what the seeds told me this week

seeds 1Each and every seed carries within it the code for its own doom, as well as for the perpetuation of it’s own kind.

Upon making the effort the germinate, the individual seed itself is destroyed. It’s a beautiful destruction, as it may lead to another green plant, but be it a flower, a weed, or a tree, there is a destruction involved none the less.

The beans have a particularly creative style of accomplishing their transformation, as they use the meaty part of their seeds as the cotyledons, which wilt back as the true leaves mature. Other plants leave just a little husk behind as whatever is left of the seed is absorbed into stem or root, or sloughed off.seeds 4

Seeds have no choice. Given the right circumstances – temperature, moisture, light – a seed uses its inborn vitality and makes an attempt to germinate. If it has been made to wait too long in adverse conditions, that vitality may diminish, and if the moment to sprout never comes, the seed will eventually decompose. Again, the seed’s destruction feeds the living soil.  Whenever a seed gets an opportunity, it plays its part. Even at its own expense, the seed does what it can to bring about more life in abundance.seeds 5

The seed has no housework. The seed doesn’t make apologies. The seed doesn’t juggle a busy schedule. The seed doesn’t linger with good-byes.  The seed has no choice. We do.

Change challenges us. And change is completely unavoidable. There’s something about our capacity for freedom that breeds a spirit of resistance, and attachment. But if we resist the change coming our way, we will still be changed by the very fact of our resistance. If we cling to our beautiful moments, they will never mature into the sacred mundane. If we cling to our pain, we might not find out what it was for.

Some changes are more difficult than others. We are not seeds. We choose. Every moment, we choose, to be awake to life and its changes, or sleep through it and deal with change re-actively, and in the retrospect. To take the bull by the horns, or be thrown. But we can take a lesson from the seeds. They are sprouting up all over the place right now.

The lesson is clear…

Sprout. Grow. Bloom. Set free some more seeds.  Carry on.seeds 2seeds 3

Set aside fear, and vanity.  You will never be the same.  You never were.  Don’t let your unfulfilled potential rot like a seed that never got a chance. When it’s time to grow – let grow.

It’s Life itself that is really so beautiful.seeds 6

seeds and soil

This morning, I went to water the few remaining trays of seedlings in our greenhouse and discovered that a mouse had eaten some of my precious late sprouting watermelon plants. I had been covering the tray to keep them out, but forgot in the rush of a late bedtime the night before. Darn.mouse

It never seems to be less than a miracle when a row, a tray, a pot of seeds germinates and thrives.

The process inspires me over and over again.

Seeds are like thoughts.

They can be potent and powerful and ready to sprout and grow into something. Thoughts like that easily translate into action. I love those kinds of thoughts. Sometimes thoughts, and seeds, get stale and grow more slowly. Some seeds naturally take a long time to sprout. And some thoughts are like weed seeds. In fact, a lot of thoughts grow into weeds. If left unchecked, they take up valuable space and hinder our progress. Clearing them out is necessary work if we are to have a productive and beautiful garden, and life.weed

But it isn’t just the seed that matters. There’s the growing medium. The potting mix. The soil. The ground. Is it fertile enough to maintain the growth of our seeds? Are there harmful diseases, bacteria, and fungus that will infect the seedling and hinder its life?

Soil is like attention.

Thoughts alone are not the mind.  Seeds alone don’t make plants.

No analogy is perfect, but bear with me.

We start our small seeds in soil blocks. This allows us to germinate thousands of seeds on a small folding table indoors. It gives us a little more time to nurture the seedling’s early environment before sending it outdoors. But there have been times when things have gone wrong.

We scramble to narrow down the possibilities. Did we let the blocks dry out too much, or did we keep them too wet? Are the seeds old and losing strength? But we’ve learned now that it’s often an imbalance in the potting mix. (See? It’s not usually the seed’s fault.)

Like soil, if our attention is not strong and balanced, we will have a hard time maintaining a healthy stream of thought and bringing it to fruition. We need focused attention to hold the root firm, but enough breathing room to allow both root and stem to expand and grow. How easy is it to pull a plant out of sand? How hard is it to uproot a dandelion from clay?

It is not always easy to hold attention in one place, to keep directing it where it belongs. In fact, it’s quite difficult sometimes. Distractions are endless. It’s like feeding the soil, and cultivating. It’s a continual effort, and there are ups and downs. Each season, each day, each breath is different. Each is an opportunity.

I’m feeling fortunate this morning, that there are more watermelon seeds, waiting to be planted. There’s also a good batch of potting soil made up, ready to support them. Sunlight, rain, the coming summer all these companions make life so possible, so good.watermelon

May the works of our lives bear sweet fruits this season. Like watermelons.

seed dreams

By my calculations, this may be the most consistently cold winter we’ve had in these parts for about 20 years.  I say that from the remembrance of a winter I spent home from college, about 20 years ago (yikes, really?).  I was staying at a friend’s farm, ostensibly doing independent study on modern homesteading skills, but the winter was so brutal that we spent a fair amount of time snowed in around the fire (practicing that timeless homesteading skill of tending fire and telling stories), sometimes driving out over multiple creek crossings just to catch a glimpse of humanity.  I remember driving over the icy creek crossings, and not breaking through.

And then we did break through.  And then we were stuck.

It was a memorable winter.  As is this one.

ice creek

I wouldn’t drive on it, but it’s all ice under there.

Somehow, I’m feeling more capable of appreciating this one, in a different way.  Yes, the children climb the walls on grey days, not wanting to do the necessary bundling to make themselves comfortable in the exhilarating COLD.  Yes, the winter to-do list is getting cramped abit, as certain outdoor projects just don’t get done when the high temperature is 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

But, the cold is making such a nice clean palette.clean palette

There’s talk sprinkled through Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture lectures about the crystallization processes that occur during winter.  Certain preparations that we make to help enliven our compost piles and the like are best buried underground through winter so that they receive these crystallizing forces.

Theoretically, it doesn’t have to get really cold for crystallization to happen, because people in tropical locations make these formulas with success.  But, on a winter like this, we can really see crystallization at work.

It’s beautiful.ice 3

When I walk around the frozen garden, it feels so still.  But it also feels deeply alive.  And it feels clean.  Maybe you’ve experienced this. It’s an interesting sensation.

Back in the warm house, later, in my mind’s eye, I am sorting the garden beds, seeing the possibilities for the year to come pass before me.  What grew where last season?  Did we compost that in the Fall?  Is it mulched, cover cropped, or open?  The frozen ground is laden with potentiality.ice 2

Like seeds.

We’re sorting seeds now.  Flipping through our favorite catalogs, falling in love with pictures of flowers, and vivid descriptions of the black tomato from Russia that we haven’t tried yet.  We squeeze and shake last year’s packets, and pick through the beans and kernels to see what looks good.  What to grow this year, and what NOT to grow?  Where will we put those flowers?  How many kinds of tomatoes will fit in those rows? What will it all be?

Our seed orders have been shrinking the past few years, but our gardens haven’t.  There are a few standby hybrids that we buy, and some special lettuces that we won’t give up, but as my Fellow Man improves his hand at the craft of seed saving, we find need for less and less from the catalogs.

This year, for the first time “officially”, we’re feeling flush enough in supply to offer some of our favorite seeds to others.  We’re not a seed warehouse.  We’re just a little family with a particular leaning toward this art.  My husband has a gift for meticulous tasks.  He selects with care, and tends to his work.  There are times in the late summer when I question how reasonable it is to have so many small containers of fermenting seed projects at once.  These processes are not all tidy, and they don’t always smell good.  But now, when we have this beautiful selection to contemplate, it’s worth it.  We’ve done this for enough years now to witness the strength of home grown seeds.  Our favorite varieties that we save grow more vigorous and well adapted as we pay them this good attention.

There may be genetic variability.  There are sometimes deep purple veins in the flat leaf white kale.  Last year, some of our cherry tomatoes exhibited a crossed trait that created an amazing tasting burgundy fruit.  We saved some, and will be stabilizing that line each season.  Variability is part of the fun.ice leaf

Our for-sale seed list is posted now HERE in our market.  Until I work out the details of on-line trade, you’re welcome to mail or email us an order, the old fashioned way.  Let us supply you some sweet mid-winter seed dreams.  Support this garden-roots economy.  The gardens are beginning now, from the crystallized earth, and the beautiful creativity of our own minds.  Let winter be winter.  What a GOOD time it is.

family on ice

Taking a rare walk on the frozen pond.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to another post about our seed saving methods and philosophy.