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Wild Ideas A column by Mary Keck

Green thumb connection

May 16, 2012 - My mom, who lives a few hours away in Indianapolis, planted the seed of my love for gardening.

Even in the smallest plot, my mom can find a way to grow something beautiful.

It's because of her that I can't walk by a bed of daisies or hyacinths without commenting on their lovely blooms.

If I see a flower that's unfamiliar, I can ask my mom for help identifying it, and each spring we talk about what's growing in our gardens.

Since I couldn't be with my mom, it seemed appropriate to spend Mother's Day building a nest for my veggies and herbs.

My husband and I started by laying out the groundwork for a raised bed gardening system. We're trying out raised beds for the first time and hoping to plant the usual suspects like broccoli, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce.

In our previous gardens, we've just dropped the seeds or plants into the tilled dirt already available, which offered varied results.

On the other hand, my mother-in-law's raised bed garden looks spectacular every season, and she's got plenty of vegetables and flowers to share.

According to a copy of Organic Gardening I picked up at the library's book sale a couple of weeks ago, raised beds are the best cradles for growing greens.

The Vegetable Gardner's Bible also recommends them because you're guaranteed to know what's in the soil. In previous gardens, I dropped my baby plants into unknown dirt that may have contained weed seeds or chemicals.

By using raised beds, I know exactly what's in my soil, and an enclosed bed system should also provide protection from weeds and critters.

After finishing our veggie beds on Sunday, I called my mom, and we talked gardens.

There may be many miles between my mother and I, but when I'm working out my green thumb, she doesn't feel so far away.

As I wait for my little sprouts to break through the ground and stretch toward the sun, I'll keep my mom (and you) posted on my raised bed experiment.

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