I’d never bought live plants from a catalog before, so they weren’t quite what I expected. I think I’d imagined a small box of punnets, or little plants in tubes. Instead, I got a tiny box with two cling-wrapped bundles. The plants were all bare sticks and wet roots, held tightly together. I untangled them gently and spaced them over their new planter box.
I worried about them the whole time I was planting – were they too deep, too shallow? Did the soil, so black, need more water? Potting mix isn’t like any real dirt of any place I’ve lived. And now the black empty dirt had little bundles of sticks poking out of it.
Waiting for leaves makes me think of Robert Fulghum. When you plant a bean in a cup in kindergarten, the leaves grow up and the roots grow down, and nobody really knows why. I have a science degree with a far wack of biology, and I know the fancy words for it. Gravitropism is growing towards (or away from) gravity, and heliotropism means the movement of the leaves towards the sun. But I don’t know why, either.
Yesterday I looked at my strawberries, wondering if they needed more dirt around their roots. Three of them have developed little green shoots!
Now, instead of worrying about if I planted them right, I’m worrying about frost and birds and grubs. But you know what? The plants don’t know anything about that. They just grow up to the sun, and down into the earth. And nobody knows why.