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Gardening teaches us some great life lesssons

There are miracles in manure. Gardening has always been a form of relaxation and a source of pleasure for me. Creating a beautiful landscape is creative and fun. Picking the perfect plant is an art and a science. This year, I decided to try something different -- vegetables.

The recession has forced many people to be budget conscience and still eat healthy. The former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, had a victory garden in 1943, making them in vogue during World War II. She influenced 20 million homes. First lady Michelle Obama has similarly started a recession garden on the grounds of the White House. In patriotic fashion and as a Daughter of the American Revolution, I too have instituted my own groundbreaking experience in varied vegetable growth.

The cost for my hobby was inexpensive. Seeds cost between 20 cents and $3 per packet, but more exotic vegetation could prove more costly. A landscaper graciously ground my earth by rototilling my meddlesome tree roots. Horse manure cost $10 for 100 pounds. This barely covered my 12-foot-by-12-foot venture. Trellis for beans and pea plants cost between $2.50 and $6 each. The most expensive items were the wire fencing ($25) and chicken wire ($10) to save my lone sunflower from the rabbits that had devoured five of my six plants.

There are at least three life lessons to be learned from gardening:

Gardening allows you to be a positive example to your neighbors. Just as Roosevelt and Obama set examples for our nation, you could set an example for your neighborhood. I participated in the Samuel P. Capen Garden Walk, which is sponsored by the University at Buffalo in the University Heights and ECO area of my community. There was a get-together Friday evening in a participant's garage (despite the pouring rain), showings on Saturday and an opportunity to meet your competition on Sunday. Gardens improve property values, decease urban decay and force crime out of the neighborhoods because of civic pride. Unification deters crime. This is a miracle!

Gardening allows you to reap what you sow. If you plant tomatoes, you will reap tomatoes, not squash. If you want squash, you have to plant squash. Similarly, if you want a better job, you have to pursue a better job (by many different means).

If you give a man a fish, you have fed him for the day. If you teach a man to fish, you have fed him for a lifetime. Gardening has the same concept. Regular sowing will keep plants blooming, if you keep picking. Another trick is successive planting -- replacing harvested plants with new crops. This multiplies your yield. A 30-foot-by-30-foot garden can sustain one person for one year. This is a miracle!

Gardening reminds you that size does not matter. A small effort may yield big results, while no effort yields no results. A small seed may yield a very prolific plant, i.e. the tomato. I am enjoying major success with green beans and peas, but these are larger seeds. These types of seeds are what we give our children to start gardening.

This reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed. If you have the faith of a mustard seed -- the smallest seed around -- you can move mountains. But if you plant that mustard seed, you will have a very large, sturdy tree for birds. Gardening teaches patience, perseverance (lots of watering) and love (tending to a living thing). Almost my entire garden was planted from seeds. This is a miracle!

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