With us of seed beds and gardens, it is different. We wish present visible growth, and so we must be willing to lend aid, and first aid to such seeds is to give them a whiff of moist heat to soften what has become more hard than desirable through man’s intervention. For in wild nature the seed is sown as soon as it ripens, and falls to the care of the ground before the vitality of the parent plant has quite passed from it. That is why the seed of a hardy plant, self-sown at midsummer, grows with so much more vigour than kindred seed that has been lodged in a packet since the previous, season.
My way of “first aiding” these seeds is to tie them loosely in a wisp of fine cheese-cloth or muslin, leaving a length of string for a handle (as tea is sometimes prepared for the pot by those who do not like mussy tea leaves). Dip the bag in hot (not boiling) water, and leave it there at least an hour, oftentimes all night. In this way the seed is softened and germination awakened. I have left pansy seeds in soak for twenty-four hours with good results. Of course the seed should be planted before it dries, and rubbing it in a little earth (after the manner of flouring currants for cake) will keep the seeds from sticking either to the fingers or to each other.
What a contrast it all is, our economy and nature’s lavishness; our impatience, nature’s calm assurance! In the garden the sower feels a responsibility, the sweat beads stand on the brow in the sowing. With nature undisturbed it may be the blind flower of the wild violet perfecting its moist seed under the soil, a nod of a stalk to the wind, a ball of fluff sailing by, or the hunger of a bird, and the sowing is done.
THEIR GARDEN VACATION
(From Mary Penrose to Barbara Campbell)
WOODRIDGE, May 10.
“DEAR MRS. EVAN,
“For the past week I have been delving in the seed bed, and until it was an accomplished fact, that is as far as putting on the top sheet of finely sifted dirt over the seeds sleeping in rows and rounding the edges after the most approved methods of bed-making, praying the while for a speedy awakening, I had neither fingers for pen, ink, and paper, nor the head to properly think out the answer to your May-day invitation.
“So you have heard that we are to take a long vacation this summer, and therefore ask us to join your driving and tramping trip in search of garden and sylvan adventure; in short to become your fellow-strollers in the Forest of Arden, now transported to the Berkshires.
“It was certainly a kind and gracious thought of yours to admit outsiders into the intimacies of such a journey, and on the moment we both cried, ‘Yes, we will go!’ and then appeared but—that little word of three letters, and yet the condensation of whole volumes, that is so often the stumbling-block to enthusiasm.