Mid-Summer Caretaker and the Mighty Seed

By the calendar, it’s mid-summer here in California. Our growing season is longer than most, given our mild climate and rich, agricultural soil. That said, pumpkins and sunflowers adhere to their own cycle and that cycle is coming to an end.

pumpkin progression july 2014

July growth

fading pumpkin vines

Fading vines as all the energy now goes to the fruit

Like many things in life, the anticipation often outranks the reward at the end. It’s the growing that brings so much pleasure. It’s also humbling to realize that much of what’s happening outside these four walls has nothing to do with me.  Nature knows what she’s doing.  While a bit of help from water, fertilizer and nutrient-rich soil is a must, once provided she can take it from there.

sunflowers setting seed

Sunflowers bowing from the weight of the seeds

water on a sunflower

A bit of water pools on the underside of a sunflower

I tend the garden anyway, battling drought conditions, air pollution, nasty bugs and the adorable menace, the western gray squirrel. I’m a caretaker more than anything else.

Squash bug hide and seek

Squash bug hide and seek (we’re still here)

Once you’ve gardened, it’s impossible to feel the same way about the fruits and vegetables that make it to your table.  Something as tiny and unassuming as a seed has all the DNA it needs to know when and where it should grow and for how long.  Helpers, in the form of pollinating bees or seed-scattering birds, also play a role.  I’ve gardened my entire life and I’m still in awe when a seed cracks the earth and a leafy green sprout appears.

According to Boundless Biology:

Seed plants are cultivated for their beauty and smells, as well as their importance in the development of medicines. Plants are also the foundation of human diets across the world . Many societies eat, almost exclusively, vegetarian fare and depend solely on seed plants for their nutritional needs. A few crops (rice, wheat, and potatoes) dominate the agricultural landscape. Many crops were developed during the agricultural revolution when human societies made the transition from nomadic hunter–gatherers to horticulture and agriculture. Cereals, rich in carbohydrates, provide the staple of many human diets. In addition, beans and nuts supply proteins. Fats are derived from crushed seeds, as is the case for peanut and rapeseed (canola) oils, or fruits such as olives.

We live in an amazing world.