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Get outside and catch the gardening bug

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By Tom Woods
Agricultural Technician
Each year new people get the gardening bug. Maybe it’s the do-it-yourself movement or economics. No matter, it’s worth a try even if some disappointments are to be expected by even the most experienced gardeners.
If this is your year to dip your toe into freshly tilled soil, go for it. If your non-gardening friends try to discourage you, ask them the following questions:
What will you do instead that’s more important? Will it exercise your body and mind? Will it teach you patience and planning? Can you open a jar and taste/smell summer in the dead of winter because of it? Can you survive on it in the event of a disaster? Does it give you lessons in soil science, botany, biology, entomology, ornithology, microbiology, maybe even theology (watching a minuscule seed produce many pounds of food is more than just gee-whiz thought-provoking)? Can the residue of your labors be composted into rich humus?
Does it make you a weather junkie? Or more aware of the phases of the moon? Of the nuances of seasons within seasons?
Does it teach you the difference between a mole hill and a gopher hill and their dietary preferences? Will it teach you the difference between good bugs and bad ones? Does it bring into sharper focus the cycles of life, from the length of a summer evening to the thickly-populated microbial life in the soil?
Does it highlight the miracle of compost? Or the richness of simple foods? Is it quiet work that allows you to hear and watch the wildlife around you?
Does it force you deeper into cookbooks? Does it introduce you to new flavors? Does it improve your diet and well-being? Does it fill your house and plate with color and fragrances?
Can you juice, bake, fry, sauté, dry, can, freeze it or eat it raw? Can you walk out your back door and make a meal of it? Does it nourish your soul as well as your body?
Does it teach you self-sufficiency and how much we depend on others? Does it make you appreciate farmers? Does it illustrate the connectedness between local resources and people? Does it heighten your sense of community? Does it make you think about where the rest of your diet comes from, or what’s in it and on it?
Does it teach you to accept disappointment and celebrate the little things? Does it convince you that humans cannot control nature? Are you humbled by its lessons?
Does it give you quiet time with your thoughts while you work? Does it illustrate the parallels between nurturing the soil and nurturing relationships? And between the weeds in your garden and “weeds” in your life?
Does it provide you with hope and anticipation in winter and spring (when our best gardens bloom in our heads)? Exercise and discipline in summer? Satisfaction and security in fall and winter?
Can it feed you year-round?
Send your gardening questions or comments to: Brunswick County Master Gardener Column, P.O. Box 109, Bolivia, NC 28422, or call (910) 253-2610. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if requesting information or a reply. Answers may be printed in this column.