I should have known this was what would happen. In fact, I should have thought this was a 100% probability event, with my luck.
When I set off on vacation, my mind was still on the house, at least until I reached the airport. I didn’t worry about whether I had locked the front door, or whether I had switched off the gas. I worried about more improbable events, like whether a sudden severe thunderstorm would flood my basement, or whether I was wise to leave my dishwasher running – what if it suddenly decided to malfunction and flood my kitchen?
Flooding, as you can see, figured strongly in my worries. Lack of water did not. So I certainly didn’t worry about my plants. I was leaving my plants for more than a week without water. Most of those plants were tender seedlings, and yet I did not worry.
In fact, in my mind, I had it all planned out. I didn’t have high hopes that my seedlings would survive anyway.
When I first announced to my friend A that I had bought 2 packs of tomato seeds, she was shocked.
“How many seeds did you buy?” she asked.
“Oh, one has 20 seeds of hybrid tomatoes, and the other has probably a hundred seeds of cherry tomatoes”, I said airily.
“Oh my god, don’t plant all of them!” she implored urgently. “Every single one of them will grow!”
This looked like a very good scenario, but I was less hopeful. “No, not with my skills and my luck” , I assured her. “I am sure half the seeds will never germinate, and then most of the seedlings will die mysteriously, and then there is always the good chance that I will forget to water them for a few days. Given all this, I am assuming probably 2% of the seeds will survive.”
It was in this spirit that I set off for vacation.
I had planted the twenty hybrid seeds in individual seed containers. The packet had promised twenty seeds, but I found there were actually twenty two seeds. And the hundred or so cherry tomato seeds I just strew in a tray. All these sat in my basement, near the large glass doors that brought in plenty of sunlight.
The seedlings came up a few days before I left. I watered whenever I remembered, and then, of course, they were on their own.
So when I came back, I had a good idea what to expect. There would be a famine in my basement, I knew, and I would see some malnourished plants, and some unfortunate deaths.
But what do I find instead? Rows and rows of healthy seedlings which seemed to have not missed me at all. Beside them, the hibiscus shrub had even put out flowers! You could see that not only was there no famine, the plants were probably partying in my absence.
This was very upsetting. Now, I can understand if those tomato seedlings didn’t want to die, even though that upsets all my percentage probability plans. I can even go so far as to forgive them for it. But couldn’t they have had the good grace to droop, or wilt, or look just a little uncomfortable?
Do they have to look fresh and cheerful, and put out multiple leaves? Do they all have to germinate?
At a glance, I could see that twenty one of the twenty two hybrid tomatoes had come up. This was awful. But I also found myself wondering what had happened to the twenty second seed. I was vaguely disappointed it hadn’t come up as well, but on the whole I was inclined to like it for staying away.
A few days later, when I started replanted the seedlings in larger pots, I found the twenty second one too – there were two seedlings in one container. (Can you spot the container with 2 seedlings in the picture? Tell me which one it is. )
Then there are the hundred cherry tomato seedlings. Yes, all those seeds have germinated too, or at least that’s what it looks like – I have certainly not tried counting them. My basement now resembles a miniature tomato forest.
But I am fortunate for now – they are still seedlings. I wonder how I am going to be able to manage them when they grow older. Will I need a hundred and twenty two pots for the tomatoes? How long before they outgrow the pots? I am having anxiety attacks already.
There’s nothing else to be done, I will need to dig a vegetable patch for them in the backyard.
Folks, it looks like Twisted Ankle and Busted Back will be back in action this summer.