Miracle Grow

Monday, October 10th, 2005

I’ve managed to grow something I planted myself! Okay, it was just an avocado pit, something that almost any schoolkid will have gotten to sprout in a glass of water at some point or another. But I’ve never planted anything before, and while my mom can grow stuff in the bone-dry desert, and Jeremy’s mom can take the garnish off a plate in a restaurant and get it to sprout in her kitchen, and my upstairs neighbor can probably just look at a plant and get it to grow by sheer force of will alone, I - well, I’ve got pretty black thumbs.

Having said that, maybe I’ve never really given myself the opportunity to try growing anything. My interaction with flora generally consists of me buying a fully grown basil plant, picking it bare for pesto, trying vainly to keep the naked, withered thing alive for a few days more, and finally chucking it into the bin when it’s beyond salvation. It’s only in the past year that I’ve learned that overwatering is as bad as underwatering. That single tip has radically extended the life of my few potted herbs. Bolstered by minor successes on the herb front, I got the courage a few months ago to buy a little ficus for the flat. It, too, seems to be doing okay so far (I’m sure the fact that I talk to it and gently stroke its leaves helps immensely).

I really wasn’t convinced that the avocado thing would work, however. The first one I tried just got moldy and gross, so I wound up throwing it out after about a week. I planted a second one, and then a while later I stuck a third one in with the second. Again, the third one went moldy, so I took it out of the pot, and since the second one had been in there for weeks and hadn’t done anything of note, I plucked it out, too - only to see that the tiniest, palest green root had begun to poke out of the bottom of it. I felt terrible for having yanked it out of the soil so unceremoniously, so I gently tucked it back into the pot, apologizing profusely to the poor thing and praying that I hadn’t just killed it through shock.

Weeks passed. Nothing happened.

I was convinced that it was dead, but I left it in the pot anyway, forcing myself to be patient.

More weeks passed.

Then one day I noticed that a crack had opened up down one side of the avocado pit. This was an exciting development, but it was even more exciting the next evening when I saw that the crack had spread to the other side of the pit as well. And then, on the following evening, the best sign of all: deep inside the cleft in the pit, there was a small, purplish sprout pushing its way up through the seed and into the light. It was alive! I know it sounds silly - I mean, it’s just an avocado pit on a windowsill - but I went to bed that night with a lovely, cozy feeling, thinking about time-lapse photographs of sprouting plants and imagining nature working its everyday wonders in my own kitchen.

The plant-to-be has been growing by leaps and bounds since then. Now I’ve got a strange, alien-looking finger poking up out of a strange, alien-looking seed pod - which, to be honest, is a bit freaky. But it’s very encouraging at the same time. My thumbs might not be so black after all.

Sprouting avocado pit

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