Once Steve led me across the parking lot to Paul’s garden supply annex, he disappeared into the arched white tent that housed tray after tray of plants. It turned out Paul’s mostly sells flowers, but in the front left corner of the shelter, lined up in neat rows, were dozens of vegetable and fruit seedlings.
“Definitely peppers,” Steve said, grabbing a plastic seedling container. “Peppers are fun to grow.”
I nodded. “Yellow peppers.” A container tagged “Golden Summer had hypnotized me.
“Sure,” I said. “Although then we’ll have a ton of them, and everyone I know who has had one of those plants has had trouble using them.”
“Zucchini,” he said, but I had already lifted a container of Aristocrat Zucchini out of one of the trays.
Steve grabbed another Golden Summer yellow pepper seedling, while I located a Marketmore Cucumber seedling. We nixed Brussels sprouts, cabbage, muskmelon and watermelon, but chose a small tray featuring three Classic eggplant seedlings. “You like eggplant, don’t you?” Steve said.
I nodded emphatically.
“They’re easy to grow,” he said, and that was all I needed to hear.
I wandered out to the herb and perennial display. Much of what was there looked like it was in desperate need of a drink, but I managed to locate a leek plant that interested me. I selected an Italian parsley seedling, held it in my hand for awhile, and then put it back, afraid that it was already too sparse to risk taking home. The edges of its leaves were yellowing and frail, and I knew that, if we had it all summer, I’d use plenty of it. I’d rather start with good-looking stock, even if it feels a little shallow to reject a plant just based on looks.
“Do we need more tomatoes?” Steve called from inside the shelter.
I wandered back in to where he stood, hovering over the seedlings we’d selected. “We already have three cherry tomato plants,” I said.
“We need some big tomatoes,” he said. He selected a container of the Big Beef variety.
I leaned down and picked up a Jet Star tomato seedling, mostly because the name is cool. You may have regular old tomatoes growing in your garden, but I have Jet Stars growing in mine.
Before we knew it, we had enough seedlings to practically fill a whole tray. We carried them in, and paid for them, a set of wooden stakes, and a roll of nylon webbing that Steve convinced me could serve as a fence to keep out the rabbits. We told the checkout clerk that we wanted seven 40-pound bags of peat and a matching set of 40-pound bags of topsoil. A helpful Paul’s associate loaded the peat and dirt in our car, and we headed home.