By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Carlton gardener enjoys ‘assisting life’ of seeds and plants

Marcus Larson/News-Register##Wearing a mask to speak with reporters, gardener Ron Gometz shows the various starter plants he has growing in the greenhouse behind his Carlton home.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Wearing a mask to speak with reporters, gardener Ron Gometz shows the various starter plants he has growing in the greenhouse behind his Carlton home.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Ron Gometz likes to plant in whimsical and recycled containers. On of his favorite plantings is in an old tire.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Ron Gometz likes to plant in whimsical and recycled containers. On of his favorite plantings is in an old tire.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Ron Gometz of Carlton is starting vegetables for his own family and his neighbors, many of whom are gardening for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.
Marcus Larson/News-Register##Ron Gometz of Carlton is starting vegetables for his own family and his neighbors, many of whom are gardening for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic.

Seedlings of all sorts poke their delicate stems and leaves from tiny pots in Ron Gometz’s greenhouse.

“I’m assisting life,” said Gometz, who lives in Carlton with his wife, Megan, and daughter, Charli.

Some of the tomatoes, summer squash, sugar-snap peas, pumpkins, beans and borage will end up in his own garden, which encompasses raised beds and pots in both the front and back yards.

But many of the seedlings will mature in other locations around Carlton. Gometz offers free plants to his neighbors from a stand in his front yard on weekends, though donations are welcome, with the money going toward soil and seeds so he can raise more plants to give away.

With so many people staying home, many of them out of work, they could do with some gardening, Gometz said.

Growing plants will give them something to do and get them outside in the fresh air, he said. And the vegetables will help them stay healthy.

Gardening certainly makes Gometz feel positive.

“It’s my passion. I love plants; it’s an honor to work with plants and share my skills” he said.

Gometz served in the Marine Corps and is now a disabled veteran. Growing things is therapeutic for him, he said.

He and his wife believe in “going full circle” with their gardening.

“We like to have a native and edible yard,” she said.

The chickens they keep for eggs also provide nutrients for their plants. Water from the koi pond gives the chickens a drink -- and often their dogs, too. They also use the pond water to give their flowers a drink.

The couple grows cover crops in the garden soil, then turns them over to replenish nutrients. And they compost scraps and clippings, too.

Their plants and produce are organic, although they aren’t certified.

“Chemicals are bad for the ground and for us,” Ron Gometz explained. “I love worms and I hate chemicals.”

Trained as a diesel mechanic, learned about plants by growing things and searching for gardening tips on the internet. He worked as a grower professionally for a short time, but decided he would rather work with succulents and garden plants on his own.

Gometz especially loves succulents, which mostly take their moisture from the air. He has numerous varieties inside and out. Some are nestled against other plants in the flower beds; others are in whimsical containers -- more than a dozen peek out from the bottom of an old dish pan, looking like a living sculpture.

Ron will find a way to plant succulents in any unusual vessel, said his wife, who affectionately calls him “Trash MacGyver.”

Their daughter has her own succulent garden. Decorated like a village, it thrives in a red wagon.

Charli has entered it in several fairy garden contests over the years.

“She has the green thumb, too,” Megan Gometz said.

Ron Gometz planned to grow and sell succulents at farmers markets this year. He wanted to continue renting indoor plants, a business he’d started last year by providing greenery for the Bit by a Fox Traveling Speakeasy, based in Carlton.

With the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, though, he changed his plans. He decided to focus on vegetable gardening, instead.

No matter what, he said, he wanted to grow plants.

“Gardening is my go-to,” he said. “It brings me peace and joy.”

 

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