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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Last Saturday was a perfect day-as far as my great day gauge goes. After a morning of shoveling mail, newspapers, and files off the kitchen table; swifting over television screens, book-shelves, and all things dusty; and doing a few loads of clothes, I headed outside for an afternoon of attitude adjustment-garden style.

To the roar of my trusty little tiller and dirt flying every-where, I burst into my finest rendition of Amazing Grace. In all honesty, the only time I allow myself to sing loudly is in the car, when I'm truly solo; or, when I'm running heavy-duty machinery like the tiller or lawn mower. Let's just say doing so is my contri-bution to the Keep American Beautiful program. Trust me-you never want me to ask Can you hear me now.

If I wasn't singing, I was talking-to myself. Yep, out loud. Hey, my daddy always said it was okay as long as I didn't tell myself a joke I had never heard.

During one of my conversations, I started sharing the valu-able lessons I've learned in the garden and there are MANY. So many, in fact, that I began thinking about writing one of those little self-help books that fits nicely on the back of the toilet tank. I even came up with the title, Everything I Needed to Know about Mid-Life, I Learned in the Garden. Or, if that doesn't work, I fig-ured I could go with The Real Dirt on Mid-Life.

Think about all the wealth of experience we wannabe gar-deners have acquired about life while striving to earn green thumb status, which I'll admit I've tried, unsuccessfully no doubt, to attain for neigh on mumble-cough-sputter years.

First off is preparation-and I'm not talking about prepara-tion with an H. I'm talking about groundwork and planning. Once the prep work is completed, you've got to set your sights and your seeds in an environment that you've worked to make worthy of your efforts.

All too often, I've gone at it half-heartedly-skipping a soil test in the garden or failing to test the waters in life. When things first emerge and start to grow, I'm eager and excited. I try to make time to weed out the undesirable and provide a nurturing environment for growth.

However, all too often, the enthusiasm and commitment wane and those darn weeds get a jump on me. Soon, I find my-self overwhelmed and trying to play catch-up. Then, just when I think I've conquered or at least controlled one type of weed, an-other pops up requiring a completely different strategy. Of course, there's also the constant threat of drought, disease, and pests.

I've hopelessly tried to fence in as well as fence out the varmints that vie for my produce and thyme. Eventually-if not sooner, my barriers are compromised.

And, let us not forget the need for support. Whether it's tomatoes, pole beans, or human beings, when things tend to get a bit weighty, it's crucial to have some support.

Of course, every good gardener knows that procrastinating or ignoring what needs to be done-whether sowing, nurturing, or harvesting-can spell disaster. Conversely, we all know just a few minutes on task each day can make a huge difference. Any-one know where I can get an extra day or two?

Amazingly, even the most inept gardener, which would be me, experiences unwarranted successes and surprises. For in-stance, on Saturday, I picked enough fresh spinach to make that man-of-mine and me two huge salads to go with our supper.

I planted the seeds in the early fall and although we did get a few pickings, the yield was nothing to brag about, for sure. Then, the drought and weeds moved in as did the critters. By mid-winter, I figured all was lost. Yet, when I brushed away those dead leaves on Saturday, the raised bed yielded a cover of young dark green leaves.

Yep, the garden is much like life. Just when you want to throw in the trowel, hope springs up and spirits are renewed. Reckon there's any chance this will be the year I keep up with the weeding and the watering? KNOTT MUCH.