Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Freedom to Sow and Reap

One of my hobbies is gardening. It is very satisfying to plant something, nurture it to maturity, and then witness its flowers or pick its fruit. This requires a littany of knowledge and skills, including picking the proper plants, preparing the soil, watering and fertilizing, pruning, and more.

Some plants--such as vegetables and annuals--last only a season. Others--such as the lawn, ferns, roses, hibiscus, and azaleas--are ongoing projects. Each has its own special needs in regard to soil, water, and fertilizers. Each presents its own unique challenges, and each provides its own unique rewards.

When I purchased my home 10 years ago the yard was a barren waste land. It had been neglected for years and had little grass. There were no flowering plants. In the years since, my wife and I have slowly transformed it into an oasis that includes an extensive deck, a fish pond, and a multitude of plants. On any given day throughout the year, we will typically have from 5 to 12 different plants in bloom, even during the winter. At this time we have azaleas, hibiscus, bouganvillas, and a variety of sages in bloom.

Even though we live in the midst of the nation's fourth largest city, our gardens attract a variety of wildlife. We regularly see butterflys, hummingbirds, possums, and and a wide assortment of birds. We have seen budgies, armadillos, and egrets in our yard. Some of these sightings are more enjoyable than others. The egrets for example, ate many of our fish.

Several years ago I became interested in organic methods for improving our soil. My motivation was not concern for the environment, but improving our poor quality soil so that we could reap bigger and better benefits with less effort. I have since experimented with converting our abundance of leaves into compost, and have created numerous versions of a compost tea brewer. It has been fun to learn the biology of composting and then put that knowledge into beneficial practice.

The point of this story is quite simple: We have built our gardens because they bring us pleasure. We sowed so that we could reap. Whether it is a home grown tomato, or a fragrant rose, or witnessing hummingbirds swarm around the sage plants, there is great joy to be gained from such activities. The joys may be simple, and they may not appeal to all, but freedom allows each of us to sow the seeds that we desire, and reap the results that ensue.

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