Planting Seed Is The Opposite Of A Funeral


Birth is not the opposite of death. It is the first step toward it.

Wow, I’m flirting with depressing myself here by digging down in the weeds of the soul on a Sunday morning. But such was my thinking, like a southbound ride on a downhill train to Sadville after reading a line in a poem written by Rudy Fransisco

I am learning that the difference between
a garden and a graveyard is only what
you choose to put in the ground.

Also, I’m blessed to be married to a midwife so I have the occasion to marvel at the whole miracle of birth thing more often than the average Lorax. When I listen to each story which follows So how was your day honey?, a part of my mind always hums a prayer for our brand newest member of the human family. How will it be for them after day one? Are we handing them the best of worlds to our ability? Is today the good old days for them as some day they will only wish for the days when their mommy and daddy were around? Will they succeed, have children, and live a life that makes the world richer? Will they suffer by our generation’s failures? It’s a lot to ponder for a little 8 pound package. But no matter how I fast forward the future, it always ends in a funeral. Folks, our train has arrived.

But there’s no depressing destination when planting a seed. Oh sure, every gardener knows the ups and downs and mistakes that will happen, but every plant in the garden is another beautiful manifestation of the feeling of hope that you need to be alive.

Now I like to be sad as much as anyone but I need to be in Happytown by dinner, so I’m just going to climb aboard on the northbound line of the seed planting train…

So let’s talk planting seed. But first, in case you haven’t heard, growing peyote from seed, or otherwise, is a known criminal offense in many parts of the world (with exceptions). Oh I know, that’s whacked, but I’m not going to get all derailed here after talking about it so much already. But just be advised, these planting discussions are only for informational, conservational, and religious purposes. So if part of your religion requires information for peyote conservation well, climb aboard.

Seriously though, don’t break some ridiculous law just because you’re curious about peyote. If that is the case, grow some Star Cactus (Astrophytum asterias.) It grows in Texas along with the medicine, but is even more endangered. And it’s legal and it’s easy to buy seeds of. Ariocarpus is another good choice. Unusual and interesting, this genus of cacti also grows in the same threatened habitat. And like the Star Cactus, it is a regular victim of poaching.

Astrophytum asterias
Ariocarpus fissuratus

The cultivation advice I am giving here applies to all these species and having more of all of them in the world is a good thing. And planting them helps alleviate apathy in the face of relentless mortality. It’s almost like I plant seed as an act that both defies and acknowledges my own short lifespan. It’s not admitting futility and saying, well I should plant this anyway. It is a recognition of, I definitely need to do this with whatever time is mine! Remember, if you don’t give an f, futility becomes utility!

Oh Creator of all beings, help us to respect and care for your Creation by your guidance. Our habits may lean toward convenience and expectation in accepting the blessings you provide. Please help us gain awareness of our role, to keep and to cherish your gifts in the working of our hands for your design.

Planting seeds is a devotional act focusing our intentions into a deeper understanding of the generational nature of the medicine’s life cycle. With todays seeds we are planting for our children’s tomorrows.

Freshly gathered fruits.

Gathering Seeds: A short video demonstrating seed harvesting:

Soil: The most common question people ask the Lorax is, what type of soil should I grow my medicine in? Here is a link to a soil recipe using commonly available ingredients. When starting seeds I screen this mix to make it finer, at least for the top layer where the seeds will germinate. Also for seeds, to this basic mix I add fine vermiculite, up to a third of total.

Watering: A dedicated spray bottle reserved for watering your seedlings is recommended. Using water spouts or faucets tends to disrupt the soil structure unnecessarily. Plants in natural habitat rely on morning dew and spraying simulates those conditions.

Location: Recommended habitat area is a south facing location, especially a windowsill which has fairly bright but indirect light throughout the day. Choose a spot in your home where Aloe vera thrives, with neither direct sun or shade. Young seedlings will sunburn easily if moved to a brighter location than they’re accustomed to, especially in summer.

Typical windowsill seedling setup. Baby saguaros at left.

Planting Instructions: Use a fairly shallow container with small drain holes. Fill with with soil mix. Saturate soil in tray with water just enough to show drainage through holes in bottom. Removing the sprayer top from bottle and dribbling water through your fingers is quicker than spraying for this first watering. The surface of the soil should be level before planting.

Sprinkle seeds evenly across soil surface. There’s no need to try and separate each seed by distance. Closely spaced seedlings tend to grow even better than single ones. A general scattering of the seeds across surface is all that is needed.

Topping: Next, sprinkle a light topping evenly across the seeds and soil. I prefer to use clear, crushed quartz, feldspar, or really any clean stone with the consistency of slightly chunky sand. This is often sold in craft stores as “therapy sand.” This layer is sprinkled very thinly over the top and helps stabilize young seedlings while also providing a mulch-like moisture retention for the surface. However, using a similarly lightly sprinkled topping of your seedling soil is perfectly sufficient as well. The seeds don’t necessarily want to be buried, just not exposed on all sides.

Moisten with a very light spray after applying topping. Slightly exposed seeds should be seen. Completely exposed seeds will still germinate, but it’s recommended to gently push them into soil or use a little extra sprinkle of topping. They don’t need to be completely covered, but also it’s recommended to minimize the amount of seeds completely exposed on the surface. After lightly spraying, snuggly place a clear cover over container. You should lift the cover and inspect the progress every few days. A light spraying can be given every 3 or 4 days until the majority of sprouting is completed (approximately 1 to 2 weeks).

Seedlings germinating with clear sand mulch.

Ongoing Care: Once seeds have sprouted, the container top should be lifted every few days for air exchange and inspection. In most cases and during warm weather, spraying once weekly should be sufficient. In the shorter and less warm (usually even indoors) days of winter, spraying once every two weeks is a more appropriate schedule. Keep an eye out for algae or mold growth. Both are indicators of overwatering. Lid should be kept slightly ajar and watering reduced to minimize these unwanted growths. Green colored algae is less of a problem than mold which can quickly damage or kill young seedlings.

After 2 to 3 months your seedlings should be established enough to leave the lid slightly askew for ventilation. Spraying should continue every week to ten days in summer and allowed to dry slightly in winter months with lower hours of light. If you are giving supplemental winter light, watering may continue on the summer schedule.

At the end of the first year to year and a half of growth, seedlings will be ready for gently uprooting and transplanting into new containers. Upcoming posts will discuss the how and why of transplanting medicine.

Until then, remember, life is like planting a medicine garden. You need to have faith, patience, and reverence to see it bloom.

Seedlings ready for first transplant.

Three year old seedlings.

Click below for next post

The I Thing

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