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We're Digging It

  • June plant swap is Saturday
    “June Plant Swap” is 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St. Reservations are required by Thursday; 427-6000 or go to www.
  • Workshops focus on preserving produce
    FORT WAYNE – The Purdue Extension Service in Allen County is offering Preserving Nature’s Bounty workshops on safe home food preservation procedures and to answer frequently asked questions on canning, freezing
  • Master Gardener helpline available
    A free Master Gardener Volunteers Helpline is available through The Ohio State University Extension Office in Paulding, Ohio.

2010 Gardening Plans

Call it beginner's luck, but last summer's garden exceeded my expectations. This year I have more confidence and have invested more money in seeds since the plants I started from seeds last year worked.

I am going to wait until April to plant my eggplant and pepper plants since I discovered that they need temperatures above 70 degrees to germinate and grow. The family room that I grow my plants is at 60 degrees during the night in March. I might also put them in a cooler with a little heat from a heating pad at night while they are germinating.

I am now planting tomatoes, herbs and lettuce. My Juliet grape and cherry tomatoes worked well last year and I am adding Early Girl, Yellow Pear and heirloom Brandywine Pink tomatoes. I am not buying peat pots; I am making my own pots from all the newspaper that accumulates at my home.

I bought some heirloom Early Silverline melon seeds. I don't know where I will be able to plant them or how to grow them. My mother says, "You know you're really into gardening when you buy seeds because they look interesting yet you have no clue as to what you are going to do with them."

I am expanding my vegetable growing areas by adding more pots, and including vegetables in the flower beds. Morning Glories looked great last summer, growing up a post on my front porch. I am going to add heirloom Trionfo Violetto garden beans with mottled leaves and deep purple pods. I have stone pillars in front of my home so I am going to place pots on top and grow the Yellow Pear tomatoes with flowers.

I have been unable to find eggplant seeds other than Black Beauty, which is a lot like the variety at the supermarket. Last year I bought a Burpee's Garden Medley pack of Applegreen, Rosa Bianca, Millionaire, and Snowy at Lowe's. What happened to the eggplant choices this year? I am still searching.

-- Cathie

Hoping for better luck

My wife and I have not made any firm plans of what we will have in our container garden.We will plant five or six varieties of heirloom tomatoes and hope that we have better luck with them than last year. The cool weather last year was perfect for fungus, but bad for tomatoes. Our tomatoes got the cercospora leaf mold. The leaves became spotted and wilted, and our tomato season ended far earlier than we had planned.

This time around we plan to spray fungicide on the plants before the mold problem appears. But a good, hot summer will be best antidote to any mold problem.We will also plant culinary herbs such as basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley. The chives wintered over ,but then chives always winter well.As for flowers, we will be looking for something unusual, as we always do. We will be buying a good portion of our flowers at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory's Mother's Day plant sale May 7-9. There will 700 types of plants. Our style of flower buying is "I'll have that and that and that and... ." That sort of thing goes on until I say that I'm tired of planting and don't want to water any more plants.

I recently had my spring training for the planting season. I helped plant pots of grape hyacinths at the botanical conservatory. Two hours of bending over and crawling around on my hands and knees planting hyacinths gave me a taste of what's coming with the planting season. And I wanted more.--Frank

No-mow zones top my list

The plan: Continue reducing areas that are difficult to mow.

Why: I have an electric mower that requires a cord and works well for most of my needs, except at the far reaches of the yard. It is quiet, mulches grass clippings and doesn't involve stinky gasoline, fall draining or any mechanical skills at all.

I plug it in and go … until I get to that strip of grass along the sidewalk. The cord barely reaches and I have to unplug it from the machine, toss it over the shade beds and plug it in again to reach the corners.

I'm thinking big hostas, spring-flowering bulbs, Lenten roses and lots of mulch.

Behind the house, I have to mow under and behind the 5-year-old hydrangea hedge, which will eventually be so dense that the grass won't get enough light to grow.

I'm waffling on what to do with that area. Make a bed of shade-loving perennial groundcovers underneath and sun-lovers at the edges or just put down layers of newspaper, cover it with mulch and wait for the plants to fill out?



Journey through gardening season with Rosa Salter Rodriguez (feature writer), Anne Gregory (Web editor and writer), Frank Noonan (copy editor) and Cathie Rowand (photographer)