front porch
RED, WHITE AND BLUE: One of my favorite garden pots resides on the edge of the front porch. I fill it each spring with red, white and blue flowers and add an American flag. It's always the first pot I tackle in the spring because it's the easiest. Now to get to work on the big bed, which involves the removal of excess vinca before new annuals can be added.

With spring comes the irresistible urge to plant something

It's the season to plant what you want to grow and to fight the emergence of what you don't want.

Ah, spring! It's time to dig in the dirt and plant something. Time to return the sun-loving house plants to the outdoors they prefer.

There is something about the first 50-degree nights and emerging tree leaves that triggers an inner need to put seeds into the ground and nurse seedlings to lush growth. It's always a reminder that nature renews itself with the turning of the season. I pity my friends in regions without seasons because they don't get to experience the annual going to sleep and waking up of nature.

This year is especially challenging, thanks to a foundation repair and drainage project that has been ongoing for the last two years and has resulted in the tearing out of the raised flowerbeds that lined one side of the house.

Our neighborhood has very heavy clay soil — hence foundation problems for homeowners — and I've spent years adding cottonseed hulls and compost to help my flowers and vegetables grow.

It occurs to me off and on how much easier my life would be if I could just bring myself to buy my fresh produce at the farmers markets. Wichita has two really great markets with multiple farmers offering really great produce. I do shop there for things that are really hard to grow in my limited space — sweet corn, for example.

Still, there's nothing like biting into that first red, ripe tomato of the season, right off the vine in my own backyard, or going out to pick green beans and cook them for dinner.

At the same time, it's time to get rid of the unwanted plants that spring up over and over no matter how many times I try to eliminate them. Thanks to the abnormally warm winter and plentiful spring rain, the mulberry saplings that struggle to overtake the wisteria have a head start. The dandelions that pop up all over the lawn, thanks in part to a neighbor's bountiful supply of seed, are at full strength, and the Canada thistle that came from somewhere three years ago seems to spring to life with warm weather no matter how many times I killed it the year before.

I usually cut out the mulberry saplings a couple of times a year. I've been too concerned about killing the wisteria with which they are entwined to try using any kind of stump killer on them. If anyone knows of a good way to get rid of them permanently, feel free to shoot me an email.

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