At the beginning of April I put some lettuce seed into a pot filled with potting soil. I’ve been doing this for a few years, after many years of seeding directly into the garden, and then not thinning adequately when the plants inevitably came up: fewer plants, more widely spaced, leads to better yields.
But you knew that.
Anyway, other pots and flats with other seeds started to produce plants –– leeks, tomatoes, beans, squash –– but I noticed not one of them was lettuce. That pot had vanished entirely.
Confession: I’m not much of a gardener. I know this for a fact, because we have friends and neighbours who are superb managers of their gardens. It’s one of the reasons why we’re heavily into rhododendrons, which, once you plant them, pretty much look after themselves. I suspect it’s why our excellent neighbour once observed, “You should have been a farmer”, almost certainly obliquely noting the piles of potentially-useful stuff and compost piles scattered in strategic places around the yard, where he would have tended immaculate grass.
Anyway. I understand my limitations, and that usually I would rather read yet another newspaper than tend to the vegetables.
I’m always amused by the people who, upon hearing that I was born in Holland, exclaim, “You must have inherited the Dutch gardening gene!” because little could be further from the truth. It’s true my maternal grandfather was descended from a long line of farmers in the Dutch province of Zeeland. But when it came time for him to make his way in the world he put that firmly behind him and joined the army. There he became a Physical Training instructor, which he subsequently exploited to become the Physical Training Instructor at the gymnasium (high school) both my parents attended. And my paternal grandfather, the one after whom I’m named, came from considerable money. He was modestly-successful as an artist and made a considerable career of writing: art criticism for a newspaper and a number of books on art and philosophy.
(I read Dutch the way a 7-year-old beginning reader reads Dutch, so I cannot tell you how good these are, but you can still google his name, and if you don’t get my dad or me, that’s him.)
I have always assumed my paternal grandfather’s family employed a gardener because they didn’t even do their own laundry or cooking, but I know for a fact that at least two of his relatives, who owned large estates in Rotterdam, had live-in gardeners. Because I met them.
Back to the lettuce.
When Sandy’s flowers started to grow in their little pods, I noticed some of them looked suspiciously like lettuce so I asked her. No, they were gazenias, because that’s what she’d planted, and, unlike me, she keeps track. She even planted a number in what was to be their summer home, a large decorative pot on our new stairs.
And then it became obvious that her gazenias were, in fact, my lettuce. She had obviously found a pot of unclaimed potting soil, conveniently close to her tray, and used that soil, just like anyone else would. (Did I mention that I don’t usually bother to label my vegetable starts?)
So that mystery has been solved. The lettuce has been reclaimed and planted. And, just for a little bonus, some of the lettuce plants were actually sharing a pod with a very small gazenia plant, so Sandy wasn’t altogether wrong!