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Home Country

BY SLIM RANDLES

There's something about spring that brings out the Don Quixote in many of us who are addicted to dirt improvement. You know about dirt improvement, right?

That's where you take whatever dirt you have, find out what it lacks, then add it. Then you find out what plants will absolutely not grow in your yard because of climate, and spend a lot of money sending away for them.

One nursery in the Great Southwest still makes a lot of money each year by importing tons of young maple trees and selling them to people from Back East who retired and moved to warm country, but want to have their reds and golds in the fall.

The nurseryman said, "Well, the trees die, of course, but those people come right back in looking for another one."

It's a passion. Oh, we could look up in a book and see what kind of trees and plants do well where we are and plant those. Heck, anyone can do that. But when you're passionate ... when you possess the soul of a Johnny Appleseed ... then the challenge is yours.

So we try to grow olives in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest. We plant yuccas in New England. Sitka spruce is a pretty tree, so let's plant a few here on the sand dunes near our place in Florida.

One guy, about 30 years ago, grew bananas in Fairbanks. You know Fairbanks, right? That's the place where the most popular postcard is the photograph of the temperature sign over the bank reading minus 65? So this guy wasn't content with just spruce and birch and blueberries. No, he had to have bananas. So he raised a banana tree. In his living room, of course. And when he left town for a week, he had to hire a banana sitter to be sure the fire didn't go out in the stove. The bananas were about the size of your little finger and cost about $4,000 each to grow, but what's a few bucks to a fanatic?

Bring on the weather. Here's to Fairbanks bananas.

Brought to you by Sun Dog Days. Read about it at www.unmpress.

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