March 13, 2010
I moved the lights up one link in the chain that suspends it over the beautiful, green, increasingly lush young plants. Twelve one inch high smokey green cabbage plants stand on the far right side. Each plant’s two true leaves and two cotyledons fan out at the 90 degree points of their axis, the tiny but amazingly sturdy stem that supports them. Next, twelve cells with truly infant buttercrunch lettuce. I was disappointed that this, my favorite variety of lettuce sprouted so anemically the first planting, though in a way I have only myself to blame. I used last year’s seeds, plus I fully covered them with soil. The first sin isn’t so bad: some of that seed germinated, though my re-planting is with this year’s seed. The second sin, well, I’m not sure how bad it is, except the instructions on the packet and other things I’ve read say lettuce seeds need light to germinate. The first planting has some true leaves, the second, racing to catch up with its big brothers, has just emerged. The next rank of twelve cells holds a dozen red leaf lettuce seedlings. Though the seed leaves are mostly green, they are tinged and ringed with a reddish hue. I can hardly wait for more true leaves to push up and out.
Next are twenty four cells with Latuca sativa also known as Ithaca Lettuce. These have grown from last year’s seeds, one each of which I planted in each cell. Ironic that 23 out of 24 sprouted. Ironic that they are the healthiest, most vigorous of the seedlings I am growing. Ironic because this is an iceberg type head lettuce, our least favorite type. My hope is that a home-grown head of lettuce will be tastier and crispier than the waxy-crisp, almost tasteless grocery iceberg lettuce. These all have two good-looking, green, true leaves with a third on the way. Glancing over descriptions of this lettuce, it doesn’t seem too hard to grow, and my timing should be perfect: mid February planting for a late April, early May harvest. I like this nice Virginia weather that lets me set cool weather plants out early and be done with them in plenty of time for summer plants to follow. I had originally thought I’d have two waves of indoor grown plants, but I may try a third planting after setting out tomatoes and peppers.
After the Ithaca, there are twelve cells of healthy but overly leggy bok choi, a sort of Chinese cabbage. For the life of me I can’t understand why they are so long and spindly while the cabbage at the other end of the flat is compact and healthy. Writing this now, I wonder if I should give up on the bok choi and plant something else in those cells, like chard, but I’m going to stick it out, plant them early, and not hope for much.
I treasure how this small but growing sea of green in my living room under the grow light is like therapy for me. I have always had a sense of spring green soothing and healing, like a cup of chamomile tea. Allowing new green to flow into me, through my eyes, coursing through my whole being, gives me a sense of satisfaction. This is spiritual and emotional health: to dream to plan, to plant, to nurture, to act on the deep husbanding impulses and even now, eyes feasting on the green, to be succored.