Posted by: jschaeffer | May 16, 2011

A few words on plants

There’s something really relaxing and fascinating about growing plants. So much goes into the process: it’s the sort of thing that really makes me feel humble when I think about it. To think a single seed can just be thrown into some relatively homogeneous organic medium and grow to thousands of times its size, based only on a string of interpretable nucleotides wrapped around themselves, is pretty mind-blowing.

This is the first year in which I’ve actually grown my plants from seed, with the exception of the corn I threw into the ground last year. I’ve got tomatoes, soybeans, cucumbers, and peas growing on a little table in my living room right now, all of them having been started about ten days ago.

Each one of them has grown differently. The cucumber plants slowly slid out of the dirt, bent and still with their seed coats on, then broke them off as their leaves started to unfold. The soybeans, on the other hand, sat around mostly inert until they broke apart huge chunks of soil and sprang forth into the air. I wasn’t really expecting that to happen–plants usually just feel like plants, and seedlings generally look nondescript to me. It never occurred to me that they would have such different strategies and means of growing.

What really fascinates me is that they started off as essentially nothing. I could easily fit any of the seeds on a single fingernail when I bought them. Now, most of the plants are bigger than my finger, and in a few months they’ll be massive. They might even begin to fruit. Stranger still is the fact that they’re doing this all by pulling resources from a heavily mixed medium of organic matter, giving order to it, and bearing all of their fruits before dying and returning to that same medium. I guess that’s how all life operates, myself included, but it’s really strange to see it happen from start to an anticipated finish.

Hopefully the seedlings will survive the journey from Worcester to Glenside on Sunday.

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