I can picture her there – a sweater, a pair of worn-up jeans, soil all over her long fingers. Her shoulders are sloped over the garden benches as she drops hundreds of individual tomato seeds into seedling flats.  She sings while she works.

Garden Peach Tomato Seedlings

Just one of the tomato varieties we’re growing this year.

Two springs before she died, Mom planted several hundred tomato seedlings. . .  several hundred. . . maybe a thousand.  She started them – as we are doing for the first time this year – under grow lights, watering, tending, warming them each day to get them going before the ground outside even thawed enough to work.

That year, she gave away hundreds of plants, gifted friends with grape tomato starts and Big Boy starts and  placed them as centerpieces on the tables at her students’ piano recital.  Then, she and dad planted dozens of them in their own garden.  If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, you know that a few dozen plants for two people is about a few dozen minus two too many.

Dad and I teased her for this, and she laughed at her own enthusiasm, which sprouted, I’m sure, from the last, dark days of winter. I understand exactly how she felt.  I am so beyond ready for spring.

Now, in our closet, we have trays of seedlings germinating, and I have started at least a hundred tomato plants, too, along with leeks, asparagus, marigolds, several variety of peppers, and a bunch of herbs.  (I’m ambitious and planning for years to come.)  Soon, their little fairy-like heads will peek out of the soil in the miracle that turns a dry sliver of atoms into a living, breathing plant.

Starting Garden Seedlings

We have more room in our closet than anywhere else in the house, so the seedlings begin life with our shoes.

We will probably give some of these starts away, too, and sell some in the Farm Store as well.  And we will most definitely be putting up tomatoes and drying kale for keeping.  Plus, our surplus produce will be available in the Voting House for sale come summer, too.  It’s so exciting to start this part of our farm business.

For me, though, the joy is in sloping my shoulders over those trays and pushing one seed at a time into fresh earth. . . and thinking about my mom, knowing she took such joy in this, too. Sometimes, I sing.

By the way, we will have 60 kale plants. Like mother, like daughter, right?