This weekend I am planting seeds, which for a gardener, is kind of like the first game of pre-season for baseball fans. The effort doesn’t really count towards the fruits of the season (after all, half the prospects Â in front of you will be tossed from the team, given away or traded before you even get them in the field — not to mention you still have a good 2 months before you get to see any real play), but the winter has been long and it is comforting and exciting to get some kind of action in.
But in sorting through my seed collection, inventorying the plethora of seeds I own and which ones will make the cut this year, I came to contemplate the wonder that is a seed.
Many people think of it as a baby plant, but in fact it is really a plant womb. And an incredible one at that. Much like chicken eggs, it contains everything that a baby plant might need to survive until it can fend for itself. But unlike a chicken egg, seeds can stay viable for years, centuries, millennia even. Â Even the seeds that you bought 4 years ago when you went on the $100 “got to have all the seeds despite the fact that I don’t have room for all these plantsâ€ seed buying binge that are now shoved in the back of the garage still have a pretty good chance of still growing a perfectly healthy plant. Hint: If you find a 4 year old chicken egg in the back of your fridge and you crack it open to see if it is still viable, you had better be bringing a biohazard unit with you.
Seeds can be small. The smallest seeds in the world weigh less than 1/35,000,000th of an ounce, can’t be seen by the naked eye and comes from epiphytic orchids. Needless to say, the epiphytic orchid farming industry probably does not take place in someone’s kitchen with cups filled with dirt and tweezers.
The largest seed in the world is from the double coconut palm and weighs 55 lbs. Double coconut palm farmers apparently are sought out as husbands in areas that they grow because they are also well known for their ability to move heavy objects and open jars.
The use of seeds to further a plant species is a biological adaptation that is over 385 million years old. The first known plant to produce seeds was Elkinsia polymorpha. It developed during the Late Devonian period. And just to make sure we humans feel pretty pathetic, this means that plants have been making seeds since before there was Starbucks, humans, mammals and even dinosaurs.
So my little league team of seeds has an evolutionary connection to an All Star cast. Really, I will be happy if they just sprout. But, until the field of play is thrown open, I can dream about a World Series season out in my garden.