Because harbingers of spring seem like the most Wonderful Thing to share these days, allow me to present the first shoots of my nascent 2021 garden.
I feel like the preening mother of debutantes. Stand up straight, my darlings! Never fear; the one in the front on the left is tall and proud now.
I’m not really much of a gardener, so my delight is no doubt outsized. Add my family to the ranks of pandemic plant-tenders, motivated by grocery deficits in 2020 to expand from a handful of pots to a balcony-full. My pride in such a minuscule accomplishment certainly feels weightier than four spindly seedlings gracing a disposable aluminum muffin tin full of peat pellets.
Here’s a close up of my first born sprout. Though I do feel a bit guilty contributing yet more photos of kale to the internet. At least it isn’t on a plate…
I’m particularly happy that these seeds germinated since they were left over from DH’s burst of gardening enthusiasm at the beginning of the pandemic last year. The little beauty above could be any of four types included in Burpee’s Kale Blend, though, statistically, I suppose she’s most likely to be Dwarf Blue Curled Vates.
Lest any hapless would-be gardener look to me for inspiration, be aware that I took the earliest possible seed starting dates for my zip code from an online calculator offered by A Way to Garden. Being a true nerd, I also added a sheet to record my seed starting results to the Excel spreadsheet* where I track my annual purchases of plant and seed varietals.
Early planting reflects both my enthusiasm to welcome the coming season in a year where indoor socializing has been so sharply curtailed, and also the high probability that I will kill some of these poor plants and need one or more subsequent sowing to end up with any healthy seedlings to transplant by the time our last frost actually passes.
Kale and collards both—according to my online sources—are better sown outdoors directly and left to grow in peace. I started a few anyway. The seeds were here and I was curious to know if they were still viable. At a cost of less than 4 ¢ apiece, this form of experimentation is cheap.
Also, I’m itching for spring, so why not engage in anticipatory activity? Heaven forbid my idle hand become the devil’s workshop!Not strictly Biblical, this phrase comes to us mostly thanks to Chaucer and Saint Jerome. See line 1595 of the former’s “The Tale of Melibee.”
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!“
He chortled in his joy.
And in another utterly non sequitur-ious aside, how does anyone else feel about the fact that the Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a definition for frabjous, but the next two exclamations from the poem—callooh and callay—don’t merit inclusion?
My understanding is that Lewis Carroll coined frabjous in Jabberwocky, and a quick internet browse and articles like this one seems to support that supposition.
My question for the rest of you is: Do you ever describe a thing as “frabjous,” or, like me, do you mostly quote the entire line from the poem if using the term?
Literary diversions aside, new life merits the frabjous, a callooh, and a callay, in my opinion. How can one help but marvel at the super powers contained in a single tiny seed? Thank heavens for the wisdom of nature, because sometimes it’s sufficient to keep even me from wreaking havoc on my best efforts at nurturing vegetables.
* Don’t tell me there are people who can pull off cultivation of more than a few vegetables, herbs, and flowers without benefit of software-enhanced data analysis!
But, of course, I’m well aware that my habitual tendency to gather and play with data is anomalous. I doubt I’m the *only* one with spreadsheets for her wardrobe, recording drive times for various routes to frequent destinations, and prices by source for the family’s usual grocery purchases, but I suspect that there aren’t too many of us who dwell more easily in the realm of information vs. the actual world.
I geek, therefore I am.
8 thoughts on “O frabjous day! I’ve got sprouts on my windowsill”
That Burpee seed packet is a blast from the past for me, as I used to order seeds from them when I was a child in Illinois. (Glad to see the company still exists.) Actually I only ordered three or four packets a year, since I only had a tiny space in the back yard to plant them in. I especially liked radishes, because they grew the fastest.
W. Atlee Burpee & Company was established in 1876 (the internet tells me) 🙂 Though, if Wikipedia has it right, it hasn’t been a family run company since the 1970’s, even being owned by General Foods for part of that decade. Some of the historical seed packets were much prettier than the sensible white ones I get by mail order.
Any year that I’ve gardened, I’ve purchased more seeds than necessary, mostly because you have to buy a whole packet (often hundreds of seeds) to grow just a few of any one item. I have had good luck storing them for use in subsequent years, however. Again, probably partly due to having far, far more than I actually needed, so germination rates dropping down to 70% was still an abundance.
At our first home, we had just a narrow strip of space in the backyard with any chance of enough sun for growing light-hungry fruit and vegetable plants. I found the book “Square Foot Gardening” to be perfect for that situation. https://squarefootgardening.org/ The first year, my garden was only 3 ft x 3 ft, or nine “squares” for the SFG method! Even that offered enough produce to feel worth the effort.
That, and a few rolling, self-watering planters that allowed us to grow tomatoes… on our asphalt driveway where all the sun fell! We would have to roll the containers back up against the garage to pull our cars off the street in the evening, but it seemed worthwhile for the bounty. My husband would graze on cherry tomatoes while he did the job. He put a few raspberry canes in a narrow parking strip between the driveway and the house, further enhancing his desire to visit that corner every summer evening.
One week when I was away visiting my family, a neighbor asked DH if he was locked out of the house because he spent so many hours napping then nibbling in the yard… LOL
Very jealous, I have never been able to grow anything with a chloroplast in my entire life. I’ve even wrecked artificial grass (I tried to mow it – I was only 10, but my brother reminds me several times a year).
I question whether mowing artificial grass is technically a “gardening” failure, per se… 😂
I meant well; and in my defense, as a 10-year-old who grew up in London, the only grass I ever saw was in our rather tiny local park 😂
I bought gardening pots before but found out they were too small… never did attempt it again… I need to find someone who could come over to my place and guide me along with this.
I think this is one reason I prefer to buy seeds instead of plant “starts” that are already leafy green seedlings. Because seeds cost less than plants, and they start out not looking very alive, I experience only delight when they grow, but very little disappointment when my attempts fail! Watching a green thing wither is sad.
Have you tried forcing the cut ends of green onions or the pit from an avocado, for example? This is a great experiment because you only need a glass of water (no special equipment) AND you are re-using leftover bits of food that would have been garbage instead.
Oh, I was attempting to start from seeds though. I read the labels on the back of the seed and realised that my plants needed more space than what I had to grow. I also felt that I would love to see them sprout out from the soil.
I haven’t tried reusing my food, but I might! 😀