Story last updated at 2:51 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2002

Plant, plant, plant; gardeners need to bloom in town
Everywhere I go in this little town of ours the talk is about gardens. At least that's what I hear, gee I wonder why?

The entire population (or so it seems to me as I attempt to do my errands) knows that I write this column and just can't wait to talk gardens whenever they see me, no matter what they were occupied with before my appearance. Fortunately I love to listen and, even more fortunately, I love to garden. What an excellent combination.

But what I really want is for more of you to garden. I want this whole town to have a garden in some shape or form. If you do not have land of your own, borrow some. Or use whiskey barrels on your deck for a tub full of salad greens, or peas, or ANYTHING THAT IS GREEN. Any container will do, just be sure to have drainage holes in the bottom.

The growing season really is already here. If you consider all of the seeds that you could be starting or the lists that you could be making the time really has arrived. There is just this little matter of temperatures in the teens and snow on the ground. All of this will pass before you know it and all will be well.

I am giving my garden a great deal of thought this year. As most of you know, this garden will begin its fourth year in May. This is a really new garden. But I have planted so many trees, shrubs and perennials in the last three years that I need to step back and take a look at what I have going on here.

Last season I had plants that already needed to be divided. Hopefully these lovelies will make it through the inevitable freeze and thaw cycle that elevation 396 is famous for. Other than toss about the limbs of the Christmas tree on vulnerable plants (i.e. digitalis) I did not mulch. My plan is to watch the weather and use floating row cover when and where necessary to protect plants from doom.

I planted a deciduous hedge the first year composed of caragana (Siberian Pea shrub) and spirea with spring blooming bulbs scattered about their feet. The problem for the first three years was that the plants were so very young and forlorn. So I stuffed a million (at least) pink peony poppies in the bed to sort of have something look like it was growing there. Otherwise I would have been weeding an almost empty bed.

It looked spectacular as only peony poppies can look and I recommend them to one and all. But now the shrubs are coming into their own and the poppies won't be needed. I do believe that I will have to start a new bed just for these wondrously beautiful poppies.

I received word that a friend's tomatoes growing in her window were looking dreadful. I do believe that the problem is too much heat. The light is a good thing but the heat generated in those windows can be deadly. If you have this going on at your house, move the plants back from the windows or put some kind of sheer material on the window to protect the plants from the direct sunlight.

If your seedlings are looking leggy, do not fear. When the time comes to plant them out you will bury the stem up to the first true leaves and all will be well.

I just planted my tomatoes into their bins in the greenhouse and they immediately looked better for the transfer. I had them under brand new full spectrum lights and thought all would be well, but no. What they really wanted was to be out in the greenhouse with all of that glorious sun pouring on them and a thermostatically controlled vent and heat to make life ever so pleasant.

Tomatoes love to have their stems buried. It makes for more roots and they love to surface feed. I shall deny them nothing. Tomatoes are what I want (along with a puppy and a one carat diamond.)

I am just assuming that I have cut worms in my greenhouse soil. The mixture is compost and peat from the garden. To assure myself of a harvest I set each seedling into a pot with the bottom cut out of it. Hopefully this will deter the cut worm. I did the same with the lettuce seedlings. I check on these young plants, so very full of potential yet so susceptible to catastrophe, at least a thousand times a day, ever watchful for cut worms. I also have more seedlings in reserve in the off chance my vigilance fails.

The annuals that I broadcast are starting to germinate. I swore that I wouldn't do this: start a ton of annuals, but here I am, and there they are. ... The basil is filling an entire flat and I doubt if I will regret that move. Who has ever had too much basil?

The artichokes are looking excellent. They still have plenty of room in their present containers but I am on the lookout for them to need be repotted soon. They will need this second repotting before it's time to set them outside.

Note: The Homer Garden Club meets the fourth Sunday of each month in the Council Chambers of City Hall at 2 p.m..