The Seeds You Plant


Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson.

We’re fast coming up on a year of quarantine.  My husband and I have been vigilant about taking precautions. I’ve made masks for family and friends and always wear mine when I’m out of the house and among people—which I try to avoid. We’ve cooked and eaten good food, tried to exercise every day, and tried—but not always managed—to get a good night’s sleep.

But, you know—and you do—isolation is getting old. Right? Very old. I am beyond lucky to be isolating with the man I love, but both of us are always looking for new things to do. Some of my old favorites still entertain me. I’m reading more, sewing more, and cooking a lot more. I’m slowly working on an anthology with novellas about women from my Shenandoah Album novels. We bought a state  park pass and are using it frequently for long walks. I’m spending  untold hours on websites trying to get a vaccine appointment in my own or nearby counties—so far unsuccessfully. That’s become a hobby in itself.

It was time, though, for something new. So this week Proman and I bought a Greenstalk planter. Greenstalk planters are vertical planters, with 30 deep pockets distributed over 5 levels. Each pocket holds one larger plant—think tomatoes, beans, eggplant, beans—or three smaller ones like carrots, lettuce, chard. We will water from the top and the water is then distributed into each pocket through a special irrigation system.

Greenstalk isn’t the only vertical planter available. We wanted a Garden Tower, but the most ingenious part of that system, earthworms that fertilize from compost you feed them, made it impossible. We travel north in the summer and no one would be here to feed the worms, which I would quickly regard as pets. So Greenstalk was our best choice.

What is it about growing anything that’s so appealing? We live in a housing community that maintains our yards. The rules also prohibit growing anything that would produce food outside our lanai. Still, inside our lanai we have a Meyer lemon tree, various potted herbs and flowers, and three “City Pickers” filled with tomatoes, chard, bok choy, lettuce and eggplant. I would fill the swimming pool with compost for a real garden, but my life  partner has a problem with that.

I’ll immediately go on record. Growing in containers can be iffy. I harvested four lemons from my tree, beautiful and juicy but FOUR. So far, likely because of unseasonably cool nights, the City Pickers have produced only two small eggplants and a couple of handfuls of tomatoes. We grew enough bok choy for one meal, the  lettuce is spindly and odd, and the chard will not feed a family of leprechauns.

Of course, that didn’t stop us from buying the Greenstalk to supplement. Last Wednesday, in preparation for its arrival, we went to the nursery to buy the 5 cubic feet of good organic soil we needed and wowza! Between the soil, the earthworm castings, the organic liquid fertilizer and a few seeds (I’d already ordered $40+ by mail) the total was  mind blowing.

No, we aren’t gardening to save money. Absolutely not.

So why did we buy the new planter? Not because of record successes with the ones we already have. Not because food isn’t readily available locally. Not because we want to show our  organic gardener chops.

We bought it because planting seeds and watching them sprout, grow strong and tall, and at last, produce is really what life’s all about.

We plant seeds everywhere, everyday. Most often we don’t know what we’ll reap or when, but we plant in good faith. We raise children, tackle difficult jobs, join committees, churches and clubs, make friends and all the time we’re dropping seeds in whatever ground we have, perhaps for someone else to enjoy the results in a year or a decade.

The Greenstalk, though? Planting seeds in 30 pockets and watching them sprout? That’s the reminder I need right now. Because good things happen when we plant and wait, even if we’re impatient to see results. After all I won’t get a tomato from the Greenstalk for months, but I’ll know they’re on their way.

As our crop progresses I’ll take you on a photo journey here, so you can share in our harvest.

I hope your patience is rewarded soon, that all the seeds you’ve helped to plant during these difficult months flower and thrive, and that soon, all of us will be outside in the sunshine.




  1. DELORES on February 3, 2021 at 8:00 am

    I wish you success! Last year I didn’t think I would have flowers in some beds, as I didn’t want to go to the nurseries. My son did go and got a few things for me, but what a surprise, as summer progressed, and I saw seedlings sprouting up from flowers planted the year before. It took awhile, but eventually I had lots of color.

  2. Denise Almazar on February 3, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Wonderful! I’m looking forward to seeing your plants blossom! The pandemic has been a challenge for so many of us. I wish I could plant real seeds, but not it’s not the season for that yet here. We are hoping to plant flowers around our deck that discourage mosquito’s. Our neighbors are going to do the same. We’ll see if it works! As far as planting seeds around me, I have been writing letters. It’s nice to get letters and we get so few lately. People just don’t write like they used to. I send little crafts to my Granddaughter in the mail. She enjoys getting the package and getting to do a little project brings her joy. I guess we can all find ways to plant seeds, no matter what the season!

  3. Lynn Ross on February 13, 2021 at 7:45 pm

    Emilie, I so enjoyed reading your comments on planting seeds. It is a wonderful metaphor of life in general. I had never thought of planting seeds in quite that way. You continue to enrich my life. I’m looking forward to the pictures you will be showing us.

Leave a Comment