Maureen Pratt

Maureen Pratt

In December 2013, at the end of a very difficult year, I hybridized my first African violets. The seeds were harvested in May 2014 and planted in October 2014.

Now, the first plant is setting buds, but I will have to wait a bit longer before seeing the full fruit of my labors. It has been almost a year and a half from hybridizing to bloom — a quick-passing period when I consider it. But it’s a very long time, if viewed from the beginning, before the seeds were formed.

The timing of my indoor gardening activity coincides with spring, when many of us turn our thoughts to the outdoors. With spring might come gardening, but before you can harvest your flowers and food, there are seeds to be planted.

Yes, for anything good to grow, we must first start at the very beginning. That is true not just in horticulture but in anything from which we hope to reap goodness and quality.

We plant seeds each day: seeds of encouragement for someone who is hurting, seeds of beauty to enhance our environment. We plant seeds that we hope will grow into leads for jobs and begin to learn new activities that we hope will sprout into new skills.

We plant seeds of faith and evangelization by our words and deeds, too, something that, in the busyness of life, we might forget from time to time.

As we try to plant our positive seeds, there are plenty of people who try to sow the opposite. All around us, we are met with seeds of doubt, despair, hatred, violence. Some of these seeds are overt. You don’t have to scratch the surface of a news broadcast to find them. Sometimes, they are more subtle (but no less consequential), formed in dour looks, ignorant remarks or fleeting images.

Unfortunately, persistent, grasping weeds can choke out other plant life and, often, a steady exposure to the negative around us can begin to diminish the impact of our hoped-for good results. But if we are vigilant, like any good gardener is, and catch those nasty weeds and other things that might hold back our good efforts, we can prevail.

Shepherding my little grouping of seedlings from their tiny beginnings has taught me that at each stage of growth, vigilance pays off, although it is different with each growth spurt.

I first placed my seeds in soil and enclosed the area in a plastic bag, simulating a greenhouse. It protected them as they sprouted and began to grow. Gradually, as each seed developed several roots and leaves, I was able to move it to a small pot and into another, larger greenhouse. Only when the plants seemed sturdy enough for a larger pot did I lift the lid of their protective greenhouse and place them with the big plants.

Throughout this process, I’ve had to put on more and more patience, a constant work in progress. But beneath my delighted anticipation is great joy: Seeds planted, nurtured and grown put the passage of time to good purpose and bode well for a good, bright and beautiful spring.