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4:12 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

New Year's resolutions for tri-city gardeners

It's hard to believe I've been publishing this garden column for an entire year. I was watching a wrestling meet this week when I ran into an old Prescott football buddy. We played Prescott High School ball together back in the late '70s. We never guessed back then that we would both be writing. My teachers probable can't believe it now. He's a technical writer for the school district and I've been writing gardening handouts, columns and articles for years. Things are always more than you imagined when you were younger.

I get a lot of positive feedback from many of you and the ones that take issue with my gardening techniques have been kind. Thank you. You're welcome to send your comments to me at my e-mail address: watters@cableone.net

I really enjoy retailing, but it can be a seven-day-a-week job at some times during the season. I enjoy remembering the old days when Prescott closed its stores on Sundays. Anymore, we're open everyday. The only question is how long each day. The month of January is the only remaining month that we close on Sundays, starting the Sunday after Christmas.

Unfortunately, the day after Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. Liquidating the remaining holiday inventory is the highest of priorities for any retailer in town, especially those with Christmas shops. So my wife and I will be at the store bright and early on Sunday to let customers in who want to snap up the remaining holiday bargains. I'll be rewarding my wife later with a cruise to the Bahamas Jan. 19. That ought to make up for an awkward work schedule, at least she thinks so.

A good friend, Rotary buddy, and long time customer since 1978 came in this week with a new Watters record for carrots. John Evanoff was harvesting carrots this week that he planted in April out in the Prescott Country Club area. He brought a monster of a carrot in. My entire staff was impressed, and we've seen a lot of garden phenomina. I've been growing carrots for years, but this was the largest I've seen. Measuring more than 17 inches long and weighing almost 3 pounds, it was impressive. I knew you wouldn't believe me unless I took a picture, so look for yourself.

I asked him what he attributes his gardening successes too. He said he uses a lot of compost in his gardens and that makes the biggest difference. "Carrots were a little slow to get started this year because is was so dry, but the harvest has been good." I think it looks like mutant genetics to me. He's taking it to California this week to show it off to family and friends. I asked him to give me a report on how it tastes when he gets back. I'll let you know what he says.

Now for the top New Years Resolutions for tri-city gardeners. I know New Year's resolutions are to be broken, and garden projects are no exceptions. Gardening resolutions are meant to be broken, that's part of the therapeutic benefits of planning New Year's garden resolutions. The act of planning a spring garden project is enough to dispel the winter blues, regardless of whether you follow through on your intentions. The planning itself is highly therapeutic.

Seed companies understand the planning hysteria that grips even lukewarm plant lovers during winter's cold reign. They send out enticing seed catalogs precisely when we're desperate for outdoor vegetation. We may end up never planting half the seed we buy. But it doesn't matter, the seeds of hope have been planted, the hope that spring will soon be here.

So this is my hope for many of my garden column friends this next year. Here we go:

Top New Year's resolutions for gardeners:

• I will provide maximum visual interest for the winter season.

• I will grow some plants that will enhance my fall landscape design

• I will build a patio or deck (they're easier to build than you think).

• I will have major pruning done on any trees that present a hazard.

• I will define my landscape design tastes and try to use them.

• I will install a water feature (it's not as expensive as you think).

• I will stop complaining about mowing the lawn and do something to reduce lawn care needs.

• I will stop complaining about garden pests or weeds and take preventive measures against them.

• I will stop complaining about watering and do something to reduce water usage. (Think drip irrigation.)

I will fully enjoy my yard, rather than being a slave to its upkeep. I will "stop to smell the roses."

I will elaborate on many of these garden topics in future garden columns. Next week the column will be on "a pruning primer", why winter is one of the gardeners most important times.

Ken Lain is the owner of Watters Home and Garden Center and is an Arizona Certified Nursery Professional and Master Gardener.