Ask the folks at Sunset Meadows about gardening


A group of Sunset Meadows residents can explain exactly how a garden ought to grow.

Six residents of the senior citizen apartment complex have turned the back yard at Sunset Meadows I into a harvest land for vegetables and flowers. Last year, they grew so much produce they had to give it away to their neighbors across Ledford Street in Golden Meadows Apartments.

"You'd be surprised how fast they disappear. We just set some rhubarb out in the dining room, and it was gone before the room emptied out," Mary Jo Brown said.

The garden keeps the gardeners busy and brings them a sense of peace.

"I like to come out in the morning and just sit. I tell people that's my time with nature and God," Dorothy Cox said.

The gardeners tend their own plots. Cox and Maxine DeLong plant almost everything that can grow in Colorado. In her fourth year gardening at Sunset Meadows, Cox is trying pole beans and snow peas for the first time. She made the poles herself, out of spare wood and twine, copied from a picture she saw.

But in previous years of gardening, she also has had luck with radishes and corn, and last year she had so many green beans she said she didn't know what to do with them all.

George Riffle tried his hand at gardening for the first time this year, and his fellow gardeners insist his vegetables are coming along best. His carrots are growing in so thick he'll need to thin them soon, and the cucumbers soon may be in the same situation. He surrounded his vegetables with marigolds, which he said help keep the bugs away.

Riffle planted his garden the first week of May, and DeLong planted hers about two weeks later. It was too early, DeLong said. May's strong winds were hard on the plants.

"The wind's been bad on the vegetables. You water them, and in five minutes it looks like they haven't been watered for months," she said.

To combat the wind and protect the water, they've surrounded the tomato plants with green plastic. Water walls, they call them.

Last year, Brown planted late and had good luck. She's hoping history repeats itself because she waited for her sister to return from Florida before planting her vegetables. She's looking forward to planting onions, zucchini, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers and potatoes.

Riffles' radishes should be ready by mid-June, and DeLong thought she'd be harvesting tomatoes by mid-July. Sunset Meadows serves residents meals in the dining room, but some of the residents, such as Cox, like to prepare their own meals with their homegrown vegetables.

Judy Wheeler also plants a garden behind Sunset Meadows, and Jane Seilaff plants wildflowers and perennials on a plot near the building.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or

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