Seed Bottles and Marigolds
Another Northern winter, and I’m still growing food. With actual dirt/compost. Mainly indoors. With the entirely well-meaning but nevertheless spastic help of a toddler. It usually turns out to be the absolute picture of (1) dirty and (2) hopeless. Yet, despite the mess that I despise cleaning up, and the myriad frustrations of coaxing green from tiny, salvaged containers, I am compelled, again and again, to farm my few precious square inches.
The quintuple-barreled goal that keeps me going: a practical, inexpensive indoor garden that I enjoy tending, harvesting, and looking at. So many virtues, so little time.
My latest endeavor involves quart jars, kraft paper, twine, and the aforementioned homemade dirt. During their construction, Freya called them “seed bottles,” and the name has stuck. I like to think they say “Martha Stewart” and “recycling bin” in the same breath. They’re now hanging (I assume, since I haven’t heard them crashing down) in one of our window bays, planted with Mâche and arugula, and soaking up the noonday reflections off the deeply bedded snow. It’s January in New Hampshire, and the condo farm persists. Grow.
Another one of our projects has been collecting seeds from last season’s marigolds. The plants are Tangerine Gem Signet marigolds — bushy, low-growing beauties with bright orange blossoms that tasted like citrus peel. At the end of the season I yanked up two dozen or so and shoved them into a paper bag, where they stayed until I was ready to concentrate on them yesterday. As I mangled the dried blooms, mining the tiny, black-and-tan seeds that look for all the world like porcupine quills, they released their last scent of orange peel. Anything worth doing is worth doing well — that’s how my fiancé lives, anyway, and constantly inspires me — and so it was that I could learn to pick out the promising blossoms from the duds full of unripened seeds. So often while I’m deeply engaged in these throwback gardening tasks, I come up for a breath and wonder what the hell it’s all good for. And, almost always, the only, the most comforting answer is: it’s profoundly good for me.