When the world was busy panic-buying toilet paper, I was busy panic-sowing. 

As it became clear that the novel coronavirus pandemic was going to change life, at least for awhile, I was in the middle of my regularly scheduled indoor seed starting. I had made a quiet promise to myself that this year, for once, I would keep my seed starting under control. And I was doing pretty good sticking to that.

And all of a sudden things were shutting down. Something in my brain clicked and suddenly I was like the squirrel who stashes way too many nuts for winter. What if there was no way to buy plants? I switched into gardener survival mode. My focus was laserlike. Must. Have. Plants.

My sowing plan was thrown out the window. Instead of sowing eight of something, which seems like a completely reasonable number, I sowed entire trays. In the case of Nicotiana, I sowed two trays. I can’t imagine a private garden with room for that many Nicotiana. 

I justified this behavior by telling myself that if my friends and family couldn’t get plants they would appreciate whatever I could produce. 

Of course they better like flowers. Because while I sowed flower seeds with reckless abandon, I stuck to my restrained plan when it came to tomatoes and peppers. My friends and family will just have to have very pretty and not very productive victory gardens. Well, other than basil. I am currently caring for close to 100 basil plants. I have no reasonable explanation for this. 

seed startingAll of this seemed like perfectly rational behavior until a week ago when the responsibility of these plants became a lot to manage. Seedlings are constantly in need of potting on, thinning and, of course, watering. Oh the watering. Watering is not a difficult chore until it requires constant checking and refilling a watering can.

I finally relented and put a small ceramic space heater in the pop-up greenhouse. With it, I’m able to keep the nighttime temperature safe for a lot more varieties of seedlings and I was able to create a lot more space in the basement. I am going to ignore the impact on the electric bill for the time being.

My twice daily trips to the basement where the seed starting now happens were for months a joy. They are now a chore, but I got myself into this and well, we’re in it for the long haul at this point. 

I comfort myself with thoughts of all the homemade pesto my friends will make for me. 


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