My seedlings need repotting. The paper cups are holding them for now. Their stems are thickening. Their leaves are green and strong. Their roots are peeking through the holes I poked in the bottom of the cups.
They turn to the light from the window. I rotate them every so often to give them a chance to face a different way. I think this should make them more well-rounded. But I'm not sure how much that matters. What matters more is making sure the taller plants don't block the light of the smaller ones, since they all share space on the trays by the window.
I check their soil more than once a day, to make sure it is still moist. I know the peas drink faster than the rest. They're looking for something to climb.
I resist the thought to plant them outside, even though April is here and beckoning. It was seventy degrees and sunny two days ago, and tempting. But there is a quiet wisdom in me that tells me, "Not yet. May will come soon enough."
Yesterday, the wind rattled and rain blew sideways. This morning I wake to a layer of snow on the ground.
I was right to keep them here.
There are experts with the greenest thumbs and reliable weather vanes. They've done this long enough to advise people to wait until the last frost (though some are too impatient or uninformed or can't be bothered). The day is no mystery--it's predicted with impressive accuracy by the weatherman, and I circle it on the calendar. I trust it, and look forward to it. I love my seedlings. I will love planting day too.
Of course, you don't just go and stick them in the dirt all at once. First you get their feet wet, so to speak, with a process called hardening. You take them out of doors for some fresh air, a little exposure to the elements, a handshake with a bee or two. Then it's back inside. You do this over the course of days, increasing the duration a little each time. So when you finally introduce them to the garden bed and let them stay, they'll be confident enough to be willing to extend their roots and accept their newer, vaster home. It's more dangerous out there. There are bugs that will nibble their leaves, voles that will gnaw on their roots if they get the chance. I take precautions. I'll plant marigolds and green onions nearby to ward off the pests. I'll set traps for the voles. But I can't prevent acts of God or Nature.
So I'll pray. I'll check in every day. I'm prepared for the work, expecting some to thrive and some to go awry. I'll give them the best conditions to help them bloom.
None of this will matter, though, if I don't plant them in a sunny spot. That's my part. The rest is up to them. But they know how to grow because they know what they are, (though they might not be conscious of it). The growing part is in their DNA.
I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, there's still snow outside. But they're ready for more. So this time in between sprouting and hardening, I'll repot. I'll give the climbing ones trellises. Some fertilizer or peat moss for the ones with paler leaves. I'll put the smaller ones closest to the window. Because there's still so much room to grow in this house, and so much to do.
May will be here soon enough. And we’ll be ready.