10 tagged with #herbology

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growing season

every morning, i pass the shell of an old bike helmet, hung over the steps that lead outside. in it, i've placed two halved potatoes, the cut sides dusted with cornstarch. i whisper encouragement to them. thank you for working hard, please do your best, i appreciate your tries. some days, i peek in, and still feel anxious that they haven't sprouted tentative exploratory tendrils yet.

i never thought of myself as having a green thumb, but often things grow when i ask them to. sometimes, they die; a succulent withered under my care because i couldn't figure out what it needed, while countless leafy greens i hoped to eat were eaten into submission by cabbage worms i couldn't defeat. the worms need food, too.

15 May 2018 22:51


on april 16th, i filled an egg carton with good dirt and put four seeds into each pod. i labeled one side 'brocc' and the other side 'sprouts', for broccoli and brussel's sprouts, respectively; a dozen pods, 24 seeds of each type.

a week later, each pod had sprouted at least one curious leaf; several sprouted all four. one sprouted something unrecognizeable. i smiled.

over the next month, i prepared a space for them in the yard. i turned up sod, mixed in compost from the previous year's worth of yard and kitchen waste, marked off rows, put up chicken wire to deter ground-walking munchers.

yesterday, may 22nd, i had a bad scare after looking at my sprouts; all of them fell flat from dehydration. over the weekend, i had forgotten to give them attention, because i could hardly take care of myself. seedlings need a little bit of attention every day, and i had let them down.

i watered them apologetically and looked to the sky, hoping that the weather would break soon and let me introduce them to the earth.

today, i put my hands in the soil and smelled the richness of a month's worth of spring rain, microorganic work, and aspirations. it was time; i pulled the egg carton out and inspected it. a few of them had responded to my apology.

i only had enough plots prepared today for six plantings, so i took the three best candidates from each side. the pods with multiple viable seedlings will eventually be thinned to one; from 48 seeds, six plants will be coddled into maturity. i made little pits with a trowel, then carefully pressed each puck of dirt and seedling into the indentations.

dirt responds best to hands. i put my hands against the cool soil and felt the density of each mound, pressing drainage channels and slowly massaging bunkers around each seedling to shelter them. 'thank you,' i whispered to each one i chose. 'thank you for working hard. thank you for pressing upwards. here is the earth and there is the sky; you are now between them and a part of them. do your best. i love you.'

those cells have never touched the earth and have never seen the sun. they sit there now, poking out of the ground like periscopes. their roots will burrow further than i will ever see, and draw matter from the soil to create more of themselves to give to the sky.

if i am worthy, i will eat some of them in the future.

23 May 2016 20:41

To Ground

Seven pockets of three seeds each. It's early May, but the weather feels indistinguishable from early March. These Brussel's sprouts have a lot to work for; maybe they can do it, because they like the cold. But they still need some warmth to germinate. I'm leaving the country in two weeks and I do not know how they will handle life without me.

Nonsense, plants don't care. Plants don't have feelings. Plants don't notice when you ignore them; they work on a time scale so slow that nothing we do could possibly affect them.

But it does.

I want them to grow and do their best, even if I can't eat them afterwards.

03 May 2014 15:03

Taking Stock, Again

I only just remembered that I should think about planning and planting soon, despite the stubbornness of the season.

This past year was a low point in managing to eat what I grow; I missed the early part of the planting season, and was out of town too much to care for what I had in the dirt. Insects took a portion of the crop; construction on the porch took another. Too many freeze cycles have finally crushed the brussels sprouts that failed to thrive when I put them in the ground. I still hold out hope for the chives and green onions.

On hand, I have last year's leftover seeds and a packet of Oxheart tomatoes. The porch is back, and the front garden has spent a year recovering from the massive weeding endeavor. The spider plants are anxious for some room to spread out, and the geraniums have refused to die (much to my dismay). I'm expecting the usual influx of tomato seedlings and kale adolescents from my father, who cannot resist filling every available space on my porch with plants he personally coaxed out of the earth.

25 March 2014 12:14

Taking Stock

The kale didn't make it, the chives are probably still napping, the green onions are already shooting past their bindings, the broccoli is still missing, and the brussels sprouts do not appear to be dead.

This is only a quick thaw, and I hope the plants have more intuition about the season than I do. I'm still wringing my hands over the ice that is sure to be coating the trails.

21 February 2014 10:33

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