Thursday, February 21, 2008

#81801 MAMMOTH MIX SWEET PEA - $1.10

On a day like this, snow on the ground, you just don't believe in plants. I don't care how many daffodil and daylily shoots I see poking up above the ground - I just can't visualize them exploding into large (ish) chlorophylly factories.

I have always been skeptical when it comes to seeds and plants and growth. You drop something the size of a dot on the ground outside, cover it with a little dirt, and a couple months later it's a plant taller than your head? Where did all that mass come from? I know it's largely water, but still. That dot sucked up all kinds of stuff from the soil and, using solar energy to power its efforts, arranged the nitrogen and carbon it found in my garden into, what, a tomato? A six-foot-tall sunflower? Weird.

I placed my seed and plant orders the other day. The catalogs are just dizzying: all the tomatos are "crack-resistant" and full of "true tomato flavor," and you can't keep straight which carrots are long, which are good for fresh eating... I can't even interpret what some of that stuff means. It took all my effort to restrain myself from building a little spreadsheet comparing the traits of all the different strains from the different companies.

The flowers are no better. It's so hard to keep in mind what part of the yard I want to put nasturtiums in, and whether I need mounding or trailing, and whether Gleam germinated better than Empress of India and which one looked so good against the stump last year.

I have a notebook, which this year finally proved its worth. The peas two years ago were amazing, but I'll be damned if I can remember if they were variety Lincoln or Little Marvel or Maestro. But two years ago I stuck a printout of the seed order in the notebook, and now I know.

This year, I ordered seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds and plants from Territorial Seed Company. I used to order from Renee's Garden Seeds.

I only buy tomatos and peppers as plants. Lately I'm just not interested in starting seeds inside - the plants never end up as robust as I'd like, and I get dozens of them. But I can't find the chili peppers I want as plants. You can get varieties like Superchili and Thai Dragon as seeds, but I hate to set all that stuff up just to do the chilis, and nobody's selling the plants.

Monday was 70 degrees, and I spent the day in the garden ripping out last year's dead pea vines and ropes of dessicated pumpkin stalk. I found the columbine putting up tiny improbable whorls of leaves and a few baby stems of mint just barely showing above the mud by the driveway.

It's all bullshit, of course. The landscaping crew will show up in the middle of the night sometime in May and pop in full-grown plants to replace these wan survivors. And then I'll take a few pictures and pull a few weeds and wonder who's paying those landscapers.