I feel bad about my starts. I thought it was a mark of seriousness to do starts. A way of having more control, of being cheaper, more involved in the process. That's the word I love so much in all this growing: involved. I feel like I am participating.
But the light system in my basement? The heat pad? How is that helping me to be involved? Down there, there is no day or night, no season, no rhythm. There is just achievement. I am doing it; I am ahead; I will get tomatoes in June; I will beat the already-approaching fall nights and ripen melons. Just will and achievement.
So I push these little seeds to sprout and grow by providing conditions I can't sustain; eventually, I have to break the news to them that it isn't really seventy degrees and sunny. I mean, some days it is. But some days it's fifty and pouring. It's early April in Portland. In some ways it makes me think of the most dangerous kind of parenting: weak roots. If we're too protected, we think we're tougher than we are, and we don't have the habit of reaching into ourselves for those reserves of strength . . .
The rest of this post was written several weeks ago, before we went on a trip, and before the sacred last frost day. I was just starting to plant things out; repotting, realizing. Now, those sunflowers that lived under glass for weeks are toast. The one that I just let weather the storm is strong and stocky. All those sprouting broccoli starts bit the dirt within days of being planted out - but one! Which is glossy and growing. I've put the tomatoes out, which is a whole other post, and the rest of the sunflowers, the cosmos, some of the zinnias, the hollyhocks, the basil, chives, yarrow. Some of the peppers are at the window, adjusting. The melons (what am I thinking?) are in the basement, as confused as ever. We'll see how everyone does. I am learning, I can feel it.