Tis Pity He's a Writer

Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor

Tiny Tomato Killer Strikes Again

Tomato-Seed-PacketIt is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, or so says some annoying pundit.  Likewise, I suppose, it is better to do something positive than curse the mounds of snow still encircling us.  I’ve always been of the curse the darkness ilk, but occasionally I do try and rise above the winter of my discontent and light a candle in the snow.  One of the better remedies for my malaise is the old seed catalog – tiptoeing through the tulips, tomatoes and zinnias almost brings warmth to my icy heart.

If you ever order anything from a seed catalog, you will never have to worry about being without one again.  They will arrive every January just as reliably as your income tax packets.  There’s Seed City, Happy Seeds, Seeds R Us and many more.  Funny thing is they all come from the same little town in the Midwest.  One could develop a dandy conspiracy theory about this: a single little old lady – Granny Burpee – taking seeds out of great big jars and putting them in little envelopes with all those different names so that every spring every one of us plants the same seeds in every garden everywhere.  Are we really planting radishes and marigolds?

Nevertheless I jump in full seed ahead.  Seven tomato varieties, a couple of cucumbers, greens, beans, okra.  Snapdragons, sweet peas, exotic species I’ve never heard of.  “And there’s no such thing as too many sunflowers,” I’m reminded.

There is such a thing as too many seeds, however.  Granny Burpee doesn’t hold back – a hundred seeds here, two hundred there, a thousand.  I’d like to order six tomato seeds, please.  I really only need two cucumber seeds.  The theory seems to be that you must over plant, just in case some of them don’t sprout.

But they all sprout.

I wanted a couple of tomatoes.  I planted a plastic seed-starting tray, two or three seeds in each of its six cubicles.  Twenty tomato plants emerge.  Just thin out the extra plants, the catalogs advise, leaving one healthy tomato plant in each cubicle.  That’s theory again.  From over my shoulder, as I carefully pull out the runts of the seedlings:  “You’re not going to murder those little plants, are you?”

Come June, I have twenty tomato plants, a dozen cucumbers, a dozen nasturtium, I don’t know how many dozen sunflowers, a sea of seedlings that I forgot to label, and six zucchini.   With six zucchini plants, I’ll be able to place a giant zucchini on the back seat of every unlocked car in Vermont.

Maybe I’ll curse the darkness for a while.

(This post originally appeared back in 2010.)


10 comments on “Tiny Tomato Killer Strikes Again

  1. elroyjones
    April 3, 2013

    Yay! Chocolate zucchini cake!


  2. MarthaDeboroah
    April 3, 2013

    Peter’s theory is that if that many seeds come in a packet either plant them all or save the partially empty packet until your wife gets sick of seeing open packets hanging around. At least there is no cry about “killing all those seedlings” The idea of placing a zucchini in every unlocked car is appealing!


    • Richard Daybell
      April 4, 2013

      Unfortunately, I too subscribe to Peter’s theory — with emphasis on the latter part.


  3. melanielynngriffin
    April 3, 2013

    I just bought my lettuce seeds! We have a late spring here in Maryland, too, so I haven’t planted anything. Problem is, a late spring here usually means 95 degrees in late May, so peas and greens shrivel.
    Enjoy your catalogues!


    • Richard Daybell
      April 4, 2013

      I’m past the catalogues. Little seedlings by the dozens. But it’s been so cold here that they’re all in bed with us.


      • melanielynngriffin
        April 6, 2013

        I’m impressed!
        I’m also impressed w/ my arugula, which seeded itself from last year and has already gone to flower! Time for some big salads. Maybe some day I’ll swing by and visit your garden when I’m up at my place in New Hampshire.
        Happy sprouting! Stay warm


  4. vishalbheeroo
    April 20, 2013

    Interesting stuff:)


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