Parable of the Hibiscus Seed

Parable of the Hibiscus Seed

I am what many would consider an avid gardener. I have been at it for over 50 years. I started mowing yards when I was about 12, worked for City of Dallas Park Department during the summers in high school, and I have owned a plant nursery, or maybe it owned me. I worked my way through college and seminary doing landscaping. All the while making cuttings, collecting unusual plants by division and over the last several years collecting seeds from not so common plants in our area.

I received a packet of 10 seeds of perennial hibiscus as a bonus when I ordered some coleus seeds online a couple of years ago. I had never grown hibiscus before so I planted the seeds and got three viable plants from the lot. One had pure white blooms and two had white blooms with red throats. The plants grew to approximately four feet tall the first year. They died back to the ground and I transplanted the roots to a new bed the following year and all three plants grew to about five feet with blooms the size of dinner plates. So far so good. I moved them again this past winter. My wife accuses me of moving plants around the yard like my mother use to re-arrange furniture in the house. This time I planted the two red throated plants together and moved the white one to a different bed. This year the two planted together are six feet tall have bloomed for three months so far, and started producing flowers, about the size of dessert plates, and so far I have gathered five seed pods off the plants.

I collected 445 seeds from the five seed pods pictured.

I wonder how many might sprout if all were planted and how many more seeds might be harvested from those seeds? It reminded me of a biblical parable know as “The Parable of the Soils”. In the parable the sower of the seed cast his seed so that some falls on the path where it was trampled under foot and the birds ate the seed before it sprouted. Some fell on rocky soil where the seed sprouted and withered in the heat because their roots are shallow and weak. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with the seed and choked it out, and no harvest was produced. The rest fell on good, fertile soil and produced a crop of 30, 60 and 100 fold.

So, If I were to sow 400 seeds and 3/4ths failed to grow, and I had 100 fall on good soil where they could produce a harvest of new seeds, how many seeds might I end up producing?FOOTNOTE: Footnote

If my math is correct the first year’s production of seed would be approximately 5,700 seeds. (30 X 30 = 900, 30 X 60 = 1800, 30 X 100 = 3000, 900 + 1800 + 3000 = 5700) Year two using the same approximate ratios you would have 297,580 seeds.FOOTNOTE: Footnote

And using the same formula for the third year the harvest would be 270,000 seeds.FOOTNOTE: Footnote

As a landscape/nursery/gardener, I know that too many things can happen to reduce the yield of seeds from any single plant of crop. Living in North Texas we deal with drought, flood, tornados, searing heat, bone chilling cold, urban sprawl and climate change to name a few. It could cause some to hoard what they produce, fearing failure. It could also cause some to not even try because it’s too hard. It can also cause some of us to share what we have with others to encourage ever increasing production for the future.

I fall into the last category. I believe we can all share from out of surplus to bless others and make our community, state, country and world a better place in which to live. I can only do what I can do, but together we can do so much more. Together, we can live our lives out of a vision of plenty and work toward more for all rather than more for the few. How we steward our land, water, seeds and produce is meant to benefit our fellow man. People are what matter.

It’s a good lesson from a small seed pod.

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