Some Seed Starting Mistakes Are Funnier Than Others

We've all made seed starting mistakes. Sometimes you can fix them. Other times you just have to laugh and learn.

In the history of seed starting mistakes, there’s no doubt a section with my name on it. We’ve all been there, right? Maybe you go a bit heavy on the water or bury the seed too deeply in the soil. It happens.

Of course, it’s not just the seed stage where mistakes happen. Who among us has not left seedlings out overnight before they were ready? Or came home to discover they hadn’t marked their seedlings and someone ran over them with the lawnmower.

It’s true that sometimes, you just have to laugh and learn from your mistakes. There’s no point in getting upset, especially since there isn’t a whole lot you can do. Some seed starting mistakes, however, make for excellent learning opportunities and excellent stories. Such is the case with today’s story, Too Many Golden Kisses.

Shortly after he bought his first home, Dan Halterman decided to use the cuttings from his large lawn as mulch in his vegetable garden. Ordinarily, this would be a pretty smart move. Grass clippings make great compost and mulch and Dan’s idea to spread the mulch over his newly planted lettuce would have been a stroke of genius. “Would have” because things didn’t turn out quite like he was expecting.

This amusing story is a good reminder even good ideas aren’t immune to mistakes.

We All Make Seed Starting Mistakes, and These Stories Are Here To Prove It 

This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that turn stories of gardening mishaps and mistakes into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope this story does for you as well. Enjoy!

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Too Many Golden Kisses

By Dan Halterman

The first home we ever owned was on—yes—Garden Road. But the soil was poorly drained and heavy. Our “lawn” (i.e., the area we mowed) was a ratty carpet of weeds (a broad variety) and some actual, very hearty grass. I called our place “The Garden Road Center for Botanical Diversity.”

Dandelions dominated the diversity, “those golden kisses all over the cheeks of the meadow … shining in the grass like a spark dropped from the sun.” (Thus wrote Henry Ward Beecher, who was apparently of broader mind than most Americans today.)

Alas, I cleverly decided to spread the cuttings from the lawnmower bag as a light mulch over my newly sown lettuce seed. These turned out to include not a gentle “spark dropped from the sun,” but a virtual conflagration of dandelion seeds, each aching to burn like an arc welder. They leapt to their destiny with wildfire speed. Dandelion sprouts look a lot like lettuce sprouts. I got much of the former, little of the latter—and an education.

“If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn,” Andrew V. Mason waxed.

To which I add: “At least then they wouldn’t have taken over my lettuce bed!”

By Dan Halterman, published originally in 2018, in GreenPrints Issue #113. Illustrated by Marilynne Roach

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What kind of seed starting mistakes have you made? Any particularly funny ones you’d like to share in the comments?


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