My first memory of trying to grow a plant was immediately after reading Jack and the Beanstalk at age 4 or 5. I dug a hole in the ground, dropped in a seed, covered it with mud, poured an ample amount of water and went off to sleep. My disappointment at not finding a giant beanstalk leading into a cloud on waking up put me off plants for years.
Years later after I’d moved into an independent apartment, I thought I’d add some life with plants. I was off to the market outside Mumbai University and picked up a handful of colorful potted plants. I was told that all I needed to do was water them regularly. Much to my horror, the plants died in a few days.
“Oh you must have watered them too much” or “too little”, “did they get enough sunlight”, to “maybe you aren’t good with plants” were some of the condolence messages I received. The last one did sting though.
My hopelessness was countered with hope from Peter Gabriel’s stop motion animation video for ‘Digging In The Dirt’ and several Nat Geo slow motion videos which showed the magic of a seed sprouting into a plant almost magically. I had to experience this in person!
Years later, older and not necessarily wiser, I attended a gardening workshop at my then workplace. Each one of us was given a packet of seeds (spinach, chilies and fenugreek), some coco peat and paper cups to grow them in. I had to break my spell and these had to survive! I’d wake up every morning and rush to the box to check if anyone of them had sprouted. Days passed until one morning I saw a few tiny sprouts sticking out from each paper cup. Experiencing seeds under your care sprout for the very first time is an inexplicable experience Since then I have tried to save up seeds of almost every fruit or vegetable I could and tried sprouting them and it’s been as delightful every time.
If you aren’t a plant person or have never grown one, then add that to your resolution this new year and experience the joy.
Maybe next time you order pizza, just sprinkle some chili flakes between moist tissue papers or in some soil and if you’re lucky, some of them will magically sprout a few weeks later.