A Packet of Seeds

So much…from so little!

decorative border
Illustrations by Chelsea Peters

What does a packet of seeds mean to you? For me, they first meant going door-to-door in my neighborhood, selling seeds as a fundraiser for my third-grade class. I don’t remember what we sold, how much the seeds cost, or what the money was for. But I remember the colorful pack-ages and wishing that I could grow the flowers and vegetables pictured on them. My family wasn’t interested in gardening, however.

As soon as I grew older and got my own home, I put packets of seeds on my shopping list every Spring. To this day, I still scour the grocery store racks and visit local greenhouses to find old standards and try new varieties. I love putting a hard-coated seed into the ground or a starter pot and waiting in anticipation to see its first hint of green appear. It takes longer to see the fruits of my labors than when I buy starter plants, but there is great satisfaction in eating tomatoes and cucumbers sowed by my own hand. Watching annuals such as zinnias and nasturtiums that I started burst into bloom never ceases to amaze and please me. It is also exciting to try new plants—like loufa gourds (Cucurbita cylindrica Luffa) I hope will one day dry into scrubbing sponges. Will I be successful in getting cup and saucer vine (Cobaea scandens) to propagate this time?

That one is always a challenge.

What does a packet of seeds mean to you?To me, it means flowers, fruits, accomplishment, knowledge, camaraderie…

Through the years, packets of seeds have taken on additional meanings. My gardening friends and I start a variety of different plants each year and share seedlings. Some of the plants reseed and when I see new sprouts emerge the following year, I always make the connection with the giver. “Look,” I cry, “the Aztec nicotiana that Joyce started. I can’t wait to smell its flowers.” Or: “Here’s the cosmos that Sue gave me. How nice to see it again this year.” Some of the plants started from seed are perennials, such as rudbeckia and monarda, and when they can be divided, they are shared with more friends. The cycle continues.

In recent years, I became involved with a volunteer gardening group that maintains the public flowerbeds here in Saltsburg, PA. Each year, we sponsor a fundraiser in which members sell perennials potted from their gardens and also plants started from seed. A simple packet of 25 moonflower seeds (Ipomoea alba Calonyction) costing less than $5 can translate into as much as $50 in earnings for the group. The profits are similar for other seedlings: small investment, large payoff. In addition to making money for replanting and renovating the town gardens, we get to talk with the customers every year. Sharing our love of gardening and knowledge with others is a priceless extra benefit from that little packet of seeds.

What does a packet of seeds mean to you? To me, it means flowers, fruits, vegetables, accomplishment, shared knowledge, camaraderie—and a few dollars for a good cause. That is quite a return for a small investment.


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