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“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” - Henry David Thoreau

Say goodbye to winter colds, and hello to spring fever! Warmer temperatures and longer days are headed our way, which means it’s time to start growing gardens, beginning of course with planting seeds.

I find it awe-inspiring to hold these tiny seeds in hand, knowing they will sprout, grow and transform into juicy tomatoes and sweet watermelons, nutritious leaves of kale and Swiss chard, colorful, fragrant flowers, even towering and majestic trees.

Collage of onion seedlings
To get a start on the growing season Liz plants her onion seeds and places them near a south-facing window in her home.

Seeds store everything that’s needed for a plant to begin its growth, and amazingly they are both the beginning and end of the plant’s life—a cycle that has nourished and sustained humans throughout history. Seeds were so important in ancient times that they were used as currency. For example, the cacao bean was a form of currency for the Aztecs, and carob seeds were used to measure gold (as they were thought to be of uniform weight), which gave us the word “carat.”

At Heifer Farm, the first seeds we plant are onions. Belonging to the family of alliums, we get the onions started early because they require a long growing season with varying length of daylight that encourages the plants to form bulbs.

A sunny, south-facing window serves as our greenhouse this time of year. Flats are filled with moistened potting soil, and we use a handmade dibble to create the holes for the seeds. The dibble speeds up the process since it can make 180 holes at a time. 

We drop one seed into a hole, pinch the soil to cover it and wa-la! We’ve taken the first step toward growing onions that will eventually be sliced and diced to create aromatic, flavorful dishes in the Heifer Farm kitchen.

It’s no wonder that phrases like “seeds of change” or “plant a seed” describe seeds as metaphoric catalysts of ideas and growth. Seeds are symbols of potential, and spring is filled to the brim with this excitement. Across the globe, farmers, families and community gardeners are getting together to plant seeds—needless to say—I’m prepared to expect wonders!

Photos and story provided by Liz Joseph, Garden and Education Coordinator, Heifer USA


Liz Joseph

Liz Joseph works at Heifer Farm in Rutland, Mass., managing the organic gardens, beekeeping and maple sugaring. Known as Liz Jo around the farmyard, she enjoys all things farming as well as learning new skills, cooking (and eating!), writing and laughing.