Rural Life in the UP of Michigan Some stories about life on 160 rural acres in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

March 18, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin0 @ 4:47 pm

flatI’ve heard it said that only an optimist plants trees. This year’s spring weather has dampened my optimism. Looking out the window at all the snow, at the dwindling firewood piles, at the snow lumps that are hiding the sawmill, and the aftermath of yet another blizzard, I’ve put off planting the tomato seeds. “What’s the point?” I wondered to myself.

Yesterday Alice and I marshaled the strength necessary to bring in the necessary gear, and spread it out on the downstairs table. After a long winter it is easy to forget what moist warm dirt smells like. Dirt is that stuff frozen somewhere under all that snow. It smells like everything else that is frozen.

Once the 72 cells of the flat were filled with their tablespoon of dirt, watered to moisten things up, a pencil was used to make an indent in each cell. Then the seeds were dumped into my ham fisted palm, and very carefully, I’d pick one tiny seed, and drop it into its prepared hole. Then the miracle happened.

Especially the Brandwine tomato plants, whose seeds are no bigger than any other tomato seed, caused a little thrill as the fragile little guys tumbled into their hole, to be covered up by 1/4″ of dirt. These are “Tall Brandywines” meaning they haven’t been selected for shorter vines. These plants are formidable, reaching taller than I am some years. At their peak of growth, we joke that we keep moving when we walk by for fear they’ll grab us and eat us for a salad. The miracle that such a tiny dried up seed will become a mother of dozens of juicy large red lovely tomatoes never fails to grab me.

By the time it was over with, I’ve taken in a few lungfulls of the indoor potting soil mix, and I was already thinking about summer… the greenhouse cover up, plants stretching up and out, thirsty for water and hungry for last year’s compost, and a little more of the late winter blahs wafted away.

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