growing

When I lived in Irvine, I had a shallow 5-gallon plastic tub on our apartment balcony. It had once held a turtle habitat, maybe some old papers before that. After the turtle outgrew the tub, I filled it with a few inches of potting soil I’d gotten from my parents. I had fantasies of growing a wild herb garden in it.

I bought seedlings from Trader Joe’s and planted them in it. Somehow, I always managed to kill Italian parsley. The basil did alright for a while, even flowering, but turned brown after it flowered in late summer. I was disappointed until I realized that seeds had fallen from the old plant and sprouted up in the surrounding soil. Life!

For fun, I took some cherry tomatoes and squirted out their juicy insides into the container. Could it be so easy? I kept the small tub watered and mostly forgot about them.

Sure enough, two or three weeks later, I had tiny tomato plants sprouting up. Life! Again!

I buckled my seat belt and started the car. My aunt’s more-salt-than-pepper head bent over a small bundle in her hand as she sat in my passenger seat. In the palm of her hand was a muslin handkerchief with a few dry flower bulbs in it.

“Is that how you grow those?” I asked, surprised that those small, papery brown bundles could turn into a bush like the ones blooming wildly all over my parents’ front yard.

The lines on the side of her face crinkled deeply as she smiled and said in Khmer, “I don’t know, but I’m going to plant them just for fun. See what happens.”

I laughed with her as I pulled the car away from the curb to take her home.

It’s like magic– seeing the first tiny leaves of some plant poking out of the dirt. Thinking of the tomatoes and basil in Irvine, my aunt with her dry flower bulbs, I’m amazed at how easy growing things can be. How it doesn’t need to be a stressful affair. Those flower bulbs might not give my aunt flowers, but what’s the harm, really?

Either it grows, or it doesn’t. A little water, a little time. Why not try? The worst that can happen is, really, nothing.

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