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Garden rewards bountiful

Sunday is National Gardening Day, but for me, every day is gardening day.

The idea behind the national observance is to encourage gardeners and those who would like to become gardeners to plant some seeds and kick off a year of homegrown goodness.

According to event organizers, gardening is a satisfying pastime you can enjoy for decades, not just at harvest time. They say growing your own food lets you provide fresh and natural nourishment for your family at a fraction of grocery store prices. While that may be true in other areas of the country, the need for irrigation systems and water here in Southern Nevada might wash out that equation.

Still, there’s something joyful about watching vegetables, herbs and fruit growing in your yard. There’s even more joy when you eat them. They taste so different than store-bought fruits and vegetables. The flavors seem more intense, just like Mother Nature intended them to taste like.

Last year, I had an abundance of tomatoes. In fact, the red, juicy fruit were so enticing, a critter of some type — or maybe more than one — set up housekeeping in the middle of my garden and nibbled quite regularly on my tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

Though I was able to enjoy the majority of what I grew, I promised my husband I would let the garden go fallow this year and be content to harvest the fruit off the trees in our tiny orchard.

But, the promise of a free tomato plant from a nursery sent me to the store and home with an assortment of herbs and vegetables - albeit a smaller selection than what I planted last year.

I couldn’t help myself.

For me, going out to the garden each day is therapeutic. It may sound silly, but I talk to the plants, encouraging them to grow. Oddly enough, they seem to respond.

Last year, my tomato plants grew so much they were as tall as I was and there was absolutely no division between the plants. I had so many tomatoes, I was coming up with new ways to serve them daily and sharing with my friends and co-workers on a regular basis.

My peach and apricot trees were just as productive. I made jam and pies, some of which are still in the freezer.

This year is looking promising as well. I already have a few tomatoes and blooms on my plants and my fruit trees are overflowing with fruit.

I’m just hoping what’s there stays put. I don’t know why early spring, just as the fruit is setting, has to have at least one wind storm with 50 mph gusts.

I went out to check on my trees Tuesday evening and found what appeared to be half of my plums on the ground. I was devastated and heartbroken. I didn’t have the courage to check Wednesday morning and know I will be saddened when the wind dies down and I have to pick up all the tiny plums that didn’t survive.

There were a few apricots, too, big ones. But overall, they seem hardier.

The wind also damaged one of the tomato plants, breaking a limb on the cage that was designed to support and protect it.

Maybe the storm was just a way to get me to spend more time in the garden — nature’s way of inviting me to provide a little more TLC, coaxing and encouragement for the plants and trees.

For those who don’t have a yard to plant a garden, there are options. Container gardens, pots on the window sill and the town’s community garden are all excellent options and each will provide the same type of joy when harvest season comes around.

If you have no interest or time to invest in planting and tending to a garden of your own, please make time Sunday to celebrate National Gardening Day by visiting a garden of your choice. You’re bound to reap bountiful rewards.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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