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A Bea in the Garden column: Hot dog, gardening season finally here

Bea Westerberg may be contacted at

HOT DOG! Hot dogs can be the subject of many conversations. We have made it to Memorial Day, which is the "official" opening into summer activities including grilling hot dogs. (I guess that we can now also wear white if we want to follow the old dress code). It also has been hot enough that we almost do not need to fire up the grill to cook those dogs, just lay them out and the sun will take care of preparing the meal. Then we can talk about the "real hot dog" that we have at the Westerberg Ranchette. That would be Sitka Thor Bear in the Mist, the soft-coated long-haired husky. I had been putting off taking him to the groomer because of the late blooming spring season and since he spends almost all his time outside, he needed the fur. He is a furry ball of compacted fur, leaves and anything else that has passed his dog house in the last eight months or so.

The professional groomer will be well worth her fee to tackle this beast. Sitka expresses himself very well and disturbed the other dogs in the student grooming program so he had to be elevated to the professional groomer status. He will come back looking like he is ready for the Westminster Dog Show.

Diggin in

It's full speed ahead for any gardening work. The problem might be that we had to catch up and have been trying to do many things at one time.

This growing season has already offered a lot of surprises. One week I had almost totally brown flower garden beds and within seven days the flowers not only popped up but were in full bloom! Another thing that happens every year is that the lilacs are in full bloom and then we get a series of 90-degree days right away and that turns them into brown flowers in no time. If we were to map out lilac trees now would be the time to do it as it seems almost everyone has a collection of them.

We planted a two-color lilac that is purple and white in the same petal. That one is starting to show some areas where it is reverting back after 20 years or so to the original color. We also did another different one that was supposed to be a bright yellow but that one was never what I considered a bright yellow color and now is almost white.

It's safe to plant out the tomatoes, peppers, impatiens and other plants that can't handle chilly evenings. Be sure that your plants are "hardened off" before being planted outdoors. If you were to take an indoor plant, seedling, etc., direct from that environment to the outdoors it would be dead in a few days. If you need more information on this process, do the Google thing.

Almost any plant or seedlings that you purchase from a place that sells them will be ready to plant out. You still want to be a little careful not to plant them out when it is super-hot, dry or windy.

Always, always gently break apart the root system that has formed in pots or trays. This is called "teasing" and this prevents the roots that are trained in circles or squares (root bound) to continue growing that way and never reaching out to expand to grow the plant.

Fresh plantings also need be watered on a regular basis and not allowed to dry out. Once they are established they can fend for themselves a lot better, but think of them as babies for now.

Another always, always is never put your plants in the ground in the pots or tubs they come in. Yes, some will state it's safe and they are bio-degradable and all kinds of other claims that make it sound like a good idea. I have seen some of these pots and tubs last years in the ground and still be almost as good as new. Remember your plant has been trained to grow in that shape and it will make life very hard even if the pot or tub does go away.

Weeds ahead

The objects that are waiting to invade your life, also known as weeds, are kind of laying low for a bit. If you keep them under control from the beginning it will make for a happier you and a better growing area for your plants. Isn't that a grand statement?

You turn your back and your tiny row of onions is surrounded with foot high grass stuff. You pull and everything comes out including the onions or the worst of it is if the onions come and weeds do not. That's when words of the not so nice kind come bubbling out.

One of our vacations for this year will be us looking at and using our new blacktop driveway near the garage and house areas. We are not sure how old it was but it was not in perfect shape when we moved here 32 years ago and this past winter was the straw that broke the black top's back. Once we got over the shock of the price of getting this done we said no cruise this year and decided it would be a benefit that would be there for us every day.

I really look at the large commercial parking lots with a new view of $$$$$. The airports must need a whole truck load of gold to pay for their runways!