Forty little tomato seedlings are growing big on a sunny window ledge inside our home.  I planted these little darlings two weeks ago and they rewarded me by germinating four days later.  So far, sowing tomato seeds appears to be easier than sowing seeds into the minds of adult children.

When the weather is nice, I take my garden tray outside so the seedlings can grow strong with the Oklahoma wind and avoid the damping off disease so easily contracted without proper air circulation.  Outdoor visits also help them ‘harden off’ to avoid later transplant shock.

When raising children, we practiced something similar.   As readiness was shown, our kids were given greater outside-the-home freedoms and experiences.  This was my husband’s doing more than mine.  His philosophy was to grant our precious teens space to sow any wild oats while still under parental loving care. 

We expected blooper choices.  And we were not disappointed.  I remember reeling both girls back inside with a safety net — with affection, what we called a gilded cage.  Some children just need a little longer to mature, that’s all.  But in their own time and space and way, all four have grown strong inner constitutions to thrive in our lovely but sometimes dangerous world of pests.

If all goes well, I’ll set my first tomato transplants into the ground at month end– followed by another set in mid-April.  The first will be insulated with an outer shell of  black plastic pots (leftovers from last fall’s planting spree) filled with newspaper.  I’m told early spring plantings, properly insulated, will increase production and still survive frosty spring-time visits of winter temperatures – down to 25̊ degrees Fahrenheit.   

We transplanted our children from Texas to Oklahoma, in a similar way, by surrounding them with plenty of loving family.   The girls often took advantage of a home-cooked meal as they grew homesick for a familiar face or a taste of home.  The boys received some free meals as well — and help several times when a car battery died.   Today, except for missing the taste of great seafood, you’d think our children were all natives.

I’ve haven’t had such good experience in transplanting tomato varieties from Texas to Oklahoma.   My plantings from the last two years have died on the vine — either from spider mites or Fusarium wilt.   So this year I’m planting OSU recommended varieties for Oklahoma.  My seedlings are Big Beef Tomato –a disease resistant variety that has shown natural resistance to spider mites.   

My children have shown a natural resistance to tomatoes.  Perhaps I didn’t sow enough seed in that direction.