Story last updated at 6:32 PM on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kachemak Gardener's advice not in vain

Dear Rosemary,

Last winter, as I planned about what to plant in my garden, I thought about you.

In the spring when I paid for my seed packets and a few other supplies at the Wagon Wheel, I thought about you.

When I realized in May I would never start seeds inside and if I was ever going to garden I just needed to get those seeds in the dirt, I thought about you.

As I cleared out the old flowerbed in the back yard neglected by time and overcome by grass, I thought about you.

And when I made those raised rows, planted seeds, watered, weeded and puttered through the summer, I thought about you.

I couldn't wait to tell you I had planted my first garden. I knew you'd be, well, delighted.

My efforts certainly were nothing to brag about. I would have been embarrassed had you seen what I called "my garden." But I doubt if I would have done it had it not been for you. I'm a devout Kachemak Gardener fan, and the more I read what you wrote the more I wanted to garden.

It took five years, but all those years of you prodding and encouraging people to garden were not in vain. In fact, almost every time I read your column, I felt you were writing for me, talking to me, telling me "You can do this. Really."

I bet hundreds of other readers have felt the same way.

I don't know how many of those readers garden today because of you. I do know I did something I might not ever have done because you convey your passion for gardening in your writing. You want other people — you wanted me — to experience the joy that you experience when you garden.

I've always appreciated that Kachemak Gardener was as much about life as it is about gardening. "My garden" taught me these life lessons: At some point, you've got to quit thinking and reading and talking about what you want to do and just do it. That applies to gardening and just about everything else.

I tried to follow your gardening advice.

I kept it small — my garden was maybe 2 feet wide and 10 feet long — and simple — gardening gloves, a shovel and a rake were my tools. I made it mine by keeping a patch of perennials that bloom every summer, despite years of neglect, in the midst of the veggies. I thought about what we would eat and enjoy.

Still, I planted way too much lettuce (what in the heck was I thinking?) and not nearly enough carrots or broccoli. The garlic, the cauliflower and the peas were flops.

Nevertheless, I consider "my garden" a grand success. That's because it was fun, and I learned a few things, including I should have watered more and I should have watered early in the morning.

I also learned gardening is a lot like walking. It calms the heart, frees the mind and opens the door for all kinds of reflections and wild imaginings.

Digging around in the ground was satisfying. Eating lettuce, carrots and broccoli from a little patch of dirt that was "my garden" nourished my soul as much as it did my body. Thinking about doing it again brings a smile of anticipation.

What a surprise. Me. Gardening. Indeed.

Thank you, Rosemary, for sharing your joy with readers of the Homer News for the past 20 years. We'll miss your wit and wisdom. We'll miss how you made us laugh and cry — sometimes in the same sentence. We'll miss your lessons on life and gardening.

The Homer News won't be the same without you.

With more appreciation than words can convey,

P.S. For the record, Your daughter is right: You should never make major decisions — like stopping a column of 20 years — in the doldrums of January.

Lori Evans is editor and publisher of the Homer News and a beginning gardener.