For big plants in May, get tomato seeds now

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By Cheryl Steenerson

OK, let’s get the big news out of the way first. Don’t worry, I’m still going to be here writing this column, I’m still going to open the vegetable stand from Memorial Day to Labor Day and I’m still going to be here on my wonderful farm. It’s just that I’m leaving my job at the library.
I have a great new opportunity to work with a company that manages programs to serve developmentally disabled adults in Kentucky. I’m very excited. I get to work great hours with great people. So, the day after Valentine’s Day will be my last working day at the library. From then on, you can call me at home or e-mail me with your gardening questions.
I will miss working at the library. I’ve been there, first part-time then full time, for over 13 years. Former director Jeff Sauer wanted me to start an after school program that helped kids with their homework back in 1999.
It was a program that got great support and grew rapidly. It is that program, and those precious kids, that I will miss the most. OK, so I might miss teasing some folks at the counter and hearing those wild and wacky gardening stories. Like I said, you can call me.
Now, we’re halfway through February and if you want to have tomato plants that are well over 2 feet tall by May, then you need to gather your seeds. It isn’t hard to start your garden from seed; ard is digging a 20-foot ditch by hand.
Those of you who don’t really garden, but want a tomato plant or two, can do it really easy. Get two Styrofoam cups. Poke a hole in each bottom with a pen. Fill them with damp potting soil. Plant a seed, just under the top of the soil, 1/4th of an inch. Sprinkle with water and place it on a little plate (a jar lid works great) in a warm, sunny location.
You can place plastic wrap over the top of the cup to help keep the heat in before the seed sprouts. The only hard part of starting seeds is the beginning. The seed planting depth must be right, the amount of heat and sun must be right. And the watering must be just enough to keep the soil damp, but not so much that you drown it. You can do this
The seed library at the public library just got a big donation of seeds from Mt. Eden Green House. There is no cost to you. You just have to have a library card, watch a DVD at home to learn how to save seed, and then “borrow” the seeds that you want, vegetables, herbs or flowers.
At the end of the season, harvest the seed from your grown plants and return them to the library. We’ll even provide the envelope. There is no penalty fee if you don’t succeed. It’s a great way to experiment just for fun.
The warm weather has brought out not just the wild onions and other spring plants, but the critters as well. I’m speaking specifically of our smelly friend, Pepe Le Pew.  Every day I dodge a slow walker while driving to town, and every night I dodge those that walked too slow.
It’s a stinky business all the way around.
Here is the shampoo recipe to use on dogs, if they have a too-close encounter. All of the ingredients are available at you local store. Combine 1 quart of 3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4th cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of plain Joy liquid soap.
Wet the dog with water, then shampoo and leave the soap on them for five minutes before rinsing with water. I don’t know if this stuff will work on cars but it’s worth a try. Now get going on all those gardening chores. Spring has almost sprung and summer is close behind. My smile just keeps getting bigger.
Happy growing.

Cheryl A. Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. Contact her at paysteen@shelbybb.net.