As I See It: Catherine Drea’s fortnightly column as published in the Waterford News & Star
HAVE you ever watched something grow? Do you even have an early memory of handling a seed? In primary school there used to be a project where you stuffed beans down between layers of blotting paper in a clear glass jar. Over a few weeks you could watch a bean shoot grow and see the hairy white roots take up water, while the top part of the plant rose up over the jar as green leaves appeared. (Note: If you know what blotting paper is you probably did this too)
I guess what they had in mind was to fascinate children with the idea of growing. I wonder how many of you have planted a seed since then? It never loses its magic. I believe that if each of us planted a seed or tended a tiny sapling, we would get back in touch with how much we care about the natural world and do something more about the impending doom of climate change.
Sorry lads, I hate to even mention climate change, we have enough to contend with at the moment. But there may be a connection between this pandemic and the future of our environment. This is what came to me when I began to tend my garden with much more attention this year.
‘One seed in my hand today can become a plant that will give apples for generations’
Having time to be outside more will change how we see our outside spaces. It was always so in other countries. In Berlin the streets are lined with fruit bushes and vegetables, in New York, the Highline, a reclaimed railway line, is a city garden enjoyed by all. Waterford will now join in by creating more and more outdoor spaces to eat and drink in. But what kind of outdoor spaces?
We need to immediately plant more trees, herbs, wildflowers, and fruit and vegetables all over the county. Outdoor spaces should be lush and green with nature. Birds will come and charm us. Trees will give shade if it’s too hot and colour throughout the seasons.
So with all this in mind, I’m doing my bit by holding seeds in the palm of my hand, putting them into the soil and watching them grow.
I wasn’t blessed with green fingers so I limit what I grow to trees, herbs and plants helpful to the pollinators. But this year, courtesy of the local library, I have just received a GIY kit to grow a few vegetables so I am all set for tomatoes, assorted greens and peas.
Holding seeds in my hand, I can’t believe how tiny they are. How can one seed bring about the miracle of a tree that could grow for hundreds of years. One seed in my hand today can become a plant that will give apples for generations. Trees that were planted 30 years ago and are now big enough to climb up to the top and see the view.
Over the years I’ve grown a few small patches of vegetables, but was only successful with plants that needed absolutely zero attention. For the first time in a long time this year I have ample time to nurture and tend things. One of the effects of lockdown had me on my knees weeding throughout the winter. Mind you, I was weeding while muttering obscenities about Covid under my breath!
I’m gone all Mammy Bear about my seedlings and have even watered a few green shoots during the unseasonal dry spell. Himself has done a ton of paving and like myself has found time to enjoy being out of doors and seeing the results of a bit of minding. He loves trees and has planted every single one on this couple of wild acres. As the land is a mixture of bog and rock, willows thrive without any help. Over the years many of them have self seeded and grown in the places where they are happiest.
I’m no gardener and because of extreme laziness, I love plants that thrive without help. These are obviously the right ones for this spot. Isn’t it the same with all of us? Best to leave us each to shine in our own way and do the things we enjoy most and are therefore good at. So if something has died or failed to shine, I just let it go. I rarely ever buy plants now as I have rediscovered the wonder of seeds.
If we grow more, we clean up the environment and enhance the beauty of outdoor spaces. If we grow more we learn more about our world and the importance of nature to our own wellbeing and health. If nature thrives, so do we. We are part of her after all. Everything is connected.
Plant a seed and watch it grow, It will open your eyes and keep the pandemic blues at bay.