Break out the seeds and soil

ESCANABA – Starting from seed is more than just an economical way to begin your garden. It is totally mentally uplifting.

I remember as a small child climbing the wooden stairs at my Grandpa Rose’s house and wandering past the sewing room to the south east bedroom.

There lined up in the sunny window were empty waxed milk cartons, pots and containers of every kind with little wisps of green vegetation showing in them.

Even though the April air was still stiff and chilly outside the window, inside the glass, a quiet, calm little garden was growing.

My grandfather was an avid gardener. As a Kansas transplant to the U.P., Grandpa Rose loved everything green and growing. He saved seeds every autumn from his vegetables. He dried them and then in April, he planted them in whatever containers he could find.

For about a month the sunny upstairs of his Gladstone home was transformed into his greenhouse. Tomatoes, cucumbers and kohlrabi and cabbage, Grandpa pointed out how the leaves on each sprout looked different.

It was so exciting to see how fast they’d germinate and grow when snowflakes still occasionally flicked at the outside of the window.

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, hybrid seeds and hot house garden plants were not nearly as common as they are today. Most gardeners started their plants from seed.

Years later when I was in my teens, I caught the green thumb bug, too. I wanted to start tomato seeds in the window at my mom’s house. She reluctantly moved aside some of her African violets so that I could have room in the dining room window for plants.

My dad made several handy, sturdy wooden trays just the right size to hold plastic or Styrofoam cups of soil. Beef steak and Gurney Girls thrived in the sunshine until just after Memorial Day weekend. Then they found spent the rest of their life in the garden.

I had an uncle who started plants from seed, too. We would sort of have a competition on who could grow the healthiest plants. April 1 – April fool’s Day – seemed to be the official starting date to get your seeds in the soil.

Today, when all of the bright, succulent looking seed catalogs come in the mail right after New Year’s, it’s time to get planning. When the pretty packages of seeds hit the isles at the store, it’s time to get some potting soil, peat pots or containers.

One of the nice things about marring a country boy is that (if he has inherited the green thumb) you can usually get him to start the seeds that you’ve chosen.

The wooden boxes that my dad made so many years ago are still in use. If you could add up all of the plants that were started in these boxes, you’d have quite a large beanstalk.

As we wait and wait for spring to come to the North Country, it is so helpful to watch little sprouts grow as the stubborn snow melts. Every day, when you check your plants growth, you cannot help but smile as you see them shoot up into the sunshine.

Find a warm, sunny, cat free window in your house and start some seeds. Seedlings are guaranteed to make you smile.

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.