Humans can make a contest out of any endeavor if we put our minds to it. If you doubt that statement drop by the North Carolina State Fair website and browse the categories of competitions. There’s something disturbing yet intriguing about tomatoes the size of small watermelons. Wonder if I can stuff the squirrel that devoured the choicest tomatoes from my garden and enter him in the fair?
This summer my friend, John, returned from a trip with several seeds from the fruit of a Loquat tree. I had to look it up, too, so open another tab and learn something new. My son-in-law, Daniel, tells me the fruit is to die for, and his endorsement gave me an idea. Why not hold a seed-to-tree speed growing contest?
My last experience growing trees from seeds was with the Jonsteen Company’s Giant Sequoia Genuine Tree Seed Germination Kit. I followed their instructions, managed to sprout three seeds and wondered where I would install a Sequoia on our quarter acre lot. The idea of a contest with my daughters to see who could grow the biggest tree germinated. We agreed I would tend the sprouts through the first winter, and the contest would begin in earnest the following spring.
Alas, only one seedling survived. After three years that Giant Sequoia has reached the breathtaking height of…just slightly taller than a pencil. I think my seeds came from Giant Sequoia’s distant cousin, Runt, but he’s an honest plant that I’ve enjoyed from the start. He will occupy an honored place in my garden as long as his tendrils are green. Plants are plants, no matter how small.
I divided the precious loquat seeds into three groups. Group 1 passed to my wife, Shawn, who has this magic sprouting trick she performs with a damp paper towel, a Ziploc bag, and a warm spot above the fridge. Group 2 went into a pot filled with my best sifted compost and located in the sunniest spot in the shade garden. Group 3 waited in reserve to replace Group 2 if no sprouting action occurred.
Shawn’s two seeds sprouted within ten days and were promoted into indoor pots. Two leaves became four leaves and in short order we had healthy plants well on their way to delivering a future crop. I returned a plant to John and left the second under the grow light.
Meanwhile, outside in the compost, a third sprout popped up a week later. When two well-formed leaves were waltzing with the breeze I transplanted the tree into a pot for Daniel. My daughter, Amanda, made space under her grow light for the new addition.
Now I planted the seeds from Group 3 outdoors and waited. After four weeks one sprouted. That plant, destined for my daughter, Michelle, and a new life in her three-bedroom terrarium, was six weeks behind the front runner but that’s OK. Michelle, with her two green thumbs and two green toes, needed a handicap to make the contest fair. Any plant I pass her way immediately leaps heavenward, and I think the green-force is strong in this one.
Where are we in our contest? John’s entry is running a close race with Daniel’s.
But watch out, guys. Michelle has only just begun to grow.
Sometimes joy comes not from winning but in joining others in a common cause. Besides, no matter who harvests the first fruit, I bet I’ll get a taste.
The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9