I have no self-control, chapter eight zillion and two: gardening.

I have exceeeeeeeedingly little self-control.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever met me. A couple of weeks ago I stopped in at a CVS to buy some conditioner. I have a tremendously reprehensible habit of wandering among the aisles of a convenience store with the vague intention of laughing at all of the bizarre items the store’s decision-makers seem to think I won’t be able to live without. Often, this turns into me toying with the idea of spending four dollars on yet another coloring book. That day, it turned into me deciding that, yes, I really did want something to replace the basil which gave up the ghost a couple of months ago.

$1.99 for a tiny terra cotta pot labeled “Zinnia Grow Kit” and instructions to plant 5 seeds in the pot? Well, $2 is steep for the, what, maybe 8 seeds I could expect to find in that itty bitty little packet, but…I want plantlife. So I bought it. I took the little package home, set the plastic bag on my table, and forgot about it for the rest of the week.

Last Sunday was my elder nephew’s birthday. Because he lives on the west coast for some godforsaken reason, I had to wait until he might feasibly be awake before calling to wish him Happy. As I pondered my choices for filling my time between the consumption of coffee and three-year-old-awakeness, I recalled the Zinnia Grow Kit. When I tore it open I was bemused to find that the eeny weeny packet of seeds held more than eight seeds. Exactly how many, I couldn’t have said, but I was content to consider it a nebulous “more than expected” number.

I planted five seeds in the tiny pot as instructed then pulled the old Cool Whip containers I’d originally started the basil out in to plant the rest. Potting soil in the hall closet, plastic wrap from the kitchen to cover the containers, doot-dee-doo, humhumhum, planting planting planting pla….wait. I now had two fully seeded containers and the itty bitty pot but there were more seeds waiting in the packet.

I dithered a bit, played a game on my computer, drank more coffee, and folded the seed packet up so the leftover seeds wouldn’t fall out. I got up and brushed my teeth. I checked the clock and decided it was still too early to call California. I perched on the couch with a Games magazine. I twitched. I got halfway through a puzzle. I threw the magazine down and went to dig through my recycling.

One of the problems with the embarrassment of winter weather we’ve had here in the Boston area is that the recycling bins of the apartment building vanished under snow and ice back in early February and remained AWOL until last week. I’ve been able to haul trash out to the dumpster but there hasn’t been anywhere to put recycling other than “out of the path of foot traffic.” I knew there was an egg carton in there somewhere…!

A seed in every well, a plastic bag under it to protect the windowsill from moisture, a thorough watering, aaaaand there were still more seeds left in the packet. Again I folded the packet over and made an effort to do other things. The seed packet sat on the footstool next to my laptop. Staring at me.

This is when I gave up and called my mother. “This is ludicrous,” I said, turning the camera view around so she could see the assemblage of containers (thank heavens for video chat), “there are more. I know there’s another egg carton in the fridge but I’d have to eat the eggs first!”

“Eggs fit nicely into bowls,” my mother pointed out.

Too much helping, Mum.

Not long after we ended the phone call, I gave in and put the eggs into a plastic bowl and absconded with the carton. This time, I planted a minimum of two seeds in every egg well. And I exclaimed, aloud, “What!” when I still had seven seeds sitting in my hand. I was officially out of bowl-shaped things I was willing to punch drainage holes into. It was time to get creative.

Spelunking through the recycling turned up a couple of empty bottles from quarts of orange juice or milk, lots of empty tomato cans, two large strawberry containers, and, finally, a one-pint container that had originally held blueberries. Fruit containers are not ideal planters. They have large gaps to allow water to spill out which also would allow expensive seed-starting potting soil to fall out. You know by now that I’m obsessive compulsive to the point of not being able to leave seven seeds unplanted but another thing I am is: fiendishly addicted to coffee.

What does a coffee drinker have lying around on her counters? Filters for Mr. Coffee.

I am here to inform you that a coffee filter fits just fine into a pint blueberry container and does a bang-up job of keeping soil from washing away from the seeds and into your living room carpet.

The last seven seeds were finally planted. I arranged everything on my windowsill, then blinked. It dawned on me: I had at least a dozen seeds here, two dozen there, five in the pot, seven over here, who knows how many in either of the Cool Whip containers…! For $2, I had gotten at least 5 dozen seeds.

After three days, the first green was appearing. Stems are now pushing up against the plastic wrap of their containers while more seedlings continue to appear. As of this afternoon I have 57 visible seedlings and five or six egg wells across the two egg cartons that show no signs of growth yet but may still develop something.

I have bought seeds at supermarkets, at hardware stores, at garden supply centers, gathered them lovingly from seedpods. I have never had this rate of success! As ridiculous as my windowsill looks right now, with its assortment of shoddy plant holders, I am utterly delighted with my “garden.” I believe my first words to my father when he answered my phone call the other day were, “I am a proud plant parent!” This morning, of course, on the last day of the week the seeds were planted, I sat on my sofa and I munched on my leftover soda bread and I wondered vaguely what the future might hold for my little plantlings.

When asked on Sunday what I planned to do with them when they got big enough to transplant to a garden, I had responded, “I don’t know. Maybe give them to friends?”


Thank you for existing, Amazon.com.

I bought a window box. And more potting soil. And some spikes and tubing for a container-garden self-watering system. Because I have no self-control.

Yea, and I shall hoard my zinnias to myself like a particularly floral dragon, raining fire on all who come near as clearly they desire my bounty for themselves. Those plants shall be glamorous and they are mine, all mine, precious, yessssss, gol-lum, gol-lum!

And the next time I find myself eyeballing a packet of organic heirloom seeds, I’ll poke myself in that eye and then go to CVS.



2 thoughts on “I have no self-control, chapter eight zillion and two: gardening.

    • I’ve thought about it, actually!! Sadly, my green thumbs and my clumsy fingers do not always get along when it comes to delicate things like tiny garden structures. Oh, but the things I’ve studied on Pinterest…!

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