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---Anne K Moore September 11, 2009---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---

Today, 9-11-2009, we fly our flags and look back, reflecting on horrific events.  Those of you who are ''hands in the dirt'' gardeners know that a turn through the flower garden, a few weeds pulled in the vegetable patch, or a quiet time watching the birds earn their daily living, will help to settle nerves and calm spirits. 

For those of you thinking about gardening but not knowing where to start, now is the time; and the place to start is with the soil.  Prepare a small bed by digging in natural amendments like compost; then plant a cover crop like vetch or rye and turn it under in late winter.  If you plan to plant early season crops, like peas in November in the South, then leave that area free of a cover crop.  The cover crops, called green manure, need time to break down in the soil before you plant the beds.

On line, you can visit all kinds of garden catalog companies.  Just by searching with your favorite search engine, you can find listings for annuals (seasonal and die out), perennials (live more than one year), vegetables, trees, and shrubs.  Most of these catalogs are a wealth of information.  You can learn what grows in your zone, what is newest on the market, how large and wide something will grow, just for some examples. 

If you don't know your USDA Zone, then go to and click on U.S. Hardiness Zone Map.  If you want to find your frost-free date or average first frost date, go to the same page and click on Frost Dates.  If you prefer to use the Sunset Western Garden Zones, then this is the link:  Sunset has also expanded their unique zone coverage to most of the U.S.  The links to states other than Western can also be accessed at this same site. 

Another resource for garden information is your local University Cooperative Extension Service.  Originally, this service was developed so that farmers had a place to get crop, disease, and insect information.  With the shrinking of the American farm, the service has expanded to help all gardeners.  Almost, if not all Extension Services, also have a Master Gardener program.  These gardeners are trained, through rigorous schooling, to help the Extension Agents in their work with gardeners.  The mantra of agents and master gardeners alike is ''Get a soil test.''  It is good advice.

You can show your colors with flowers as well as with flags.  Symbolism is at home in a garden.  Use a grouping of empty large containers to signify the fallen.  Commemorate the 9-11 rubble with a rock garden.  Garden for the serenity and beauty it can afford.  Raise vegetables for safe food for the table.  Show red, white, and blue for remembrance.  Garden for sanity.


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