Of weekends and planting seeds

We’ve been visiting our land most weekends and sometimes during the week, after school. It’s the best we can do right now as construction is about to begin on our new home and we’re still very much residing in Ottawa. The rest of the week we pine for it quietly, each in our own way.

We’ve got our work cut out for us in preparing the ground for planting. The land has been lying fallow for quite a long time and is in a fairly raw and unadulterated state (which is great in other ways, of course). In the meantime, we realized that we’re running a bit behind on planting our seed trays this year, so at the end of a long and tiring Sunday – during which we sieved and distributed across our garden mounds and mounds of wonderful soil from one of our compost bins, planted grass seed and clover in bare patches in our lawn, took our oldest to seal the deal on his first ever job cutting grass for friends in the neighbourhood, made a lasagna for our older son’s class field trip, cleaned out our gerbils’ enclosure, hung out laundry to dry and then folded it, tidied and…well, you get the idea – at the end of all of that, we decided that we’d better get going with this year’s seeds.

I’ll admit, I didn’t bring the enthusiasm to the table that I normally would, but I soon perked up when I saw how into it the boys were. It never fails. They love the prospect of growing things; it’s so ingrained in humans to create food. The job had been made ten times easier by my husband who had filled every available seed tray and pot with the lovely, dark soil that had emerged from the compost. The three of them started choosing seeds and places to plant while I got busy writing out labels. Our oldest has always gravitated to the herbs, so he submitted orders for garlic chives, Greek basil, oregano, thyme and suchlike, while the youngest searched for his sunflower seeds (3 or 4 varieties this year) and watermelon seeds (including a wonderful sounding heirloom variety gifted by a good friend) before asking what else sounded interesting. We had already dealt with the tomatoes, zucchini, squashes, cabbage, spinach and kale (mountains of it, I hope), and he listened carefully as I asked if “little finger eggplants” would be okay. Yup, he liked the sound of that, so he’d plant them (eating them when they are ripe is another matter, but he will give everything a try).

We easily filled three huge trays, four or five large pots and a dozen smaller ones and then realized we had more to plant. Fortunately, most of what is left could be or should be directly sown into the ground (eg carrots and onion sets), but I think we may need one more tray to see us through. We now have a huge mound of empty and partially empty seed packets, alongside some full ones, and I really need to do an inventory (wishing I had done a proper one last year, or I would have remembered to buy more oak leaf lettuce, which I love as a staple – this year we’ve mostly planted the rouge genobloise, which is a gorgeous red-leafed variety, but I’ll miss the pale green of the oak leaf. I did plant the four seeds left in the bottom of last year’s packet, and made a mental note for next year. It all needs to go in the garden journal, which I tend to update sporadically.

Our large deck table was covered in “hoped for seedlings” by the time we were done. It’s such a neat process, and a long one. Like waiting for a baby.

After our busy day, the boys retired to watch some old Pink Panther cartoons (which they had well earned) while the grown-ups remained out on the deck a little longer to enjoy a later than usual supper and a few moments of peace. You never know what’s going to happen with those seeds (will they make it? will something grow that we weren’t expecting, like last year’s marrow?), but it’s very satisfying knowing that we’ve got them started.

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