1. Assemble your tools.

2. Do not put glove on the wrong hand.

3. Optional: Enlist a friend!

4. Take account of your own personal and situational weaknesses. Are you lazy? Not a morning person? Busy on weekends? A resident of San Francisco, where there is no sun? If you answered yes to all of the above, the Cosmo Candy Stripe might be the plant for you. If you can get past the girly-drink sound of its name, the instructions are very appealing: "The Cosmo Candy Stripe does best when neglected!"

5. Ready, set, begin! Reading the directions on the back of your seed packet is a good thing to do here. For instance: should seeds be planted a quarter-inch deep or scattered across the top of the soil? Can you put them in a pot, or do they need to be planted in a garden? If so, and your garden is as weedy as mine, you might be in trouble.

6. After planting, find a way to figure out which seeds are which. You could tape a post-it to the pot or come up with helpful mnemonic devices.

7. Admire your handiwork. Sending photos to far-flung family members is one way to say, "You don't have to worry about me. I am a mature, responsible adult. I plant!"

8. Disregard above advice. I am only a beginner.

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