Gardener tells how he grows fruits of his labors


IT'S THAT TIME of year when many residents begin to plan their gardens. For most of us, that means a few rows of beans, tomatoes and such.

But for Uniontown resident Melvin Fritz, gardening is an art form. Fritz has been gardening since 1944, the year he and his wife, Dottie, got married.

His is no ordinary garden. The 70-foot-by-40-foot plot is plowed and ready for planting. As in years past, Fritz will plant potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, lima beans, green beans, spinach, red beets, cabbage, lettuce, peppers and melons.

"The soil is so rich that when I stick a seed in the ground I have to stand back," Fritz said, referring to the speed at which plants grow in his garden.

Fritz, the town's barber, said he enjoys the toils of gardening. "I like to see things grow," he said.

"He likes to eat things," Dottie added with a laugh.

But the key to planting a garden the size of Fritz's is spacing the crops so that all the vegetables don't mature at one time. This is especially critical with corn, he said. He plants corn, then waits a few weeks before planting a second crop.

While his garden gives him much pleasure, the apples of his eye are his fruit trees.

''I've got too many of them," he said.

Fritz has apple, peach, apricot, plum and sour cherry trees. Like his vegetable plants, his trees bear fruit at different times. Peaches are ready in mid-August, while the apples bear fruit much later.

Fritz said anyone considering a fruit tree should plan to spend a lot of time on its care. The trees should be trimmed this time of year, before buds and blossoms emerge.

"Apples you need to trim now, and peaches in March," Fritz said. "You should trim well enough that you can throw a hat through the center."

Grapevines also should be trimmed now, he said.

The trees need spray, too.

"You should be using a dormant spray on the trees when the blossoms first start to come out," Fritz said.

The trees also should be sprayed once a month with regular fruit spray throughout the summer, he said. The spray keeps out borer bugs, which bleed the trees.

"If you're not going to spray fruit trees, I advise you not to buy them," Fritz said.

Frost is an enemy. One year, Fritz recalled, a particularly bad frost was expected. To combat it, he sprayed the blossoms with water, which created ice bulbs around the blossoms. That ice bulb insulation protected the blossoms and saved the crop.

He offers advice to new gardeners.

"You have to work at it and you have to keep the weeds out," Fritz said.

Lions breakfast

Taneytown Lions Club will hold an all-you-can-eat breakfast from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 16 at the carnival grounds building next to Memorial Park.

The menu will include eggs to order, pancakes, sausage, pudding, hominy and sausage gravy.

"Proceeds from our spring breakfast are directed toward support of the local Little League," said Claude Elmore Jr., a Lions member.

The cost is $4.50; $2.50 for children age 6 to 12; and free for children younger than age 6. Information: 410-751-1120.

Oyster and ham supper

Grace United Church of Christ will hold a fried chicken, ham and fried oyster supper at noon Saturday at Taneytown Activities Building.

The suppers will include string beans, parsleyed potatoes, corn, beets, applesauce, pepper slaw and rolls.

The cost is $11; $4.50 for children ages 5 to 12; and free for children younger than age 5. Homemade baked goods will be for sale. Information: 410-756-2302.

FSK alumni dance

The Francis Scott Key High School Alumni Association (Class of 1995) will hold a dance from 6 p.m. to midnight March 16 at Union Bridge Fire Hall.

A fried shrimp and turkey dinner will begin at 6 p.m. Dancing will begin at 8 p.m. The cost is $20 for the dinner and dance; $15 for the dinner; and $10 for the dance.

Information: 410-848-2735.

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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