The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 1, 2014

Krohn column: Odds may be against this home hobby

Super Bowl weekend means one thing.

It's time to start seeding indoor plants.

Yes, I know, the University Extension and master gardeners say to wait until mid-March, but what do they know. I respect education, but I'm always suspicious of people who put "master" in their title. I know as much as anyone about covering North Mankato Port Authority meetings, but I don't call myself a master Port Authority meeting reporter.

And master gardeners like to lord their knowledge over you, saying things like "capsicum annuum" and "solanum melongena" instead of calling them bell peppers and eggplants.

Admittedly, my indoor gardening hasn't always gone as planned. We were going to try to winter over wave petunias this year.

I read about taking cuttings off the plant, putting the tips in rooting hormone, planting them in potting soil and waiting for the waves of color to begin.

I have two trays of dead petunias sitting in the corner, mocking me with waves of brown stems.

I think it could have been a problem with the rooting hormone. I'm not exactly sure how the hormone works but hormones make gardening sound kinda sexy.

I read about making your own rooting compound from willow tree branches and water, which could give me free root hormones and provide a use for the gigantic weeping willow tree in the backyard. My wife wanted the willow tree; she thinks they are romantic. Apparently, her idea of romance is watching me rake up willow branches and cussing.

In just a few years the tree took over most of the yard and it rains down branches after every wind. As one person looking at our willow asked, "So you planted that on purpose?"

I've threatened to cut down the monster, but I like being married. If the rooting hormone willow-water thing works, maybe I can start a small business selling it. I think the tree could still look romantic without any branches on it.

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