01 May 2010

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Cotyledon!

Former biology teacher, Sister Philomena, is nice enough to move her computer and allow her desk space to be used as a mini nursery for our tomato seedlings. She's also thoughtful enough to share some wisdom with the "backyard biologists" who will be planting the seedlings in a few weeks when they're ready for the great outdoors. Just yesterday about 25 of the seeds poked their heads up through the soil ... only they don't have heads, they have cotyledons. Tomatoes, like many plants, have "baby leaves" which push off the seed casing and begin the photosynthesis process of nourishing the plant. These, however, are not "true leaves" because they are actually present in the seed prior to the germination process. The first set of "true leaves" will grow at the intersection of the two cotyledons (see below).

The seedling on the left still has the seed casing stuck on the end of the cotyledons. If it does not come off in a day (on its own) Sister Philomena's gentle touch may have to ease the casing off and free the cotyledons. The seedling on the right has already lost its seed casing and is ready to begin its journey to the garden!

Historians disagree about when tomatoes were first used as food in Europe. Some assert that they were popular in Spain by the early 16th century and in Britain by the late 16th or early 17th century. It is unlikely that St. Francis de Sales would have been exposed to tomato seedlings, but his penchant for botanical metaphors provides us with a wealth of spiritual insights.

"The root of a good name is to be found in virtue and honesty, which will always cause it to spring up afresh, however it may be assaulted. . . . Be sure that if [anyone] should succeed in rousing any evil impression against you, your good name will soon revive, and the razor of slander will strengthen your honor, just as the pruning-knife strengthens the vine and causes it to bring forth more abundant fruit."
St. Francis de Sales

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