Never in my life have I been successful at starting seedlings. Well, I take that back. One time I was successful, but it was the great poppy explosion of ’08 that resulted from my dumping an entire package of seedlings on the ground and them sprouting up like little firework explosions. Anytime I’ve tried to actually do it in an orderly fashion. Total dud.
When we moved into this house, the gardens were pristine and there was a beautiful kitchen windowsill just begging for plant life. I never managed to get an herb garden going in the last place, and my cooking was suffering for it. I thought I was ready to try again. Of course, I made this decision just as every nursery was done with selling their summer herbs. My only choice was to try seeds.
I bought some beautiful pots, I read my garden books, I took a deep breath and prepared to try again. And this time? I did it. I got seedlings up from every kind of seed I planted. And they sprouted, and they grew, and they kept growing, weak and spindly little things reaching for the sun like a man in the desert stretching for an oasis mirage. Apparently my sweet little kitchen windowsill does not get very much direct sunlight. And my seedlings were starving.
I’ve been spending time with a sweet friend of mine, an older man I go to church with. He and I became fast friends when I first moved back to Modesto. He just gets me. After years of being friends with him, I discovered he has a PhD in horticulture. Although he now works in sales, he spent most of his career performing in vitro fertilization on garlic strains to breed a variety more resistant to fungus. He is literally an expert on growing food. So every Wednesday, he’s been coming over to give me little lessons. He was the one who explained why my seedlings were so leggy and what I needed to do to save them. He picked a spot in my backyard for a compost pile and told me how to manage it. We went back to my old house where he talked the new renters into letting us in the backyard to cut some roses, and then he showed me how to propagate them. We have big plans for building elevated grow boxes where they’d get the most sun, propagating new grape vines from some existing in the backyard, and growing berries in the tiniest of spaces.
Some day I’ll have a farm where I grow every kind of food. My first step was to take those sad little seedlings out of the windowsill and plant them in a sunny spot. Hopefully they’ll take off and I can add a new skill in preparation for my big future.