Bearing Fruit: Garden Musings

We’re taking a break from talking about food and budgets. I’m an avid gardener, and it’s time to start this year’s vegetable garden. A “blessed event” this morning inspired the following thoughts:

My lettuce seedlings are coming up! Seeing those tiny cotyledons spread under the plant lights always gives me a thrill. This year is no different. After months of stark leafless branches and brown fields, anything green is a treat. Plus, there’s the promise of salad in those tiny leaves.

In a strange way, this is my favorite time to garden. In my tiny indoor plot of germinating plants, there are no bugs. No hail comes to flatten the fragile seedlings. No dry winds, or freezing temperatures. My growing conditions are as close to perfect as I can make them. This is a great place to be if you’re a baby plant.

Next month, when the chance of frost lessens (it doesn’t really end until well into June), when the garden soil is thawed, amended, turned, and weeded, when spring is actually here, I’ll plant these maturing plants outside. They can only grow so much in their starter cells. Outside, their roots can expand into the fertile soil. Of course, outside, there are insects waiting to eat holes in the leaves. Rabbits just chew off the entire plant, and that’s only if the frost, hail, torrential thunderstorms, and hot dry winds leave anything to be chewed. Life out in the garden is risky. The plants would probably rather spend the summer safely in the house.

But in the house, they will never mature and bear a crop. I don’t plant tomatoes or squash just to make my garden look nice. In fact, I go to quite a lot of trouble and expense to give those tiny seeds a chance at being fruitful. (My husband claims our zucchini cost around $65 each, by the time you include all the related garden expenses.) Plants that remain in their germination pots, due to gardener neglect or lack of garden space, eventually become stunted and die. There is a cost to producing fruit. There is a greater cost to not trying.

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