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Garden planning now can warm your winter-time blues


It's been a relatively mild winter so far, but the chances we'll escape some season weather are slim.

And there's nothing that'll warm the soul on a cold, gray, drizzly and damp winter day than browsing the latest seed catalogs and planning this year's garden.

Most of the popular seed catalog companies have also embraced the Internet, and you can browse a World Wide Web version of their annual printed editions.

My wife and I have been discussing this year's garden at length, and with our home computer and the Internet, it's been an enjoyable diversion to do some early planning of our garden.

BURPEE. I can remember hearing my dad talk about the volume of seed catalogs he delivered on his rural mail route in the late wintertime, and the company name he mentioned most often was Burpee.

With its history dating back to 1876, the Burpee company's catalog has long been the bible of seed catalogs. The company's Web site (www.burpee.com) is an excellent resource for gardeners of all skill levels.

The online catalog is broken down into sections devoted to vegetables, flowers, and other garden plants and gardening supplies and products.

Burpee's Web site also highlights its latest offerings, which include some tantalizing garden fare: How about "Orange Sunshine Watermelon," a seedless melon that is orange inside, or my favorite, "Ruby Queen Sweet Corn," a deep red sweet corn variety.

The site is completely searchable, and includes numerous ways to request the Burpee print catalogs. (I highly recommend the Burpee Heirlooms catalog -- a collection of "old-time" garden treasures, including multi-colored tomatoes and heirloom varieties of popular perennials.)

JOHNNY'S. Albion, Maine-based Johnny's Selected Seeds provides seeds and plants to both commercial and home gardens.

The company offers separate catalogs in print. On the Web, the company lists content from both catalogs, meaning you'll find items for sale there not in the regular print version.

Johnny's print catalog is chock full of data about growing the seeds and plants they offer. Fortunately, the Web site duplicates most of this information as well.

Visit Johnny's on the Web at www.johnnyseeds.com.

STARK BROS. "Stark Trees Bear Fruit" may be their slogan, but Stark Brothers' Web site is anything but stark.

Thanks to the stewardship of previous owners, my family and I have a home with cherry, pear and apple trees, and last year we had plenty of all three.

If you've considered buying fruit trees or raising your own berries, Stark Bros.' Web site is a must-see.

While I won't be adding fruit trees this year, Stark Bro.'s variety of thornless blackberry looks like it would be a great addition to our garden.

Visit Stark Bros. Web site at www.starkbros.com.

WINDOWS UPDATE. Microsoft's plans to merge its consumer computer operating system (Windows 95/98) with its upcoming Windows NT 5.0 operating system seems to be on hold for now.

Windows NT -- which is aimed at business and corporate world -- and Windows 95/98 have required separate development and support teams. This duplication of effort comes at a hefty price, even for Microsoft.

In response, the company has been planning for some time to eventually merge the two product lines. It was reported in the column early last November that the next version of Windows for both consumers and corporate users would be version of Windows NT 5.0 -- and renamed Windows 2000.

But the targeted release date for the corporate version of Windows NT/2000 continues to slip, and so does the plan to merge the parallel operating systems.

Microsoft is currently focusing on getting its corporate version of Windows NT 5.0/Windows 2000 finished. At that point, developers will work on a consumer version.

In the meantime, it appears Microsoft will be releasing new OEM releases and Service Packs of the Windows 98 operating system.

For the latest news from Microsoft, visit the company's Web site at www.microsoft.com.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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