Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Operation Salsa Garden

Many eons ago, when I was but a young high school freshman, I had a wonderful science teacher, Mrs. Haley-Oliphant. I loved her for many reasons, but chiefly because she did the impossible - she made science fun! In one instance I can remember her using a dart gun to illustrate a concept (too bad I can't remember the concept), and I do recall how to make a Punnett square from her lessons on genetics. What I remember most though was something she called, "Planimal House". This was a project where we could choose to care for either a small reptile, or some plants. I remember her saying that she wanted us to "develop warm and fuzzy feelings for things that weren't warm and fuzzy." Now, as you can imagine, most everyone in the class (and by most I mean everyone but me) chose to do an animal. We had all sorts of reptiles in that room, with all sorts of darling names, but frankly, I didn't want to develop warm and fuzzy feelings for them - so I gathered my germinating box, my potting soil, and some seeds (Cosmos bipinnatus to be exact), and I cultivated my green thumb. Sadly, those seeds sprouted quickly, but never grew much beyond that. I did do another batch a home though and planted them on the side of our house. Those did bloom into beautiful flowers, but the stems were so high (How was I to know I picked the only six foot flowers on the rack?) that they became quite a nuisance - eventually they were pulled up and any remaining seeds were gotten rid of. Thus, my budding career as a horticulturalist came to a screeching halt.

I was reminded of all this today as I went to the home store after school to look for a starter kit - see, Abby and I are going to grow a garden this summer. Today was a beautiful day for being outside, so I figured it would be the perfect day to start our seeds. The thought is to start small, with just a few vegetables (and an herb) - we are making a salsa garden! I chose tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and onions - this was going to be great. As I drove home I had a wonderful vision of Abby and I daily checking on our small bit of earth, and how excited we would be once we saw those beautiful vegetables, ripe for the picking.

I got home in time to set up a small spot for us in the front yard, and label the cute little princess markers I'd gotten, so we wouldn't forget where we'd planted each precious seed. I opened the "easy" kit and began reading the directions. It turns out it was a bit more complicated than I'd thought, but we could handle it. All was ready by the time Abby's bus pulled up.

She was excited to hear that we would be planting seeds, just like Caillou! I'd brought out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt for her to change into, and since I didn't see anyone around she did a quick change right there in the front yard. She did a super job making a hole for the seeds and carefully putting them in. As we covered each one up we told them to, "grow well!" Sure, she wanted to keep planting in the same section, and I wouldn't be surprised if we have some peppers mixed in with the tomatoes, but something is bound to grow, right? When we'd finished she sat back and watched the box intently. I asked if she was waiting for them to grow and she said, "Yes!" I told her that we would have to wait a bit longer than a few minutes to see them grow. She seemed okay with that, because the next thing I knew she was pulling on her snow boots (don't ask) and running off to play in "her house" around back.

It was while I was cleaning up that I read there should be 1 or 2 seeds per section (oops! I think we put in about six.), and that there's no way all the veggies in our garden will be ready at the same time (Did you know onions grow slower than tomatoes? I do - now.), but I knew going into this that it was one of those ventures that is more about the process and less about the product. Abby and I had a fun afternoon, enjoying the sun and each other's company.

The seeds are happily sitting near a window with the "germinating cover" over them, and I know we both will be excited when we see the first few leaves pop up out of the soil. Hopefully, in a few weeks we'll need to think about transplanting them and how we will keep the deer away from, what is bound to be, a delicious meal.

Here Abby is being Rapunzel. I'd told her to
"let down her hair" so I could climb up.

Then it was my turn to play Rapunzel. She is starting the
swift ascent using my hair.

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