Friday, April 22, 2011

Planting Tomato Seeds on Earth Day

On this Earth Day I am planting hope.

I am going to put the seeds that I have saved from last year’s cheery tomato plant into the soil. I went to Home Depot to get a cherry tomato seedling last year. The tomato plant yielded many juicy and yummy cheery tomatoes in the summer and into the fall. They were so good that I decided to save some seeds to see if I could grow them next spring.

I read in a Chinese newspaper that I can save tomato seeds in two ways. I can save some cheery tomatoes and freeze them in the freezer. I saved two and yesterday I defrosted one of them so that I would still have one left, just in case.

The other way is to take out some seeds from a tomato and dry them, so that they will be ready to be planted in the following season. I will experiment to see if seeds preserved by both methods would germinate.

I first tried to grow vegetables in the spring of 1996, after my family moved into a house we bought in Massachusetts. I have grown up in Hong Kong and there was hardly any land for growing.

So in 1996, we started a garden plot of 3 feet by 12 feet in our backyard and grew tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, green onions, and beans. I also grew a few basils and thymes, herbs I did not use often but gave very fragrant smell.

The tomatoes and lettuce were so fresh when we used them for our summer salads. The most amazing thing was watching the little seedlings grow and bear fruits. Gardening was something I have never tried before and it opened a new world for my family and me.

After growing for several seasons, my family stopped doing it because we were too busy and the summer months were hot. I had many other things to do in the summer: reading, writing, taking walks, and catching up with my life…whatever that was.

Last June, I taught a June course on God and Creation. Our class went on a field trip to see an organic garden at a monastery, about 45 miles north of Boston. A student of mine was in charge of this organic garden and he explained to us the relation between sustainable farming, food, and God’s providence in very concrete ways. For example, he showed how different plants grow symbiotically together in his garden.

After the June term, it was already late for the planting season. But my husband and I decided to start growing again!

We created a new garden plot of 5 feet by 22 feet. We divided it into 6 beds and grew tomatoes, red and green peppers, zucchini, and butternut squash. I was so glad to be able to grow Chinese bok choy from seeds I bought from Chinatown. Though I had only 8 or 9 not very healthy-looking bok choy plants, hardly enough for two meals, I bragged about my success in the fall.

So this year, I am observing the international Earth Day by doing something simple: plant some tomato seeds. This is a concrete way of bringing awareness to my busy life of the intimate connection I have with the environment.

As I watch the tomato seeds germinate and grow, I will learn not to take the foods I eat for granted. I thank all those who have grown the foods I will eat on this particular day and remember those who have very little to eat or have to go to bed hungry.