I don’t remember what motivated me to start growing 150 pansies from seed. Oh, wait, yes, I do. Several months ago, as the summer temps were just beginning to heat up, I saw a packet of pansy seeds on clearance at Walgreens for, like, 30 cents. I bought them and, for some strange reason, stuck them in the console of my car, where they cooked for a good 6 months. Then it got to be August and I started thinking, hey, it might be nice to have some flowers in the front yard this winter. Especially since I have had zero success getting anything to flourish in the weird raised beds underneath the trees in the front yard. But I remember they had pansies growing under them when we bought the place in 2012.

So pansies it would be. But the cheapo packet I had only had about 20 seeds in it, and I was pretty sure they were no good anyway, seeing as how they’d spent the summer suffocating. So I started looking into ordering some online, and before I knew it, I had 100 more seeds, including some nice fall-ish colored ones, some fancy ones, and even some black ones, because hey, who doesn’t want black flowers in their front yard? Even though I’ll probably regret it when Halloween is over.

But the intricacies of growing pansies caused me quite a bit of trouble. When I was a kid, “growing from seed” meant placing some dirt in a styrofoam cup from the snow cone stand, placing a seed inside, and setting it in a sunny window until it sprouted. But when you’re talking about growing pansies, things aren’t quite so simple. For one thing, they are as fussy as hell – especially in the heat. So this meant germinating the seeds indoors, in an AC-controlled environment. They also like it very, very dark before they will germinate. So this meant placing them in boxes and shopping bags, and covering them with blankets.

But the fussiness has paid off. I’m about 12 days into my project, and things are growing. Sort of. I’ve got about 25 seeds that have poked their heads above the dirt. Which leads to another reason pansies are fussy – as soon as they sprout, you have to go QUICK QUICK QUICK and get them under some lights. But outdoor sunshine won’t do, because it’s too hot. So I had to devise some way of getting light on them. I’m unwilling to spend the $500 it would cost to have a really cool multilevel light system, so I had to make do with a $15 shop light, a couple of fluorescent lights, and a chain attached to the clothes bar in the guest bedroom closet. See?

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You will notice that I have built makeshift pots out of newspaper for some plants and used empty yogurt cups for others. I’m cheap, what can I say?

So now, we wait. I have dreams of a front yard bed that looks something like this:


But more than likely, it’ll probably be closer to this:



As long as they’re not dead, I’ll call it a win.

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