Gao Yongliang’s mood during this period of time could be described as a roller-coaster ride of sadness and joy.
First, Sequoia Investment suddenly withdrew its investment in him, which was like a bolt from the blue. Before he could digest the news, Dezhi Investment, which had rejected him before, approached him, saying that it was willing to reconsider the project, but Dezhi Investment must have an absolute controlling stake in Gao Yongliang’s company. Gao Yongliang flew abroad for this purpose and the two sides tussled over the shareholding for a few days before Gao Yongliang finally relented and took 49% of the company’s shares, while Dezhi Investment took 51%.
Having solved the problem of funds, Gao Yongliang returned to China and focused all his energy on Lu Lingxi, spending almost every day in Tiny Garden. After a period of time, Yan Yue couldn’t bear it and agreed to cooperate with him. Not cooperating with Xue Yongtong, but directly with Gao Yongliang. Tiny Garden would become Gao Yongliang’s supplier together with Luxuan Gardening. Yan Yue made it clear in the cooperation that the number of “mutated” begonias was relatively small, so Tiny Garden could only provide the quantity for Gao Yongliang’s experiments in the early stage, and that large-scale production would have to wait until next year. Knowing that it was true, Gao Yongliang had no choice but to agree.
Throughout the cooperation process, Gao Yongliang and Tiny Garden were very happy, but Xue Yongtong was a little bit depressed. In the end, he still didn’t know what was going on with these begonias. He had originally thought that Tiny Garden’s plant nursery was not large enough and that if they wanted to cultivate begonias on a large scale, they could only work with Luxuan, but he didn’t expect that Qiu Jun would suddenly have an accident and sell off Qiu Tian Gardening with the speed of lightning, and the person who bought it would be Yan Yue. Now it was also Tiny Garden’s plant nursery, and Xue Yongtong had nothing to do with it. What made Xue Yongtong even more frustrated was that he had just owed Yan Yue a huge favour and he couldn’t show his depression, so he could only smile at Lu Lingxi with a kind face and continue to go crazy over the begonias when he turned away.
Xue Yongtong’s private depression was unknown to Lu Lingxi, whose entire focus was on reproducing evolved begonias.
Under normal circumstances, begonias are propagated mainly by sowing seeds, cuttings and tissue culture. However, as begonias are the offspring of hybridisation, seed propagation is highly variable and has a legacy of instability, so seeds are rarely used for sowing and most begonias are propagated by cuttings and tissue culture. Cuttings method was the most familiar to Lu Lingxi. Select young shoots of about ten centimetres, remove the base leaves, wait until it is dry and insert it into a soil bed. It will take about three weeks to root and grow into a brand new plant. In addition to cuttings there was another fast way of propagation, tissue culture propagation. This method of reproduction was used to reproduce a large number of flower seedlings in a test tube. Specifically, a small piece of tissue from a flower plant, such as a leaf or stem node or flower bud, was cultured in a nutrient medium and, after continuous cutting and propagation, thousands of new plants could be produced in a relatively short period of time.
Compared to cuttings, Lu Lingxi was not very skilled at the latter method. Although the plant nursery of Qiu Tian had a corresponding culture room, Lu Lingxi chose to use cuttings in the early stages and slowly multiply the number of begonias. Of course he also gradually began to learn how to use the culture room in preparation for large-scale propagation in the future.
This process was also a bonding process between Lu Lingxi and the workers at the former Qiu Tian Gardening plant nursery. The Qiu Tian Gardening’s plant nursery was too large to be taken care of by Uncle Li and Yu Xiaojuan alone like the Tiny Garden plant nursery, and workers had to be hired from outside. Yan Yue didn’t make any major changes among the original workers, only dismissing some he felt were unsuitable. The rest were regarded as being skilled and honest.
Among them, Lu Lingxi was most impressed by Lu Guoxing. Lu Guoxing was in his forties, with a long face, slightly dark skin and a tall body. He was only an ordinary worker in the plant nursery, but he was the only one who could see that the begonias cultivated by Lu Lingxi were different from ordinary begonias. After Yan Yue investigated Lu Guoxing’s background, he simply promoted him. When Lu Lingxi was around, he was Lu Lingxi’s assistant, and when Lu Lingxi was not around, he was the person in charge of the plant nursery.
By the time this series of things got on track, it was already early October. Xiao Feng heard from somewhere that Wang Shuxiu was worried about the supply of vegetables in winter, and after taking Tiger and his men to inspect the vegetable market in Fengcheng, he decided to turn Qiu Tian Gardening’s plant nursery into a vegetable garden, with the greenhouses used for growing vegetables. It was under Xiao Feng’s name, and he had only just begun preparations when several small restaurants near the original card and chess parlour immediately approached him, wanting to cooperate with him. To put it bluntly, they also wanted Xiao Feng to cover them.
After hearing of Xiao Feng’s plans, Lu Lingxi thought of the tomato seeds he had collected and the grape seeds he had been awarded by the system last time. In general, grapes are grown by taking cuttings or buying seedlings directly. Lu Lingxi had read a book that explained that the grapes produced by the planting of delicious grape seeds were not necessarily delicious, and the actual seedlings grown from the seeds bore fruit very late, taking about four or five years to bear fruit. But the seeds in his hand were not ordinary seeds, they were rewarded by the system. Considering the effect of growing tomatoes, Lu Lingxi was very sure about the grape seeds. He didn’t know how effective Brother Feng would be at growing vegetables at the beginning, but good seeds should help a little. The tomatoes at the very least would definitely be popular, and the grapes would likely not be bad either.
Besides, it was going to be winter soon and the tomatoes in the yard were about to stop bearing fruit. Lu Lingxi wanted to eat the tomatoes and was curious about the grape seeds that the system had rewarded him with, so it would be great if Brother Feng was willing to try them out in the greenhouse. With these thoughts in mind, Lu Lingxi gave some of the seeds, both tomatoes and grapes, to Wang Shuxiu, asking her to suggest that Xiao Feng plant some of them suitably.
Wang Shuxiu looked at the seeds on the table, “What does this mean?”
Lu Lingxi meekly said, “These are the seeds of our tomatoes, which will definitely grow better and taste better than the seeds sold in the market, and the grape seeds I found, which will definitely grow delicious grapes.” If it wasn’t for Wang Shuxiu’s sake, he wouldn’t have taken out these seeds.
Wang Shuxiu laughed a little; the little bastard’s mind was clear at a glance. She slapped Lu Lingxi, curving her willow eyebrow, “You do worry a lot.”
Since Xiao Feng had closed the card and chess parlour, Wang Shuxiu and Xiao Feng’s relationship obviously became closer. But the two didn’t clarify anything and still got along in a lukewarm manner. Wang Shuxiu thought this was fine and Xiao Feng didn’t seem to be in a hurry, but it was Lu Lingxi who struggled several times in private over whether he should continue to call Xiao Feng “Brother Feng” or Uncle Xiao.
Lu Lingxi scratched his head and looked at Wang Shuxiu with some embarrassment. Wang Shuxiu smiled and put away the seeds, “Okay, I’ll take them to Brother Feng and show them to him. It’s up to him whether to plant them or not.”
Lu Lingxi didn’t say anything, but felt that Xiao Feng would definitely plant them as long as he wasn’t stupid. He had eaten the tomatoes in the backyard and knew what they tasted like.
In fact, Xiao Feng was also considering the tomatoes at Lu Lingxi’s house. He thought he would find time to ask Wang Shuxiu where they bought the seeds of the tomatoes so that he would go and buy some too.
Tiger sat next to Xiao Feng, pretending to hold a book on vegetable cultivation and pointing out, “We also need to grow some cabbage, beans, garlic sprouts… right, and winter squash. In order to keep the original taste of these crops, it is best not to use pesticides and try not to use some chemical fertilisers to ripen them.”
He spoke in a serious manner, and Erfei laughed so hard that his stomach hurt as he teased, “You actually can read, Tiger?”
Tiger kicked him discontentedly, “Fuck off, Lao Tzu graduated from high school, too.”
The two of them were joking around, but Xiao Feng felt a bit impatient and lit a cigarette, asking, “How is hiring people going?” Growing flowers was not the same as growing vegetables, so the original workers of the greenhouse couldn’t be used. Xiao Feng picked and chose a few, Yan Yue came over and picked a few, and fired the rest. There were not enough people to do the job, and the brothers under Xiao Feng didn’t look like they could farm, so they had to hire from outside.
When it came to the serious business, Tiger was not vague at all. “I found the people, they’re all from the nearby villages. Dapeng also asked around privately. The people hired are all good at farming and have honest personalities, there’s nothing to cause trouble.”
Erfei laughed, “Are we still afraid that someone will cause trouble?”
Tiger glared at him, “We’ve become good people now, you know? Don’t fight if you can not fight. You have to convince people with virtue.”
Even Xiao Feng couldn’t hold back his laughter. “It’s past ten o’clock, get lost and go to bed.”
After sending Tiger away, Xiao Feng calculated that he would have to buy a few more cars, rent a few more stalls outside, leave a few of his men to keep an eye on the vegetable beds and use a few to run the transportation; the send the rest to the stalls and let them toss and turn.
After a good night’s sleep, Xiao Feng received a phone call from Wang Shuxiu early the next morning, asking him to come to the restaurant sometime. Xiao Feng didn’t delay and went to the restaurant after breakfast. Wang Shuxiu brought out the seeds that Lu Lingxi had given her yesterday. Xiao Feng was happy to hear that they were the seeds of the tomatoes grown in the backyard that Lu Lingxi had specially prepared for him.
Wang Shuxiu also explained that the initial seeds for the tomatoes in the backyard had been given to Lu Lingxi by someone, and Lu Lingxi didn’t know where to buy them outside. Xiao Feng waved his hand; Lu Lingxi had thought of giving him these seeds, showing his kindness. But what was this packet of grape seeds?
Following his gaze, Wang Shuxiu smiled, “The little bastard probably wants to eat grapes. No one has ever planted these seeds, so just leave them alone, don’t worry about them, Brother Feng.”
Xiao Feng turned the seeds in his hand and didn’t say anything. He had never planted grapes before, but at least it was a gift from Lu Lingxi, so he could find a corner and plant them, it wouldn’t take up much space. It would also improve his image in front of his “son”.
Lu Lingxi didn’t know that Xiao Feng was planning to grow grapes but was planting them with the intention of pleasing him. He was now closing his shop and preparing to go to Lingshui Village with Yan Yue. Before leaving the city, Yan Yue drove him around Fengcheng, deliberately looking for the places they had purified before.
The first place the two arrived at was the south of the city. A while after the purification Lu Lingxi had also come here to have a look, and the changes were not very obvious. But after a month, the changes were somewhat more prominent. Compared to the surrounding area, the plants on the purified land grew exceptionally lush, with unknown wild flowers and wild grasses crowding together, looking very vibrant. A few stray cats wandered in the grass and the largest one lay lazily in a tree, belly up in the sun. When it heard the commotion, the cat glanced at them unhurriedly, but its golden pupils widened instantly when it saw Lu Lingxi. Its nose sniffed, it turned over and crouched down to meow affectionately at Lu Lingxi.
Lu Lingxi smiled, and his mental scan spread out to fix on the willow tree where the cat was squatting. The tree in front of him was in the centre of the purified soil, its branches were thick and full of leaves. As the afternoon sunlight hit the tree, it was as if there was fluid jade running through the leaves. Unknowingly, the willow tree had fulfilled the requirements for evolution.
The white panel emerged and the form of the willow tree appeared on it. The status in the bottom showed that the willow tree was at its primary peak at this time. Want to evolve immediately?
Lu Lingxi chose yes, as the willow tree in its primary peak didn’t make much noise when it evolved into the first-level state and would not feel like an earthquake like when the big willow tree first evolved. As Lu Lingxi confirmed, the willow tree’s roots began to grow slowly. Except for a part of it that went underground, the rest seemed to be extending towards a certain direction. Lu Lingxi was taken aback. The panel status showed that there was no mistake, part of the willow tree’s roots were really extending towards the north, just at an extremely slow pace.
Before he knew it, the cat in the tree obviously sensed something and jumped down quickly, meowing again at Lu Lingxi and running away into the grass. Lu Lingxi felt that the intuition of animals was much sharper than that of humans. Taking his attention back from the cat, he told Yan Yue about the change in the willow tree with a hint of confusion, “North? What’s in the north?”
Yan Yue couldn’t see the white panel and listened to Lu Lingxi’s description thoughtfully. The location of the big willow tree in Lingshui Village was in the north, as was the other nearest purified soil, and of course the place where Xiao Xi lived was also in the north. He felt that the choice of the willow tree was explained by one of these three places, but wherever it was, it seemed to indicate the magic of its evolution, or rather the magic of the panel. He rubbed Lu Lingxi’s hair soothingly, “Let’s go to the other purification site. The closest one to here is not far to the north.”
Lu Lingxi thought of this place as well and nodded obediently.
Twenty minutes later, the two arrived at the other purification place. The purified land in the south of the city seemed to be spreading very quickly in all directions because the surrounding development was more backward, with less movement of people and correspondingly less pollution. Meanwhile, the area in front of them was also spreading in all directions, but the extent was smaller than that in the south of the city. Compared to the disorderly area in the south of the city, this place seemed to have been tended to, with the ground cleared of weeds, leaving only unknown wild flowers of various colours. Under the willow tree on one side, there were a few old men playing chess, and there were also children running around, looking very lively.
Yan Yue parked the car on the opposite side of the road, and the two of them didn’t get out of the car. Lu Lingxi’s mental scan had a range of thirty metres, enough to see the state of the willow tree.
The white panel surfaced; the willow tree had likewise fulfilled the requirement for evolution. Lu Lingxi didn’t hesitate to choose yes, and the panel soon showed that the willow tree’s roots had changed in exactly the same way as in the south. One part was rooted to the ground, and the other part was slowly extending towards the north. At this point, without Yan Yue having to say anything, Lu Lingxi guessed that the two willow trees should be aiming at the big willow tree in Lingshui Village. He was a little worried that the movement would be too big in the future, but on second thought, at the rate these roots were extending, it would take a few years to reach the big willow tree. Calculating the time, he didn’t need to worry for the time being.
Yan Yue listened to Lu Lingxi’s analysis and nodded while driving. A few years would be enough time for Fengcheng to change drastically. By the time the district was integrated into Fengcheng, no one would have guessed that the source would be there.
The two of them circled around Fengcheng and all five purified soils expanded well, but not all the willows met the requirements for evolution; only three of them met the evolutionary requirements. The other two trees were also flourishing, but they felt as if something was missing. Lu Lingxi thought about it, and in a flash of intuition, he said, “Vitality, what they lack is vitality.” Just like the plants in the plant nursery, some evolved and some didn’t. The ones that didn’t evolve were not because he didn’t take good care of them, but because they lacked the vitality to evolve.
Lu Lingxi explained excitedly, “Although I can’t see it, I can feel it. I was wrong in the past. The vitality of a plant is not an illusory substance, but an energy. Every stage of a plant’s growth requires a different amount of energy. Just like this willow tree, it has not met the requirements for evolution because it does not have enough vitality, that is, it has not accumulated enough energy. When it has stored enough energy, it should be able to evolve.”
Yan Yue nodded thoughtfully, further thinking of the plant hearts and the power of nature. If they were linked in this way, he did feel that the vitality Lu Lingxi spoke of was somewhat like the plant hearts.
On the way out of the city, Lu Lingxi was somewhat excited because he figured out the reason why plants couldn’t evolve. He had not been to Lingshui Village for a few days, as his recent activities were mostly in the plant nursery of Qiu Tian Gardening. The greenhouse in Lingshui Village had been built long ago, and Yan Yue had even had a pond dug in the middle of the plant nursery. This time, the two of them went to the plant nursery with the intention of filling the pond with water and trying to cultivate some aquatic plants while it was still not cold.
When Lu Lingxi talked about the pond, he remembered the first-level peak victoria that Xue Yongtong had. He was a little itchy and couldn’t help but say, “Big Brother Yan, do you think Uncle Xue will agree if we go to him and say we want to buy that victoria?”
Yan Yue indulgently rubbed Lu Lingxi’s hair. It didn’t matter what Xue Yongtong thought; if Lu Lingxi liked it, he would find a way to get Xue Yongtong to agree.