Yes, there are still piles of dirty snow in parking lots and the shadiest corners of yards. And it did snow again this week, a wintry mix that was more wintry than mix. But it’s as clear as the antihistamines flying off the pharmacy shelves: Spring is here, even in Boston.

The kids have noticed all our bulbs coming up in the garden; they’ve even mangled some of them (see The Sweetest Nature post from two weeks ago!). From that experience came books and discussions about spring and plants. Nana had had the kids participate in the creation of her veggie garden last year, so they remembered about seeds, and dirt, and sun, and water…

So last Thursday when I picked up the kids from school, I asked them what they wanted to do for fun. We usually do something, like, go to the library, the donut shop, the playground… I ran down our list of options, and I threw in: the garden store. They jumped at that. So, off to the local “garden store”, which was the nearest big-box hardware store with a garden section.

Right near the entrance was a massive display of seed packets, and at 99 cents a packet, I let the kids go a bit nuts. It was so funny the things that caught their attention: purple cabbage, rainbow carrots, ornamental gourds, hot peppers, beets, lavender, turnips, every kind of tomato, peas, sunflowers, watermelon, long beans, chives, scallions, and on and on.

I’ve never grown seedlings, and thank goodness the big box store caters to enthusiastic newbies. Right next to the seeds was a display of inexpensive seedling starter kits: “mini-greenhouses”, basically plastic trays, each with 72 compartments filled with dehydrated growing medium, with a clear plastic cover. Into the cart went four kits. The kids fairly sprinted to the checkout, and we were home with our afternoon project well before dinner.

It was freezing out, as usual, so we took the project into the kitchen. We spread the seed packets out on the floor, lined up the trays, and Mommy read the directions. Within a minute we were pouring water on the growing medium, and within five we were planting seeds.

They stuck with it for far longer than I had predicted. Yes, they argued about what to plant next and who got to open the seed packet and how to plant the seeds et cetera. Plenty of seeds ended up on the floor. Something got the cats’ attention, like catnip, and they persistently nosed in and poked around. But overall, it was a fun time, and everything got planted and labeled and watered.

I wasn’t quite sure where to put the kits. I ended up placing them on our radiator covers, the ones under windows. The heat was still on, and I worried that the dirt would dry out and the seeds would cook. But I placed the clear plastic covers on each tray and trusted that something would grow.

The next evening, only twenty-four hours after planting, in the midst of the rush of coming home and eating and trying to get the kids upstairs to their bath, Babygirl lifted one of the condensation- fogged covers and exclaimed:

“There’s a pink plant growing!” She pointed with wonder at one dark pink tendril gently looping up from the dirt.

Beets!

From then on, every time we checked, there were new and wonderful things happening, all kinds of varied color shoots and leaves poking, curving, stretching up… The kids were excited, but I was even more excited.

Now, a week later, I’ve had to remove the covers, as the long beans, watermelons, peas and gourds are so tall. We need to start hardening them so they can be planted, so I took the trays off the heaters, and tomorrow, we’ll set them outside during the day. It’s supposed to be in the sixties….

Hopefully, our seedlings will make it from the warmth and safety of the living room to the raw New England springtime, and beyond. I got online and ordered a cedar above-ground garden frame. We have way, way more plants than the four-by-eight garden will hold, so Nana will have an assortment of seedlings too choose from for her backyard garden. And if any local friends/ neighbors are reading: Wanna plant a garden?

 

The kids picked out lots and lots of seeds.
The kids picked out lots and lots of seeds.
Our seedlings are growing gangbusters!
Our seedlings are growing gangbusters!