Planting Heirlooms

June 15, 2008 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Yesterday evening I cleared out the bed where I had early season spinach and radishes in preparation for putting in some Burpee’s Stringless beans that I had previously ordered from Seed Savers Exchange. This morning, I planted the seeds.

I always try to be careful and mindful when I’m putting in seeds or plants. It is an activity that closely resembles prayer in my estimation. And I do try to keep my focus on the momentous leap of faith I’m making by putting little dried bits into the ground and having an expectation of plants, flowers, fruits, and more seeds. It always strikes me as just the least little bit outrageous.

But I admit sometimes I’m in a hurry. And my sense of wonder may be a bit more routinized than I would optimally wish it to be. Sort of like a hurried and harried grace before a meal that is squeezed between school pickup and baseball practice.

This morning, tho, was a different thing entirely. The seeds of the Burpee Stringless were of a different order than any bean seed I’d planted in the past. They were few in number. They were a deep, reddish brown. They were large and oval and very smooth. They had a weight and heft that demanded attention and respect. And along with the usual planting directions the seed packet contained specific instructions for saving the seed for the following season.

As I mindfully and carefully pushed the beans into the fluffy compost, I reflected on the work and care and attention represented by those seeds in my hand. People before me, generations of them, worked to reward certain qualities in a bean plant, fussed over the plants like children, tested and evaluated the result, found it good. These legions of folks before me considered the bean promising enough to preserve, saved seed, planted and saved — kept the strain going and passed it into my hands. I felt that full weight of responsibility, the covenant that I accepted by the act of planting those seeds. And it felt good.

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Entry filed under: gardening, Piedmont.

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