Friday, May 10, 2013

Bad seeds, good apples

A few weeks ago, in an early burst of spring cleaning, a most interesting item rose to the surface:  a zip-lock bag of semilla de marijuana, donated to me in a jestfull moment at a "Bakefield" (ie, Wakefield, stoned) garage sale last summer, or maybe the one before it.  Despite repeated yet fleeting ruminations over the years of supplementing my piano-paltry income with an illegal grow-op, I have yet to stoop so low, or so risque.  After all public image is a factor for a piano teacher.  So I have thought it best not.

Plus, my relationship in principle to the wacky weed has grown to be a contentious one at best.  Whether this is for actual reasons or just to be different in a sea of stoners is up for grabs, as usual.  But the power of planting hormones overtook me.  So I lovingly embedded my garage sale seeds in little round pots of black earth and placed them neatly on the sunniest windowsill.  Maybe I had grown harsh and snotty in my I-don't-agree-with-you-John-Akpata anti-marijuana polemic, and this horticultural experiment would soften my soap box wee(d)totaller vigilance through a slow sprouting mother-offspring love relationship that watching something grow inevitably inspires.

Bad Seeds?
There is something very exciting about planting those very first seeds during an April cold snap, when you are chilled to the bone and tired of all things winter.  Whether they are tomatoes or onions, cucumbers or strawberries, or marijuana seeds, these pots of dirt become promises you want to believe in.  They are a gesture of faith and hope at the trailing edge of a long Canadian cold, and you become that desperate soul who checks for inbox messages from god in the form of green shoots more times per day than you would like to admit.  It doesn't matter if those pots of dirt survive to hit the tongs of your fork as a juicy red tomato, or if they dry up and get thrown in the compost.  They serve to get us through.

Mine didn't make it.  They never sprouted.  Bad seeds I guess. 

Good Apples?
Luckily I was distracted by another wave of horicultural urge while visiting my father's apple orchard on the family farm in New York.  He has been an apple grower for decades now, and most of his prize trees were created by grafting from other ones that bore prize winning fruit.  Over a half century he has nurtured a diverse orchard of fruit bearing trees into existence, that all started with some sticks and a tar can.  Its a very slow process, requireing a different sort of approach to time and totally different interpretation of patience.

            So I clipped some twigs from my favorite Horak apple tree and smuggled them across the border in a wet paper towel.  A few days later, I climbed up the stepladder with a tube of silicone and did my very first grafts onto the scrubby crabapple tree in the yard, no knowing exactly what I was doing, but hoping the delicate cambrian layers would touch, and the silicone would provide an adequate seal for the grafts to take.  Three weeks later I am happy to report, the twigs are not dead.  We're having a spring heat wave and the crabtree is pushing out its leaves in a hormonal explosion.  I have tossed the dried up marijuana pots and am focusing on the apple twigs.  By far I prefer a good apple to a bad seed.

Meanwhile, my sister writes from Florida.  She just dug a huge bunch of unexpected potatoes out of her compost pile.  Some things spring to life on their own, unplanned, in a most joyous harvest 'sin trabajo'.  Others take patience, intention, and work.  And still others well, they just won't grow.  So let go!  And keep planting.  And let nature do the rest.