Seeds take a lot of faith. Really.
I built my bed. I amended the dirt. I watered and amended some more. And then I planted seeds in neat little square foot sections, marked by popsicle sticks. “Carrots, scarlet nantes, half-long”. “Beets, chioggia”, “Mesclun” and “Favas” and “Peas” (oh my!) But then, after all the work, it was just me and a slab of mud (watered again for good measure).
I have been coming back each day to water, looking at the dirt. I am imagining all the things that could have gone wrong. I left too much clay in the soil and the fragile seedlings can’t push through. I didn’t plant the seeds deep enough and the birds have gotten them. I planted the seeds too deep and they are buried and will never see the light of day.
In the past when I have gardened, in my own home plot of shady perrenials, I have often done so in the more immediately satisfying way. That is, I ran to a garden center and purchased plants in 3 inch pots. A little digging and ah…instant satisfaction. But this waiting…it brings up all sorts of interesting musings.
This week we have been experiencing unseasonably warm and sunny weather. I have been making frequent trips to my little alley plot to water the mud. And I have been reflecting on what it must have been like before the days of grocery stores, when seeds were planted, as winter stores were at their thinnest. Would they sprout and bring with them promise of a season worth of food? Or would they simple disappear into the earth? Everywhere around life is bursting forth, but my plot of dirt, remains bare.
I realize that my little farm is a luxury. If it all falls apart, I am out a minor sum of cash and some precious weekend hours, but we will still live (and live well). I can journey to the farmer’s market. I can shop at organic grocery stores or the Coop or maybe even still buy a farm share. Unlike my sisters, centuries before me, my children will eat. I try and settle into their ancient fear while I wait, to try and know what it really means to grow my own food. To know that all that stands between me and hunger is a tiny seed, a bit of rain, a stretch of mud and a whole lot of faith.