This year, I planted broccoli in my usual way. Which is to say, I churned up enough ground to disturb deeply buried archaeological sites (and likely nicked a septic system in the process) and chopped the dirt until I was tired of doing it. And then scattered seeds roughly in a row, with very little attention being paid to spacing or exact placement.
And then I sat back to watch it grow.
My wife, who understands both plants (and me) better than I do, has devoted a few minutes each day to watering and fertilizing the 'row'.
And the broccoli has started to emerge. (Insert odd gleeful dance here).
Predictably, however, the seeds were spread in 'rows' that more resembled 'bunches' or 'clumps'. And I have seen this before, and know what comes next.
I have to try and figure out which of the individuals are the most likely to give me good broccoli. And then pull out all the rest.
This is a hard thing for me. I want to see all of my seedlings thrive. But without pruning, without thinning the herd, all of them end up puny, starved, or dead. Removing the competition (whether it is weedy competition or competition among healthy seedlings) is the only way to allow the final product - the 'keepers' - to do well.
So I have to go back to my broccoli row today and decide which broccoli is likely to give me good vegetables. Should I keep the tallest, or will it just get leggy? Should I keep the runts, with the idea that they will be small and tender?
How do I thin the herd?
Meanwhile, here are the things I am currently working on:
-Article proposal on fireflies
-Article proposal on man-cave barbershops
-1-hour lecture preparation on Shroud of Turin (completed)
-Lecture prep for the fall's offering - a college class on "Personalities of the Bible"
-Build a "bespoke archaeology" business
-Tapping sycamore trees for a feasibility study
-Tapping pecan trees for a feasibility study
-Growing a garden with only native american domesticates
-Planning a website for selling prehistoric 'dice' made from lamb bones
-Planting indigo to make natural dyes for my harvested cotton
-Working on an album concept for a male a capella remake of boy bands music
-Planning a honey extraction business
-Editing notes from a Sunday school class for publication (and thinking about the second and third one)
-Teaching myself the banjo
-Outlining a novel on the placement of a man in Witness Protection in a government job in the Corps of Engineers (burro-cratic hilarity ensues!)
-Writing a short story from the perspective of a Loki character
-Building a furnace for smelting aluminum - to make those cool ant-hill casts
-Building a furnace for smelting aluminum - to make those as-yet unknown crawfish-burrow casts
-Turn crawfish and anthill casts into jewelry
-Using the furnace to smith blades from scrap iron (scrap iron snagged from Corps site leftovers)
-Compete in Toastmasters competition
-Build a silver smithing business (making a few coin rings started it)
It comes as no surprise, I suppose, that I have a difficult time separating out the 'keepers' in my garden. I can't decide what are keepers in my own to-do list. I want to see all of my seedling projects thrive.
How do you prioritize when you are endlessly fascinated by everything?
I am awe inspired by people who can focus. People who can look at a bonsai tree, and quietly meditate while pruning just the right twigs to create the beauty they want to see. (Note to self, buy book on bonsai meditation, add item to my to to-do list). People who carry their calmness with them, instead of the 'satiable curtiosity of a five-year old (Note to self - time to re-read the Just-So Stories, to make sure I have that quote spelled right).
Maybe I'll just clear out half of that broccoli when I get home. Leave the other half for next week.