Monday, February 27, 2017


Look at these brilliant, beautiful powerhouses.  They nourish their tiny seeds- water them with faith and love.
This post is inspired by one of my dearest and longest held friends.
We were girls together.
And even though we have grown and moved
we have failed and succeeded
and will fail and succeed again
I will always be a cheerleader of hers.
I still feel her heart as part of mine.
She wrote a blog post that got me thinking
and in my usual way
I somehow managed to connect 
her post
with growing plants
because I really only have about 3 tracks in my brain
(growing stuff, eating stuff, healing stuff)
So sit tight and enjoy the ride
as I take the long way 'round.

Baker Creek puts out an incredible's art 

It's spring and that always brings me to seed catalogs.
I love to browse through them
plotting and dreaming of the possibilities,
how many plants I can fit in that space,
what the potential options are
for heirloom and organic,
flowers and vegetables,
tools and soil amendments.
I'm a plant geek.
I can't help it.

Plant nerd eye candy on Baker Creek's Instagram

Seeds are such amazing little packets of life.
They hold so much energy-
just waiting quietly for the spark
in this encased and self-sufficient pod.
When plants make seeds,
they usually make hundreds.
It's like they know life needs 
thousands of possibilities
in order to ride one spark to fruition.

In spite of their compact efficiency, seeds are challenging.
They have lots of raw building materials
 in that little package.
However...they need some important additives
in reasonable doses.
Add some water
and a substrate
and some light
and wallah!
You'll most likely get that little engine going.
Mostly likely.
Not always.

There's something that you have to understand about seeds.
They are time bound.
They do not have limitless potential.
Most annual seeds have a shelf life of 1-3 years.
Meaning..if you preserve them
in exactly the right humidity
and temperature
then they will still remain viable 
somewhere between 1 year and 3 years of 
when they became seeds.
That's a wide margin...and it shows you how chaotic
and variable life can be.
Sometimes a seed from 3 years ago can actually take root
and grow into what it was meant to be.
And sometimes that same type of seed
won't sprout even a few months from when it was intended.

Even though I know this
and I KNOW that I can't 
use those seeds from last year
(or the year before)
in my current vegetable garden....
every year I have at least one packet of 
that I try to get going.
Just because it never hurts to try.

Does it?

I've been thinking about what it means
to hold on to possibility that might be dead.
What opportunities am I missing out on
when I try to grow seeds
that are not going to grow-
no matter how much I water them?

How do I know the difference between a seed that still can be a plant
and a seed that needs to be composted?
I don't think there's a checklist
that is fail proof
that will tell me 
that it's time to move on.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that 
sometimes I can in fact use that basil seed
from two years ago.
Sometimes that seed takes root
and flourishes.

Sometimes that seed never goes anywhere.
I've been wasting water
and space in the garden
that was meant for something else.

And also....
Sometimes I pick what is easy instead of what I really want.
There are choices that seem like success...
but end up feeling like pragmatism at it's worst.
I can't have that amazing tomato variety
because I used the space for those pepper seeds
that I found hanging out in the bottom of the seed cabinet.
They grew and we had jalapenos coming out of our noses....meh.
No one in our house is super crazy for jalapenos.
So why did I make that choice?
Lots of reasons....but mostly because it was easy and I was lazy.

Several years ago, my little family took a trip to Italy.
On the side of a mountain in Tuscany I saw
an artichoke plant growing wild.
It was gorgeous.
Sometimes, I will remember that plant as I'm combing through seed catalogs.
I will find Artichoke
and gaze with lust on it's royal blue or purple frills
it's exotic and practically alien leaves
so silver and sharp.

Then, I remind myself of the specs of an artichoke plant
which include a need for cold treatments to induce flowering
and space of at least 5 feet between plants.
Which (so far) has caused me to get real with myself.
Artichoke growing would take up most of my yard
AND would mean that I cannot
grow any of the other plants that are essential
(I'm really talking about tomatoes here and we all know it)
So artichoke growing is not for me.
I could do it-but there is a cost of the other seeds
that I would like to grow more of
or that maximize my actual gifts and talents best.

Saltproject are amazing....

Let's bring this metaphor all the way around.
Choosing seeds is a lot like making life choices.
Picking which dreams to follow.
There are so many
-thousands really-
points of our lives where we have potential.
Multiple seeds waiting to go in the ground and lead us down a path.
If you think about it too long
you're liable to get performance anxiety
and let your seeds rot in the drawer.

We make decisions.
We pick the dreams we want to nurture.
A relationship.
A job.
A child.
A perspective.
A painting.
A book.

We plant those seeds;
we water and care for them.

Sometimes those dreams grow and bear fruit.
Sometimes we tend those dreams too much
and we choke them out.
Sometimes we treat them just right...and natural disasters occur.
Outside of our control.
And the crops we've tended die.

When the seeds die
it is important to grieve their death.
To honor them and send them back to the earth.
To give thanks for all the lessons that we've learned
through those seeds.
Even when they failed.

It's also important to remember that 
There will be a time for new seeds.


When planting season comes back around
we will feel spring stirring
and we will know it is time.
Time to plant the ones that we've been gazing at longingly
in that great seed catalog.
To remember that not all seeds grow
in the places we want them to grow.
But the seeds that are for us
and meant for us.


Anonymous said...

Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you're working with?
I'm planning to start my own blog soon but I'm having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something
completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but
I had to ask!

Anonymous said...

Good article. I'm going through a few of these
issues as well..

Beth Mullenberg said...

I use Google's Blogger platform. It's a slightly customized layout of one of their templates. I change it myself pretty regularly-sometimes with spectacularly bad results. Good luck!

Beth Mullenberg said...

I'd love to hear the specifics of what you're going through-feel free to message me directly if you want to discuss.