HJ/EDApril 24, 2006

Posustas take time for their gardens

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

They agree that they disagree about mulching.

Maybe even a small disagreement about the importance of the vegetable garden over the flower garden, too.

However, Ray and Rose Posusta show a mutual love for plant life, and they manage to squeeze it into their busy lives no matter what.

They moved into their present home in Cokato 10 years ago. In those few years, their home has become surrounded with flowers, and they have a large vegetable garden in the backyard.

They picked up a number of their gardening tips from farming back in 1950, at their first home, which was a 110- acre farm south of Howard Lake. They raised oats, alfalfa, corn, and soybeans. They also milked 32 cows, and raised chickens.

Daily life was very busy, but they still managed a vegetable garden.

“There was nothing I didn’t try to grow on the farm,” said Rose. She even tried to grow peanuts, but that was for only one year. They did raise rasberries and strawberries, which they sold.

In 1963, the Posustas had a house fire, and in order for them to recover, Ray went to work driving truck for a cement company in Howard Lake and Rose took over the farm. Rose continued the milking, raising crops, gardening, and her flowers.

“I took time to plant my flowers. My mother liked flowers; I got that from her,” said Rose.

The Posustas had five children, four boys and one girl. They stayed on the farm until 1968, when they decided that the work was just getting to be too much. They moved into their second home when their youngest child was 18 months old, and lived there for 27 years.

In 1995, they built their present home in Cokato where they worked together to set up a place to enjoy all of their hobbies. Both are into a number of crafts, many on display in their home. They have a large craft sale in the spring and fall, where they also sell seeds and bulbs from their flowers.

But gardening is definitely the priority in both of their lives. In their backyard vegetable garden, they raise carrots, radishes, onions, green beans, yellow beans, squash, cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes, and more, as well as grapes, red raspberries, and blackberries.

The Posustas have a number of suggestions for raising an abundance of vegetables, the first is working a compost mixture into the soil that is approximately three or four inches thick.

Both feel that the timing of planting is very important, too. Planting too early can cause loss of plants if it gets too cold. Some plants should not be planted until after Memorial Day.

Rainwater is a must. Ray catches the rain off of the roof of their home to water the garden. He said that soft water makes a difference.

Another suggestion is the use of drain tiles to protect young plants from the weather. They have picked up tiles at auctions, and also brought some with them from the farm. They put their tomato, cabbage, cucumber, and squash plants in them. The tiles anchor into the ground and absorb some of the sunlight to warm the young plants at the beginning of the planting season.

It is a great way to save on water, too, as all of the water is concentrated into just one spot and is directed at the roots of the plant. The Posustas remove the drain tile after the plants get stronger, except for the tomatoes. If they run out of drain tiles, they use milk cartons.

Other very important steps are weeding, keeping the ground loose, and using Miracle Gro plant fertilizer occasionally.

When it comes to their vegetable garden, Ray feels the work in the garden is well worth their efforts, “because we get good food that is better then the canned stuff,” and he gets “muscles.”

Posustas’ flower gardens

Rose plants flowers from her own seeds that she saved from the previous years or from bulbs that she dug up the previous fall. Her suggestion for having beautiful flowers: egg shells. She places egg shells in a watering can for all of their houseplants, adds water to them, and lets them sit for a few days to absorb the calcium.

Rose also buries egg shells close by all of her flowers outdoors. Again, timing is very important. She plants her Zinnias in April because they take awhile to grow. Her Dahlias are planted in May. Her tulips were already up before the last snowstorm.

Rainwater is also used on the flower garden, but Ray feels that flowers tolerate the harder water better then the vegetable garden. Rose believes that Miracle Gro plant food, used about once a month, gives her beautiful blooms.

She is excited for the planting season to start, and has been watching for some daffodils to appear. They are new to her garden this year, and she is hoping they did not freeze out over the winter.

Pictures of Posustas’ gardens show plants that have taken hours and hours of labor. “Flowers blooming, that is the reward,” said Rose, of all of her hard work.

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