When I was growing up, our next-door neighbor was quite the gardener, and a native. My parents were city kids new to Colorado, and my mom learned what she could from him about our fascinating growing predicament in the high plains of the Rocky Mountain west. We have sandy, clay-filled soil. We can (but will not necessarily) get snow all the way up until Memorial Day, and as early as Labor Day. In the hottest part of the summer, we have cold nights and long stretches of days over 90 and 100 degrees, spiked with lots of volatile thunderstorms and hail. Many days, our temperature varies 30 degrees from day to night, and 50-degree swings are not at all unusual.
Surveying my window of seedlings in pulp pots, this weekend, my mom said Patterson told her to always plant four seeds for every plant you wanted: “One for the rook and one for the crow, one for God and one to grow.”
This afternoon, we had our first hailstorm of the season. I was mostly lucky— most of my plants are still inside on the windowsill. My spring veggies are either root veggies, or not substantial enough to sustain real damage (though there’ll be no more radish-green salads anytime soon). My broccoli seedlings, recently thinned and transplanted, may or may not recover, but I think I’ll get at least one plant from them.
This year, I thought I’d reduce waste and I bought my seeds with another friend with a smallish garden. My food garden is all in containers, and I don’t have a lot of room to work with. In theory, it’s a good idea. Slightly less convenient, but I don’t have to throw away all those seeds at the end of the season.
But with Patterson’s wisdom ringing in my ears, I look at my pulp pot and a spare, for each of the summer veggies, even knowing that there are multiple seeds in each pulp pot, and think I haven’t planted nearly enough.