This part of the process is called “hardening off,” when I take my wee precious seedlings and start putting them out into the big bad sunny windy world — so they can get used to how life is going to be when they get planted this weekend.
They’re all pretty “leggy,” which means their stems are a bit longer than they should be, probably. This is why they’re falling down and blowing around in today’s windy weather. But they’re pretty strong. What you see here are some cucumbers, zucchini and, that last yellowish one… it’s a watermelon. It grew from a seed that I saved from a melon that came from my father’s garden.
I don’t know how that one is going to turn out. If he grew hybrids, which I wouldn’t doubt for a minute, the fruit I grow could be very different from the melon that made that seed. We’ll give it a try, though. A second watermelon is sprouting, too. Very slowly. I’m thrilled to think that I might be able to carry on something from my father’s beloved garden. He would probably laugh at me for being so sentimental — he was a very practical hard-nosed farmer and rancher. But I don’t care. It works for me and brings him to mind all the time.
We talked about gardening during one of the “good” times in his last couple of years — when he was discharged from the hospital, went to a rehab facility, and came out breathing so well he didn’t need his oxygen. (Not to mention not smoking!). I went up for a weekend with just Rory, and we spent the weekend talking and preparing for gardening.
He sent me home with enough wood to make a raised bed, a big-wheeled wagon for hauling around supplies, and all the makings for an electric fence (to keep the critters away). I grew up not having very much in common with my father — it was my brother that he took hunting, after all. But gardening, and preserving the harvest, was an interest we discovered we shared in his last few years; I’m so thankful for that.