Looking after other people’s seedlings, and that point where you ‘know what you’re doing’
Now, 17 odd years on and by the quirk of fate that comes from growing up in a small town, Mrs Blackman is my step-gran-in-law, and asking me to look after her tomato seedlings. If only I had known all those years ago that I’d be babysitting Mrs B’s seedlings, she might have just moved me to the front of the class, instead of making me stand in the corridor.
However, something far more significant is happening than crossing paths with old maths teachers in later life. Someone – a very wise, clued up and intelligent someone – is asking me to look after their seedlings.
Do I ‘Know What I’m Doing’?
Someone thinks I am capable of this important job. Like I might actually know what I’m doing.
I’ve never been trusted like this. I do sort of know what I’m doing. I grow things with reasonable success, but these are my own vegetables. I’ve never received confirmation that I might know what I’m doing.
This is a very odd feeling as well as a nice one. To be thought of as good at something is always agreeable, but truth be told, I’m only really coming to terms with vegetable growing myself. Then again, there is a confident boost to be had from another grower having enough faith in you to trust you with their precious seedlings.
Deciding at what stage you progressed from clueless beginner to knowing what you’re doing is also an interesting point. Growing in the garden, with my own greenhouse, I’m not relying on my mum to start seeds off so I reckon if I can get a decent crop this year I might well have made that step.
However, I’ll level with you. I’m still scared about these seedlings.
It’s one thing killing your own seedlings because most of the things you do are guesswork, but trying not to kill someone else’s? That’s pressure.
Oh yes, I forgot to say that these seedlings are being grown by Mrs Blackman, for her friend, who says she can’t ever get them to grow. So if I mess up, there’s a whole disappointment chain.
Adding to this stressful situation is not really having anywhere suitable to put the plants. My windowsills are full up and the greenhouse nowhere near warm enough for these infant seedlings.
For now, the seedlings are in my kitchen, on the side board next to our patio doors. They’ve been there a day now and seem comfortable. I’ll be keeping a hawk like eye on them for any complications.
As growers, we’re always facing little examinations of skill, experience and judgement and I always thought that veg growing tests would come in the form of things like combatting changing weather, new pests, poor soils, or finally getting that annually problematic crop to finally grow.
I never thought that the one I’d worry about most would be set by my old maths teacher!