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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jean Godden

Green-Thumb Guv Grows A Good Garden

Times Staff Columnist

Ask Gov. Gary Locke how his garden grows and stand way, way back. You'll hear a report glowing enough to retire Bonneville Dam. You may also have to duck surplus zucchini.

Locke, known for his home improvement skills (plumbing, gardening and carpentry), installed a showcase vegetable garden outside the Governor's Mansion this spring. He built raised beds along the mansion drive and draped them in netting to discourage rabbits and deer.

"We started late," Locke says, sounding like a farmer leaning on his tractor. "It was almost June before we had the garden fully planted."

He's growing onions, sweet peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, pumpkins and - here's something unusual for this area - honeydew and crenshaw melons. Oh, yes, and tons of zucchini.

While it hasn't been the best year for gardens, the governor has a secret: clear plastic.

Here's how it works. He starts his melon seeds indoors. Then he positions a 3-foot square of plastic on the ground, cuts a slit in the middle and transplants the seedlings in their peat pots.

"The plastic creates a greenhouse effect," says Locke.

The governor expects to harvest about a dozen melons. He already has sampled one that fell off the vine. His verdict: green, but very sweet.

Locke often gets an assist from 2-year-old Emily Locke. First lady Mona Lee Locke sometimes comes down to supervise, carrying baby Dylan.

It's an idyllic picture. But what about the groundskeepers? Don't they mind someone on their turf?

"I think they like it, Locke says. "Most of them have home gardens. We swap tips, and one of them brings me onion sets."

Lite the way: The Rev. Stephen Sundborg, Seattle University president, met with Seattle Times editorial writers last week. Father Sundborg described the student body at the Jesuit school as only 40 percent Catholic.

"How do you intend to market yourself to new students?" asked one of the editorialists.

Father Sundborg said he recently had heard a radio station identify its programming as "country lite" and took it to mean the station has a broad definition of country music. At a time when the Vatican is scrutinizing Catholic institutions, he said his university is taking a broader approach. In Sundborg's words: "Catholic lite."

Campaign contribution: Port Commission candidate Bob Edwards had his elementary-age daughter Miranda with him when he greeted fans at the

Seahawks game Sunday. Miranda took along her violin and was playing in front of the Kingdome, competing with street musician Richard Peterson.

Passers-by started tossing coins into her violin case. No word yet on whether Edwards plans to report Miranda's earnings to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Excess reasoning: Yesterday, Tim Eyman, the force behind I-695 (the initiative that reduces car licenses to $30), was debating Mike Vasca of the no-on-695 campaign before a Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Eyman was asked why business people would want to support I-695. His response: "Employees may not be asking for a raise with these extra bucks in their pockets."

Jean Godden's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail address: jgodden@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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