Gardeners eager to plunge their hands into the soil are finding Mother Nature fickle this year as she blows cold, warm, then wet. But not every gardener is subject to the whims of weather.
Grow your plants indoors, as Gari Christensen, 74, owner of Granny's Grow Shop in Richland does, and weather isn't an issue. Her new store, which stocks supplies to grow plants indoors, opened last month.
"The lovely part of growing indoors is you can have fresh tomatoes and lettuce all year," she said.
Christensen has always had an interest in gardening. Living in Vancouver, Wash., years ago, she grew azaleas, bedding plants and veggies in greenhouses. Christensen said she always has had a large vegetable garden.
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Yet she made nursing her career.
"I got my start in nursing at Columbia Basin College, and I love it here in the Tri-Cities, though I've traveled all around. I was in Saudi Arabia for a while and helped set up an open heart unit and lived in Phoenix for a few years," she said.
But after decades of working on her feet for hours on end, she said her joints won't allow her to dig in the dirt outside anymore. After several surgeries on her legs, Christensen retired from nursing and headed for warmer climates.
"I lived in Belize for a while, but I got bored and came back to the Tri-Cities in 2004," she said.
She tried raised beds but decided she wasn't interested in gardening in the hot sun and wind anymore. That's when she switched to indoor gardening.
Researching indoor soil and hydroponic growing systems, Christensen found there wasn't a lot of information or equipment available.
"So I thought, why not open a store?" she said.
She opened Granny's Grow Shop on March 16 at 1625 Columbia Park Trail in Richland. The store is directly across from Bateman Island.
She has one employee, Clay Lomey, her store manager and "strong back."
The store stocks the supplied needed to grow indoor plants -- trays, lights and nutrients -- but not the plants and seeds. For those, you'll need to visit a conventional gardening store.
She also has a selection of books and other information on growing plants indoors and how to diagnose plant diseases and treat them.
Christensen and Lomey have set up a green room inside the shop with soil-based and hydroponic systems.
"It's where I play with my plants anymore. I love it. I grow tomatoes, peppers, flowers, herbs, everything," she said. "It's also where we test equipment and nutrients. It helps us get a good handle on what to use, how to help our customers."
"We're not just here to sell, we're here to educate," she said, adding that a lot of their research is on the shop's website, www.granysgrowshop.com.
Store hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment on Sunday. Phone: 509-619-0595.