The miracle of growing things from seed

Jerry Apps
Planting the first tomato seeds reminds us that spring  has arrived.

The vegetable garden season at Roshara has officially begun. The tomato seeds are planted and they are up and growing. It’s hard to believe that these fragile little plants, only an inch or so tall, will, by mid-summer, be four feet tall and taller. In my mind, as we plant the seeds, I see lush, big red, juicy tomatoes with a taste so much more special than the store-bought tomatoes. Many of these. Store-bought tomatoes have traveled across the country to be in our grocery stores.

Natasha, my daughter-in-law and head Roshara gardener, and I planted tomato seeds a couple of weeks ago. Natasha commented on how tiny some of the tomato seeds were, some of them mere little brown specks. And how so much life could be stored in such a little package. Such is one of the miracles of growing things from seed.

My mother, head gardener when I was growing up, always planted tomato seeds on St. Patrick’s Day. She said that was a green day and the right time to start seeds. She had no grow lights—we had no electricity—so she set the seed pots in a south-facing window in the kitchen. And they flourished, year after year as I remember.

I have a grow light, and it helps things along without doubt, especially on the many cloudy days of April. Once the little tomato plants are a bit taller, we will transplant them to larger pots, and weather permitting, we will put them outside to “harden them in” before setting them out in our Roshara garden by late May.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Planting the first tomato seeds reminds us that spring  has arrived.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to