Waiting for seeds to grow

"Green Thumb" by Yelena Bryksenkova


A few weeks back, I was obsessed with growing my own herbs.

You should have seen me – I was way into it. I love herbs and while I buy mine at the supermarket when a recipe calls for them occasionally, the thought of growing it myself never really occurred to me. That was until I caught episodes of Jamie Oliver doing his 30-minute meals. I have to say; watching him going about in the kitchen, snip-snip-sniping away at his herbs whenever he needs them really just flipped a light bulb in me – not only did he inspire me to take more initiatives to cook more, he made me interested in creating my very own herb garden. Watching that show also made me feel like I could do anything at all too, if I maintained a sense of fun and curiosity about it. I’m hoping one of these days to do a full vegetable patch, but with two jack russell terriers tearing around my garden, it doesn’t seem likely that it will happen very soon!

So I had Mr. T buy big packs of potting soil (because using the rather unfriendly looking reddish-clay earth we had in the backyard yielded poor results too many times to be a coincidence), and we had plastic cups all ready to go for germinating. I bought seeds of herbs that I liked – and as with anything I start, I did it with gusto.

After I sprinkled over my seeds of sweet marjoram, dill, rosemary and sage – all in individual pots – and stuck ice-cream sticks with the plant’s name on a washi-tape (because markers on wood looks icky when it gets hit by water). I gave myself a pat on the back and stood back to marvel at my handiwork. Hurrah! Then the waiting began. I watered them everyday, and looked at them in the morning, and once again in the evening. Nothing. All that stared back at me was black soil. I had hoped for a glimmer of green to peek through. Nada.

I waited and lowered my expectations. I peeked in nonchalantly (and yet hopeful) for a week before I spotted something popping out from the fresh ground. YAY! A quick glance over my other 3 pots of herbs however, signaled a nay. Maybe they weren’t  ready to come out just yet? Maybe I got some bad seeds? Maybe the ants got to them in the middle of the night. Or slugs munched on them maybe? I don’t know. All I know was that my web browser history is ridden with gardening vocabulary, of the amateur sort, trying to figure out what went wrong.

Which got me to thinking. Creating anything – work, art, writing, etc – is almost like growing your own little garden. The same goes for businesses too.

You can sprinkle your seeds of imagination and ideas and be careful about them – judiciously watering them, feeding them, talking to them – but sometimes they don’t turn out the way you want them to. Which is why you spread them all around, in different pots, in different forms: through seeds, new cuttings, or the bulb of an old sprout. Some may take root and grow upwards, strong and tall. Others don’t take, and ends before they begins. Some grow new shoots, only to be eaten by a passer-by snail; leaving only the barest of signs of being grisly eradicated before it could fully form.

Creating anything – work, art, writing, etc – is almost like growing your own little garden.

And once you get these seeds on the ground, all you can do is wait. And water them. And wait again. And this process repeats itself as it grows; needing a complex combination of efforts to not only keep it stable, but to allow it to thrive and bear fruit.

It’s a nod to the universe in so many parallel ways – your labor of love is as complex, and yet while you can control a big portion of it, the rest is up to fate. One hopes for the best, and yet prepares for the worst. It’s a little dance in which you won’t know how it all will turn out; but one thing’s for sure: if you keep those seeds hidden, locking them away from soil and sunshine – you’ll never know how it all turns out.

So toss your seeds – your ideas, imagination and creativity – into the ground. Let them take hold and burst through the ground fresh and alive with hope. And what if it doesn’t turn out? Well, then it’s time to plant new ones.

Just remember to add water and love. And watch out for those sneaky slugs.

P/S: Here’s my dill (the only one out of four herbs that made it!) I’m replanting new seeds – and this time I’ll know what to watch out for.

My dill plant!

[Illustration: “Green Thumb” by Yelena Bryksenkova via What You Sow – an excellent online shop for all lovely gardening related things.]

8 Replies to “Waiting for seeds to grow”

  1. Lyndsey says:

    Amy, this is such a relevant post to where I feel like I am and many of my friends are at the moment. Thank you.

    Sowing seeds (actual and metaphorical) and getting them to grow is always harder than it looks, and takes time and love, and more hard work that you would ever imagine. Sometimes you’ll get lucky, sometimes you’ll be disappointed and sometimes you have to adapt what you’re doing to make it work. But above all, you need patience and perseverence in huge measures.

    Try the marjoram, sage and rosemary again. They’ll work one day (rosemary is the thing that I can never manage to keep alive, but I’ll carry on trying). And then you’ll have more herbs than you know what to do with.

    Good luck!
    P.S. Thank you for saying such nice things about my shop x

    1. amy says:

      Thanks so much Lyndsey! I’ve taken a shortcut and have bought some rosemary plants – I’ve read that they’re difficult to grow from seeds (although not impossible!) I’ll try propagating them from cuttings next! x

  2. Natasha says:

    I have never tried growing herbs from seeds, but I have bought potted herbs and they have died every time. I hope that doesn’t happen with all my ideas 🙂 We do have a rosemary bush that grows with no help from us so I hope that will happen with some things.

  3. Rore says:

    Raising seeds is pretty hard to do, if you want to enjoy growing herbage I would recommend getting plants that have been sprouted already.
    Most seeds required ideal conditions to germinate i.e – heat, humidity, soil and more. It’s worth investigating how to make good soil, soil making is as much fun as eating your own homegrown herbs.
    Permaculture is one of the best inroads into the cosmos of soil working and presents it from a perspective that is encompassing and relevant.
    The absolute best thing for a garden is a compost pile, compost requires much love however and should be researched first.. if not you may end up with a slimy smelly mass in your garden. Like most things composing and soil conditioning is a learning experience. It is so cool though to watch paid for bills ripped into shreds consumed by the earth and transformed into nurturing biomass.
    Bokashi bins are great ways to recycle scraps of food in a city environment and provide nourishing providence for the garden. They require some attention and are a good start to soil conditioning.

    When faced with the alternative of organic and non organic – go organic and natural – if you read into permaculture you would have come across this. Synthetic and man made fertilizers can produce large vegetable and flourising greenery but they tend to be less rich in a balance of nutrients and can also effect the natural soil cultures that are naturally tending to your herbs. Seaweed fertilizer is ultra good. And smells delicious.

    Also on a last nowt. If you find a supplier of old stock seeds they will have more chance of sprouting. Old Stock seeds are seeds from the yesteryears. They are not factory produced and come from ancient lineage plant varieties, they are usually stronger in flavour, and have much more goodness. They way our food should be.

    I always think about this quote when gardening because it applies so well.

    “Work is love made visible.
    And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste,
    it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
    For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half our hunger.”

    Kahlil Gibran

    1. amy says:

      Ooooh, this meaty stuff, thanks so much Rore! I have been reading into permaculture and it’s a beautiful practice. So much things to learn!

  4. Pearl says:

    Hi Amy
    I totally resonate with your insights on sowing seeds as part of creation of whatever it is we want. Sowing seeds and nurturing them is a creative process by itself.
    I only like to your last statement – ‘Just remember to add water and love. And watch out for those sneaky slugs’ with this : Watch out for those wild monkeys too! The wild monkeys in our minds that constantly tells us that nah, just give it up, too difficult, not worth your time, the weather’s too hot/cold to tend to the pots, you’re too tired, you have other important things to do (like catching the latest drama episodes, etc), blah blah blah. We have to be very mindful of our internal process and nip them in the bud, or just axe the cancer spreading rotting branch off, cos this will sabotage us in our pursuits… whether it is gardening, cooking, writing, art making, business building, or simply nurturing oneself to be more fulfilled and self actualised.
    Thanks very much for sharing!

    1. amy says:

      I love the reference to monkeys Pearl!! Great addition and thoughts, I might add! 🙂

  5. Pearl says:

    Sorry, typo error … I only like to — ADD TO — your last statement ..

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