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Perkolations: Giving gardening another go

Gardening should run in my blood. My great-grandparents owned two nurseries — one in the Cities and one in Crosslake, Perkins Crosslake Garden Center. They made a living on their ability to grow.

Nearly all my close relatives keep gardens; many of them worthy of magazines.

Gardening goes even further back, though. I’m not sure how many “greats” to add to the word “grandfather” before I get to the correct generation, but one of them worked under a prince in England, managing royal gardens.

I, however, am about as far from royal gardener as possible. I have not found the skill to be innate. While I certainly have an interest in gardening, I don’t seem to keep things alive very well. My gardening attempts have so far met failure every time.

Sometimes it’s lack of watering, other times it’s the deer, and other times I do my best to find something to blame it on besides myself.

This year, though, I’m giving it my strongest go. Have you visited the community garden in Pine River? The garden is next to Pine River-Backus School. If you want to garden, and don’t know how or where to start, the community garden can get you going.

A 15- by 15-foot plot is only $10 for the entire summer. That $10 gets you an area of dirt, manure and other materials to fortify it, community tools to use and, perhaps most important, a group of people with a common interest to offer advice and assistance.

Just last weekend I visited the garden and received advice from a gardener at a neighboring plot. He dug down into the dirt, squeezed it into a ball and showed me that if you can form a mud ball in your hand, you probably don’t need to water.

The garden’s also equipped with a tall fence to keep the deer out, and water is provided, so that should solve two of my gardening problems. I suppose the rest is up to us.

If the $10 is holding you back, don’t worry. Three hours of volunteer work will get you a plot for the summer.

I’m really excited about this summer’s garden. It’s going to be fun to watch everyone’s plots grow and see different techniques and crops. I have more hope for my garden than ever before.

If you want more information on the garden, call the PR-B Community Education office at 218-587-2080. There are still plots available. You can get a garden in yet.

I’m evidence that good gardening isn’t something you’re born with. I’m pretty sure the green thumb is earned from the leaves of weeds pulled up in the garden. And to get the green thumb, you’ve got to start with the brown thumb — in our case that meant shoveling many wheel barrows full of alpaca manure to our plots to give them more nutrients.

So far, it looks like it’s working. My peas are coming along nicely. Stop by and check it out.