Seedy Dealings

By November 12, 2010 My Garden 4 Comments

I wish I grew more stuff from seed.

I have, as of this writing, grown stuff from seed exactly three times, not including the time I germinated corn in a wet paper towel in grade school. Of those, the sunflowers were eaten by deer/woodchucks/bunnies and the butterfly weed was carefully planted in their little peat pots, which were instantly rained out of the hillside by a torrential downpour.

The zinnias are doin’ great. The zinnias are my great seed success. However, given that they have happily re-seeded into the lawn, I rather suspect that you could grow zinnias from seed on the surface of Mars.

I have a reasonably lavish garden, mind you, at least by my standards, but I have mostly grown it from starts and seedlings and occasional bulbs.  I am really looking forward to next year to see what has volunteered–I feel like this is the year my garden REALLY got into the swing of things–but that doesn’t really count as ME growing it from seed.

My problem is that the instructions always say helpful things like “Start indoors on a sunny windowsill six weeks before last frost,” to which I say “You don’t have cats, do you?”  A pan of dirt on a windowsill here would be a really exciting cat toy, with the crashing and the dirt and the auxiliary litter box potential. I would have to work something out, possibly involving covered glass aquariums, and my windowsills are not eighteen inches wide, a shocking oversight on the part of the builder.

And I would LOVE to start things from seed. It’d be a heckuva lot cheaper, and I seriously drool over the catalogs of obscure heirloom vegetables–what is this bizarre tomato, or this strange white cucumber? I get all fired up by the idea of preserving the genetic heritage of our food crops while conventional farm practices drive us screaming off the cliff on monoculture. Screw you, Monsanto! When the plague has killed all your genetically tinkered corn, you’ll be begging for a bite of my albino cucumber!*

I confess, too, that I am shamefully entertained by the infighting at the Seed Savers Exchange, a truly laudable and almost embarrassingly earnest non-profit with the goal of saving heritage seeds, which apparently blew up after they sent some seeds to the doomsday World Seed Vault, whereupon the founder accused them all of contributing to biopiracy, because now corporations can raid the seed vault (or something like that–I just see Vikings in tweed storming the coast of Norway waving briefcases and sample vials and screaming “TAKE THE SEEDS ALIVE!”) and then the Board of Directors replied by talking rapturously about wombs, which I think is a kind of hippie version of Godwin’s Law, since frankly, I’ve never seen a conversation go anywhere good after the womb metaphors come out.

Seriously, how can you NOT want a ringside seat for that crazy, particularly when it comes with heirloom seeds?

(And much of the world still thinks that gardening is such a nice pastime, and probably very soothing.)

The other thing that balks me about starting things from seed is that ONE roma tomato plant gives us more tomatoes than we can handle, ONE jalepeno plant nearly destroyed Kevin’s digestive tract, and ONE cantaloupe planted last year keeps returning and eating the deck.   One six pack of basil starts provided more basil than we could remotely hope to use, and one potted grape tomato keeps Kevin snacking, and then cringing, and then actively fleeing from the onslaught. Next year I plan to expand into beans and cucumbers–even if I have to set up the aquarium in the window!–and I fully expect to be hip deep in produce by the end of it. If I start getting into obscure vegetables just for the hell of it, we’re gonna wind up with fifty bushels of neon eggplants or something and I’ll have to learn to cook out of sheer desperation and NO ONE WANTS THAT.


*Not actually a euphemism.


  • Michelle says:

    Oh man, I had heard rumor about infighting at Seed Savers, but I didn’t know the whole story until I read the Garden Rant article. Seriously! I have had my fill of over-zealous hippies.

    Anyway, about starting stuff from seed, have you considered some variant of winter-sowing? It’s pretty fool-proof; the biggest dificulty lies in finding yourself the following season with way too many baby plants to coddle. I have successfully murdered many baby plants! *sigh*

  • Michelle says:

    “*Not actually a euphemism.” ROFLMAO!

  • BeckyinVT says:

    Sounds like you’ve got a plan!

    Also, there’s always the table at the end of the driveway with extra veggies and a free sign*

    *or money box, depending on how capitalistic you’re feeling…

  • Quill says:

    You could always truck the overflow down to the nearest farmer’s market, and buy paint (or printer cartridges) with the results.