The Art and Pleasure Growing Seedlings


By Melinda O’Briant/Adult Education Manager

This time of the year, one of the first things I do each morning at Turner Farm is to check on the flats of newly planted seeds in the seeding chamber.  I open the box and a warm mist rises to meet my face with its earthy scent. The flats of potting soil fertilized with individual seeds rests silently in the darkness.  If any flat has even a single small seedling just poking its head out of the fluffy dark brown duff, I move to the greenhouse. 

In the greenhouse, it will start converting the warm sunlight into its own food supply. I have the pleasure of a proud parent as I look at all the little seedlings in the greenhouse.  I observe how they are growing and check to see if they need to be watered, or treated for damping off (a disease of opportunity that thrives in damp, cool conditions).  

There is such joy in this ritual. I’ve even known gardeners who pet their tomato plants with the belief that lightly brushing the tops of tomato plants simulates wind blowing on them thus preparing them to face the challenges of the cruel world outside.

I am anxious and morose in the winter until I have some of these small green babies to nurture.  With the spirit of a child waking up parents in the dark of Christmas morning, I usually beg, and cajole our Crop Production Manager to let me start some seeds in early January. 

My joy may have scientific backing. Experts now tell us that breathing the soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. 

Take one of Turner Farm’s Seed Starting Classes and you too can be on your way to realizing the restorative, and mood elevating benefits of gardening. Mid-summer, when you harvest juicy tomatoes, you will feel very accomplished having started your garden vegetables from tiny specks of seeds.

I’d love to share this joy with you in March. Turner Farm has two sessions of Seed Starting:  Saturday, March 16 and Wednesday, March 20. Each participant will take home one 10 X 20” tray of potting soil and seeds, a schedule of the correct planting dates, hands on instruction on how the seed, and instruction on which seed to start inside, and which seeds to sow directly in the garden.

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