Gayle Piatt has a vegetable garden in southern Harrison County. Retired from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Piatt is growing corn, zucchini, potatoes (which he says are doing great this year), onions, heirloom tomatoes, green beans, pumpkin and peppers. Since his retirement, this garden has become his passion.
During his professional career, Piatt was a conservation officer in Lewis County and eventually was assigned to a nine-county area as a conservation program leader. He also taught at Camp Robert Webb on Grayson Lake in Carter County, teaching 200 kids a week from June to August.
Here are Piatt's five gardening tips:
1. If possible, plant your garden from east to west. Plant sun-loving plants west, less sun-loving plants east.
2. Do not be afraid to use a hoe, your hands or a rototiller to get rid of weeds, or you will have a weed garden instead of a real garden. Weeds will sap your plants of energy.
3. When planting tomatoes, dig a hole where you want the plants, put fertilizer at the bottom of the hole, cover it with soil, put in your tomato plant, cover with soil and let the roots find the fertilizer.
4. If possible, buy a little seeder. It will save you time and money. If you use the right seeds, the seeder will place the seeds where they need to be.
5. You can save your heirloom tomato seeds or other tomato seeds by picking the tomato you want for seed: Get a bucket with some water in it, crush the tomato by hand, then let it sit for three or four days. Pour off the liquid; your good tomato seeds will go to the bottom. Get a water hose and spray your tomato seeds until clean. Using a portion of panty hose, pour seeds into hose, squeeze out water and hang up where you can keep an eye on them. Every so often, work up seeds by hand for aeration. In the spring, you will have seed as good as you can buy anywhere.