Ponder Before You Plant

In my quest to be the Perfect Housewife, I decided it would be beneficial to teach my children where their food comes from. The easiest way to do that, I guessed, was to have them plant seeds and watch them grow. Off to the store we went to buy seed packets and little fiber cups to plant them in. I let the kids pick out whatever they wanted, which turned out to be zinnias, nasturtiums, sunflowers, pumpkins, tomatoes and watermelons. Three flowers, three plants that eventually we could harvest. We spent one sunny spring day planting, Monkey Boy filling the cups with dirt and Princess pushing seeds in one at a time. It was surprisingly fun and the next few weeks were spent checking the cups every day for new growth, squealing any time a sprout had pushed its way to the top.

Now we’re about a month out and anything that’s going to sprout has. In fact, our little pumpkin sprouts have outgrown their tiny cups and GI Joe, who diligently checks our plants on his way to and from work, has been telling me they’re actually dying and need to be replanted. So I packed the Perfect Children up and off to the garden store we went in search of larger pots for our fruits and veggies.

I picked out two long, oval shaped planters and bought them up to the counter only to have the clerk laugh at me when I told her it was for pumpkins. She said I needed something a little bigger and came back with the equivilent of a 5 lb bucket- the largest faux terra cotta pot they had. I said “do we really need something this big? There are only 3 plants!” She said “oh, you have three pumpkin plants? In that case…” and went and got two more. When I reluctantly held up my medium-sized terra cotta planter for our tomato plants she laughed and got a fourth. Apparently those buggers can grow to be 6 feet tall. Who knew? Not me. I’ll probably end up having to replant the tomatoes into three separate containers, one for each plant, but for now my truck (and my wallet) have limited us to one planter for all three plants.

All of this is new to me. My grandma, aunt and mother must have stolen all the green thumb genes from the rest of the family and left none for me. My grandma has the largest, most beautiful backyard in Redding, California, complete with meandering pathways, overhanging wispy trees and flowers as far as the eye can see. It would make the editors of Home and Garden magazine drool. My aunt, an award-winning journalist, writes a blog and column for the Chico, California newspaper The Enterprise Record called “Sow there!” (get it?) and keeps a small but glorious garden herself. My mother, while an apartment dweller now, grew a pretty fantastic floral landscape in our yard while I was growing up. I remember the smell of fresh-cut lilacs filling our house in the summer and I think of my mom whenever I pass a flowering purple or white bush.

And then there’s me. I pretty much kill every thing I plant. I blame it mostly on my forgetful nature- plants, apparently, can’t live without being watered. If I want my house to smell like fresh cut flowers, I buy a bunch at the supermarket. The idea of growing my own food is pretty laughable. I can barely manage to get a seed to sprout, let alone grow to the point where it starts producing fruit or veg. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when all but a few of our little seeds sprouted and seemed to be doing well… until, of course, they started to outgrow their small containers which had me realizing that I might be a little over my head here. First of all, the thought of replanting these fragile buds is terrifying. Secondly, these plants are going to be HUGE. There’s going to be a lot of growing going on and I’m going to have to keep them alive during that time. I’m starting to wish I had done a little research, picked out some seeds that were death-proof, grew super fast and didn’t get bigger then a foot high. Is there such a thing? I highly recommend this little seed experiment to anyone, especially those readers out there with young kids, but before you buy, do some research. The old saying “look before you leap” comes to mind, but I have decided gardeners need their own saying and since alliteration if fun, “ponder before you plant” will have to do.


4 responses to this post.

  1. We are on our first gardening year, too. I actually ate lettuce out of it yesterday and it is so rewarding. Good luck with your pumpkins!!


  2. Posted by Jennifer (Spagnotti) Barnes on June 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    A few months before Oliver was born I decided that I wanted to have tomatoes whenever I wanted them. So we bought I think 10 plants total. I did a really great job remembering to water them and for a few months I had the most sweet and juicy tomatoes I had ever had. Then Ollie came. I stopped watering them everyday. And soon all my plants died. I felt really bad for them. Poor little plants were replaced with a little pink thing.

    But now that Ollie is bigger and doesn’t need me as much (silent tear), and is really interested in everything. I think we are going to start a little garden again. Have different plants and flowers and fruits. I think he would have a lot of fun watching them grow and picking things just like your kids. 🙂

    I hope you are able to save your plants! 🙂 Also sunflowers are great plants because they will only grow as high as the amount of earth they have to grow in. So say you just have a small little gallon bucket you are growing them in, they will grow to be a few feet high and that’s it. Plus they grow very quickly.

    There are a few websites that will tell you the best plants for little kids. This one was short, sweet, and to the point. 🙂 http://redwoodbarn.com/DE_seedseasy.html

    Happy gardening!


  3. I bet it will all turn out fine. Everyone has lost plants, and some of them will surprise you with their tenancity.

    When you mentioned each of the seed packets, I thought your children were brilliant for choosing a few easy-to grow seeds (particularly the zinnia).

    And I especially enjoyed the parts of your post that praised me !



  4. Posted by Claudia on July 19, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    This post made me laugh because it gave me a huge dejavu…. in our case it was sunflowers and tomatoes… yeah who knew that tomato plants grow so big?


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