Not even a week has passed since we began this year’s garden by ‘bagging up’ the little seeds. They are now doing their part – sprouting.
What will become of these little seeds? There is a foot of snow outside with more coming tomorrow. The temperatures will struggle to reach 15 degrees this week. The outside world is a hostile place for this baby tomato. And so we must cross the boundary between reliance on our visible circumstances and enter into the realm of faith in the unseen. Faith that one day it will happen. One day, the warm south winds will blow and the first robin will appear; one day, the snow will melt and the ground will warm. The warm sun will thaw our frozen world – one day.
It’s not with complete abandon that we sprout in faith. We have a past to which we can draw up promise. Every year of our lives the spring has come, the buds have broken. It has happened for as long as we can remember. It has happened every year since the dawn of time. We have a promise it will happen again.
But possibly not on our timetable.
We have support for our hope. Careful observance of sunrise and sunset tells us that the days are getting longer. Our records of the course of the sun prove to us the sun is getting closer. The advancing calendar provides a framework for our reason. We have a surety that it will happen. Spring will happen. It must; it is inevitable.
But possibly not on our timetable.
So, the decision is made. Though it is cold and blowing, despite drifts closing in the garden, when there is no warmth in sight, plant. Plant and ride the wave of faith that spring will arrive.
Now we need containers, potting soil, a knife, a mini greenhouse, and, of course, the Peter Rabbit watering can.
The containers can be anything. Year after year, I reuse these 4 packs that came from the store with petunias in them. I’ve used yogurt cups and sour cream containers. It helps to have one seed (one plant) per container. Otherwise, when it comes time to put the starts in the garden, the little plants are tangled together -leaves, stems and roots. They don’t usually fare very well when they are separated after growing together. Usually stems and roots get bent, torn, or broken. The containers need drainage holes.
Fill the containers with soil and place in the ‘greenhouse’. My greenhouse is a container that originally held a lettuce salad mix from the grocery store. I soak and scrape the label off the lid so sunlight can get to all the plants. The greenhouse should not have holes.
If the potting soil is dry, water it gently and leave an inch of water in the bottom of the greenhouse. Let the dirt-filled containers sit in the water for a few hours or a day to soak up water. Or, before filling the containers, water the potting soil in the bag and add moist soil right to the containers. Dry potting soil does not soak up water readily – once it does it stays nicely moist.
Use a knife or a popsicle stick to make a hole deep enough to hold the root of the seedling that will be planted.
Open the bag and carefully remove the little seedling. If the root has grown into the paper towel, cut or tear the paper towel bringing the piece out still attached to the root. Plant it – paper towel piece and all. The paper towel will eventually decompose. If the root is pulled through the paper towel it will break off the little root hairs decreasing the seedlings mechanism for water absorbtion. The more root hairs a seedling has the better.
Lower the root into the hole and gently push soil around the root. Avoid kinking the root or stem of the little plant. If the root is long, plant it as deep as possible and then continue in a more horizontal way, making a path with the knife, circling the root around. Lightly cover with soil.
Gently water the seedlings. A big dash of water will dislodge seedlings with a short root, burying them or turning them upside down. Put on the greenhouse lid and put it in a window or under plant lights.
The snows are deep, the winds blow bitter. A rational observer would scoff at gardening with 4 foot drifts blowing all around. Yet, plant we must. Because we have a foundation for our hope. Faith in the unseen.
I Corinthians 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly;
But then face to face:
Now I know in part;
But then shall I know as even also I am known.