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In Anticipation of Seedlings

 

In a few days it’ll officially be spring. I’ve been anxiously waiting for it since February’s dreary beginning. It feels like I’ve waited forever for winter to end, for the sun to shine again and the daffodils to bloom. Spring, we NEED you! I can feel it coming on everywhere now, and that means it’s time to think gardening.

 

Raymond and I got our corn and tomato seeds planted last Sunday. We managed it in a drizzle of rain, but we weren’t about to wait any longer. I check them every day, even though I know it’s still to soon for anything to germinate. At the moment they’re all settled nicely on a pine table in the kitchen looking very much like little pots of dirt. But I know there’s something wonderful happening down inside those little pots. This is veg gardener’s Christmas. This is anxiously checking the packages every day waiting for the gift, waiting for the surprise. And no matter how many times I’ve watched that germination process, it always is a wonderful surprise.

 

Here in the Soft South, with spring teasing and titillating us with delicious glimpses, it’s easy to catch the gardening bug. The beds have been weeded and this weekend they’ll be ready to dig. I’m truly excited for the first time since we exhausted ourselves in an allotment too big for us and, after two years of hard labour, had to give it up because it was just too much.

 

While the allotment experience was a disappointment, it was really no surprise. I’m greedy and biting off more than I can chew is my signature move. But this year the little pots on the pine table and the familiar comfy plot in our back garden seem less of a chore and more of a labour of love. This year I feel the waxing of the seasons and the need to touch the earth in a way that I haven’t for awhile. Creativity is played out in so many different ways, and there isn’t a more powerful metaphor for the creative process than growing vegetables. Being a part of the process, seeing it, touching it, and taking it into ourselves makes me feel connected to something greater than myself, something as old as time and as much of a mystery. Even though we understand the science of it, that doesn’t diminish the magic of planting a seed and getting a feast.

 

Every day now it’s light earlier, and the Dawn Chorus has begun in earnest. Every day now I wake up to the black bird’s song, and I find myself wondering, anticipating, what will grow, what will be born in the lengthening of days and the warming of the earth. Growing veg has a way of reminding me of my own creative efforts and how tied they are to my own waxings and wanings. As the season advances I’ll probably share way more pics of corn and beans and tomatoes than you could ever hope to see. And somehow amidst the compost and pots and plants and veg, hopefully some of that creativity will find its way into me and into the stories I tell.

 

Getting My Hands Dirty

The mini greenhouse all clean with new covers. Seedlings in the first one.

I drive myself crazy writing sometimes. I’m tunnel-visioned, and I don’t always know when to call a halt. I’ve kept my head down for the first three months of this year. I’ve written hard, and long, and lots — plus the PR. But there comes a time when a girl just has to get her hands dirty before she can write another word. This is that time!

My husband and I spent a good chunk of our day working in our veg patch – well our future veg patch. At the moment there are only a few over-wintering cauliflower and broccoli plants remaining, and a strawberry patch sorely in need of cleaning. At the moment the whole of 2012’s veg garden can be contained in two large draining trays and part of one mini greenhouse, all zipped in for extra warmth. But in a few months, my-oh-my, you won’t recognize the place. We’ll have sweet corn higher than our heads, tomato plants ladened with a dozen different varieties from all over the tomato growing world; we’ll have tee-pees of climbing beans and peas, vines of yellow and green courgettes and multiple varieties of brassicas. That’s not even counting the soft fruit and the dwarf root stock apple trees. I know, I know! Now I’m just bragging!

We’ve got trays of seeds planted and sitting on water bottles in the kitchen (our low tech, unorthodox

Newly planted seeds all toasty on their water bottles.

system to speed up germination.) What has already germinated has had a week or two to grow on in the house and was transplanted today into our mini greenhouses, which are now soaped, scrubbed and sporting new plastic covers. My husband has potted eight large pots of seed potatoes (with our limited space, we grow spuds in pots), and the dreaming and scheming of what will go where is well under way.

As we scrubbed and planted and labelled seed trays, the resident blackbird made short work of any worms that were uncovered as we cleaned the patio and did a bit of weeding in the main bed. He and the Mrs are feeding chicks, so he came and went, each time filling his beak full to overflowing. When he wasn’t hunting and gathering, he was perched in the ash trees above our garden singing loudly just in case any other blackbird should doubt this this nice piece of real estate, where he gets fed currents and meal worms on demand, belongs to him. I hope my timing is good. I hope that by the time the chicks fledge I’ll have large courgette leaves and tee-pees ladened in runner beans for them to scurry about underneath and hide.

Ready to go to the greenhouses

The whole back garden is alive. There are three starling nests in the eaves and a nuthatch coming and going on a regular basis, as well as tits and doves and wood pigeons, who brazenly nip at the leaves of the cauliflower plants whenever they feel like it.

My husband has convinced the people who run the canteen at his office to save him their coffee grounds. All winter long, several times a week he came home bearing a large yellow plastic bucket full of coffee grounds, which he spreads over the garden. We joked about the worms being hyped up on caffeine. And I still smile to think about my husband, the very dapper business man, walking to and from his office several times a week carrying a large yellow bucket.

Tonight I feel better. Tonight I feel more like my writerly self again. What is it about

I'm anticipating

getting my hands in the earth that is so healing? Perhaps it’s a different kind of creativity, a kind in which I’m really only a facilitator. I can make sure the conditions are right. But what it takes for a paper thin, nearly weightless, not much bigger than the head of a pin, tomato seed to grow into a chest-high plant ladened with heavy, meaty, luscious fruit, well that’s something else altogether, and something that astounds me and amazes me every single time it happens. A new season is just beginning. The process is just getting started, and I’m like a kid at Christmas time, just waiting for it all to unfold again.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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