Just about anyone who came up through the U.S. public school system in the late ’60s to ’70s can relate to green bean seeds in Dixie cups, right? That little science experiment was the start of my lifelong passion for green and growing things.
My first solo attempt at gardening was when I was about 8 years old. I cleared a little patch of dirt and planted two small rows of popcorn kernels in the unkempt side yard on the south side of my parents’ suburban Chicago home. (Even back then I must have had some instinct about which side of the house was best for growing stuff.)
I took such good care of those little seeds. I watered and weeded and waited…and waited…and waited. I remember my excitement when I came home from summer camp that August, ’cause my waist-high corn plants were now taller than I was! And they had tassels and little ears forming on each stalk – just like the corn I’d seen in the fields all over the rural Midwest! I couldn’t wait to try the fruits of my labor, as it were.
What I didn’t know at the time was that popcorn seeds do not grow up to be sweet corn. I almost broke a tooth on that first raw bite.
Although disappointed that all my hard work did not produce the results I expected, the popcorn experiment did not keep me from pursuing my love for gardening. I guess it’s in my blood.