Thursday, March 5, 2009

Seedlings are up. Gravity is Down.

My niece came for a visit the weekend I started seeds in the basement. She's my brother's daughter. My brother had the misfortune to be born the year our family moved away from Iowa. He grew up without the backyard garden where raspberries and rhubarb came up every year but peas had to be planted in the ground and tomatoes had to be started indoors when snow still covered the ground. "Snow is fertilizer." At least that's what our teacher told us.

But back to planting seeds.  My niece had never planted seeds. She didn't know important things like one radish seed grows one radish, but one tomato seed grows dozens and dozens of tomatoes. I hereby state my public endorsement of seedling trays that have a reservoir of water underneath so you can go a week or more without watering. My niece takes trips and wanted to be sure her plants wouldn't die in her absence.  My niece actually read the instructions on the seed packets and planted the seeds at the recommended depths.  I meanhile, pressed the bigger seeds under the dirt and the tiny ones, like strawberries, just sprinkled on top.

Then it happened. Lateral gravity struck.  We have lateral gravity in our house. Every now and then things leap off of tables or shelves and tumble or spill onto the floor below. My niece's seedling tray fell victim to a surge of lateral gravity.  My brother is an engineer and he doesn't believe in such things as lateral gravity.  Instead he believes in getting upset when things fall unexpectedly.  My niece was upset to see her dirt and seedling tray on the floor of our dining room.  I had to reasure her that GRAVITY is the most common swear word in our house. And we know what to do about it.  We pick up what fell. I got the dirt back into the tray. She planted more seeds  and we held everything together with rubberbands.  That's one way to fool the gravitons.

It's now a month later and we have seedlings.  At this stage tomatoes and peppers look alike.  Only later will the tomato leaves become furry. My brother may have missed out on the richness of  Iowa soil and the joy of harvesting fresh veggies.  But his daughter, who lives in a big city  apartment has seedlings on her windowsill.  The heritage of an Iowa farm girl continues.

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