Skip tilling when planting watermelons

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By Cheryl Steenerson

My potatoes and lettuce are growing! I haven’t really put anything else out. I should have put my broccoli and cauliflower out, but then it rained before I could.  Spring rains will complicate our gardening life, but we can’t do it without them.  We just have to be flexible with our schedule.
I have lots of gardening friends who feel that they can no longer garden because of health or strength issues. I always say get a bucket! A deep bucket will allow you to grow a patio tomato or a cucumber or a squash or pepper or some other plant that you love to grow.  
Maybe you have a sweet tooth and want to grow watermelon or cantaloupe. You don’t need to till up the yard. Grab a shovel and a bucket. Cut out a circle of sod about the same size as the bottom of the bucket. Dig down about 4 inches. Put the grassy part of the soil you dig up in the bucket and leave the rest in the hole.
Use the grassy stuff you put in the bucket to fill in some hole or dip in the yard. Plant your three watermelon or cantaloupe seeds in the hole and lightly cover with soil. Next, lay newspaper around the hole and then cover with mulch of some kind. Straw works as mulch and so does rock.  
You just want to keep in mind how you will mow. The whole area will be covered in vines. You can continue to lay newspaper down under the vines, as they grow or you can just let it all grow and then do a “seek and find” in late July.
Years ago, when I lived in the little rental house, I used a big, long screwdriver to poke a hole into the ground. I poured in a few pinches of loose dirt and then a watermelon seed and a little dirt to cover the seed. I poked these holes along the top edge of the bank that I despised mowing.  
Those watermelon came up just fine and then the vines grew down the slope of the bank. I had plenty of melon and didn’t worry about mowing until the end of the season. I did do a little hand clipping of the grass in places and added a few sheets of newspaper, but not much. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
My beautiful blue phlox is blooming! I love that powder blue color because it contrasts so well with the green grass. It is my only “planted” spring bloomer.  My other perennials are summer bloomers and boy! are they shooting up. My roses and cup plants are growing up fast. I get the biggest kick out of checking their progress every day.
This is the year that I finally do a little landscaping along the front of the house. It will be a slow process. First the design, then the digging, then the planting and then the mulching. After that it’s a piece of cake!  It’s the design that requires the most attention. I want to do it right the first time, so I don’t have to do it again!  
Right now, it looks like I’ll be planting Rhododendrons or Azaleas along the north side as the tall shrubs and a few ground covers for depth and dimension. There are way more varieties of colorful shade tolerate plants these days. I just have to make sure that they can handle moist soil. Next to the house is slow to dry out.  
Careful planning will save me time and money. I’m landscaping for a lifetime. It’s taken me 14 years to get to this point. Hey!  If I can’t eat it, it’s not a priority in the summer and it better be maintenance free. Why do you think I have roses?  They’re pretty easy.
Now, go stand in the yard and figure out what you want to do next. Whether you eat it or look at it, it will take some planning. That’s a perfect use of a rainy day.  Plan and then go wander through the garden stores and nursery greenhouses.   You’ll be warm, dry and surrounded by beautiful color!  Happy Growing!

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News. She can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.