy catalogs filled with full-color, close up shots of flowers that are so beautiful you can almost smell them if it wasn’t time to garden.  Would they? 

Would they???

That would be rude, crude and socially unacceptable.

But just to satisfy you and not because I don’t trust them, I will go to the window and check it out –  just to make you happy…

 

 Oh dear…  It doesn’t look to good to the East.

To the North?  Well, there’s my garden tractor getting buried with snow.

West?  The greenhouse is just a shell of its former self.  How about South?

 

It’s not looking good here either.  And what about the front flowerbed?

 

So much for the tiny spring flowers and bulbs bursting forth from the rich, black soil.

Seed companies – you should be ashamed of yourselves!

 

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