You give no thought to the exhausting emotive commitment that you will end up making to your seedlings, when you plant those innocuous little seeds. Why is there no warning on the packet? All it needs to say is “Seeds may seriously damage your state of mind!” or “Not all of us will make it!” We are not talking something big and vulgar, just a line of small red letters at the bottom, next to the expiry date.
Seriously, it’s like being a parent, but to hundreds of wispy, vulnerable, miraculous little offspring. Pre-germination they want heat. Having navigated the debate about radiator vs propagator, you find yourself talking to the surface of the soil. Then, once a few start to emerge, worrying yourself silly about the one or two that have yet to make an appearance. Did you fail them? Did you forget to put a seed in that hole, based on the fact that two miraculously appeared in the cell next door? Co-habiting was certainly not on the spacing schedule.
Post-germination they ask for nothing but light and water, yet you worry about what kind of light and how much water. The more OCD you are, the more complex your worry. What temperature of water is best to encourage strong root growth? Is refracted sunlight through a pane of glass going to be enough to make the required sugars?
As seedlings, they start to demand to go “out” but you need to be firm. Implement a curfew. Tuck them in. Harden them up to the rigours of the big wide world. Warn them about predators. Give them the tools to thrive. When you think that they are ready, you are going to have to take a leap of faith and go for it. It doesn’t stop you checking on them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
As they continue to grow they are going to want feeding. If you subscribe to the no-dig methodology, you have been feeding the soil rather than seeking to feed the plant. Your fridge is full and they have been brought up to help themselves. If not, your shopping trolley will be full of teenage snacks, seaweed, potash and the like…
Finally, you watch as a proud parent as they begin to flourish. You help them to stand up straight, encourage companionship and help to secure them a new home. You even take a picture for social media as they graduate and fly the nest, hoping that they make you proud.
Like I said, exhausting.