The third week lesson for the Relief Society in January, 1914 included a twenty minute discussion on home gardening. After an overview of some plants and soils that included the use of some Utah State Extension supplied instructional materials, the lesson outlined a brief sermon on the spiritual ramifications of gardening:
Those who eat without labor are the sick ones of this earth. Some people work at that which hath no profit; but the man or woman who works — with head and hand — in the earth, bringing forth seed and fruit, flower and vegetation, develops forces which bring health, happiness, upward growth of character and joy unspeakable.
When the pioneers settled these western vales, Brigham Young told the people to choose one acre and a quarter, which was enough ground to grow sufficient fruit and vegetables for the family to become independent. Not taking land which would not be cultivated and profitable, but enough for the raising of summer and winter vegetables for the family’s use, while the beautifying of the home with flowers was as faithfully taught. Few men and fewer women are so closely occupied that one hour in the early dawn could not be given to the planting of a flower and vegetable garden about the home. If parents and children united in this love-labor, no home lot would be too small, none too large, in city or country, for the cultivation of few or many such valuable adjuncts to the family life. How is it today? Let each answer this question city or in country. How much land have you about your home place? How much of a flower garden have you? How many vegetables do you raise? (RS Bulletin vol. 1, no. 1, pg. 9)
While in grad school, I remember hearing that the Bishop received a letter from the powers that be that anyone who received assistance from the ward was required to have a garden, even if it was a small box in the window. My mind raced back to my childhood, where I lived President Kimball’s dream of grow boxes and a chimera of inorganic gardening and granola. Again from the Society:
Gardening for women pays. It brings you in close contact with mother earth, keeps you young and spry, drives out blues and melancholy, brings the dawn and the stars to your doorstep, and opens an easy channel between you and your Heavenly Father and Mother. They were the first gardeners. It may not pay you to raise vegetables to sell in country towns, but it will give you the wealth of the land in your own homes, it will build up your shattered nerves, and above all, it will teach your children habits of thrift and industry, if you will gather them about you in your gardening, there will be a companionship grow up between you and your dear ones that pays large dividends of affection. Children should be taught to raise flowers and vegetables as they are taught to raise standards and flags. (ibid. pg. 10)
This is the first year that we fielded our own plants. Nothing like my parents grand travail. They only purchase meat, eggs and dairy in the summer. Just three tomato plants, some strawberries, carrots and a cucumber. The cucumber failed during our vacation.
I haven’t received a revelation as I weeded, but I believe that I yet will.