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Mountains of petunias, all started from seed, highlight one section of Jeremy and Angie Berg's lush, colorful garden at 717 18th St. N.W., the Front Yard Garden of the Week. Pioneer Photo/Laurie Swenson

Family's lush garden starts from seeds

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Wow.

When I turned the corner onto 18th Street Northwest, there was no question in my mind which home had been selected as this week's "Front Yard Garden of the Week."

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In fact, the show-stopping wave petunias in Jeremy and Angie Berg's yard have expanded to three front yard gardens, all located next to each other on the same block. In addition to the front yard gardens, the Berg family had so many wave petunias they have been put in large ground pots and hanging pots, bringing the three contrasting colors -- cherry, silver and dark purple -- from the street up to the home and front porch. Wow -- this front yard garden has color impact. Drive, walk or bike by 717 18th St. N.W. this week and you will see what I mean.

Jeremy and Angie Berg built their home about seven years ago. The Bergs' home and landscaping is both well designed and maintained. Their front yard is a combination of thick lush lawn, foundation plantings around the house and along the driveway, and large annual beds at the front of the property on the street. They have also planted numerous apple trees throughout their yard, which the city deer find irresistible. The front of the Bergs' home and yard faces south and gets sun all day, producing spectacular results. The large front yard garden beds flanking both sides of the driveway are packed with petunias, but also include yellow and orange marigolds, profusion pink zinnias and tall yellow sunflowers rising at the back of the planters.

The most amazing part of this story is that Jeremy and Angie Berg, together with their three young children, started all the plants by seed in their basement and did not have to buy a single plant!

Their three children, Damaris, 7, Hans, 6, and Gracia, 3, have helped every step of the way. The children spread the itsy-bitsy petunia seeds onto one solid bed of good seed starting mix that Jeremy picked up at a local greenhouse. Then, once the seeds are sprouted and rooted, the kids carefully transplanted the plants to their own cells in seed starting trays. Jeremy was in charge of the lighting for the seed starting, which he said he would run about 16-18 hours a day. The Bergs produced all of their own zinnias and marigolds, about 300 petunia plants and 375 hot pepper plants from seed.

The three Berg children also help their parents with the planting, weeding, watering and deadheading all summer long.

I signed up to interview this family because they were described as "propagators." I am a beginner at propagation, but I find it a fun and challenging aspect of my gardening. Propagation by seed is a great way to jump-start your spring, produce lots of plants for yourself and others and experiment with new flowers and vegetables.

The Bergs haven't expanded their gardens to include any perennials yet, so I left them with three of my tried and true Bemidji-hardy perennials --lamb's ear, purple coneflower, and liatris -- to get them started. These three perennials will expand and self-seed new plants if left alone. That is propagation at its finest -- just sit back and let nature do the work. I also intend to drop off some of my collected flower seeds for them to start, along with additional information from the University of Minnesota Extension Service on propagation.

While I was interviewing this family, all three kids were busy carefully collecting the delicate seedpods containing the tiny seeds from the petunias so that they will have plenty of seeds for next year!

Information about propagation and other aspects of gardening can be found by starting at the Beltrami County Master Gardener Web site, www.beltramicountymastergardeners.org. Our Web site has local articles by master gardeners, information about current events, lots of neat photos, and links to the University of Minnesota Extension Web site and others. Verna Jackson, a Beltrami County master gardener, is our self-taught webmaster and has done an excellent job of creating and maintaining our busy organization's Web site. Visit our site today.

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