How Will Your Garden Grow?

A compost pile can do wonders for your garden.

“Vegetables, like everything else that lives, grow and need food. The minerals that plants need move into the plant root system with the water. … In many soils there are not enough of these minerals to enable plants to grow and do well, so they must be added to complete the diet of the vegetable plant. These additions are usually made in the form of some kind of fertilizer. …

“A compost pile in the corner of the garden can be used as a constant source of organic fertilizer. It also provides a place to put such waste materials as lawn clippings, leaves, and vegetable and fruit peelings.” (Getting Along with Your Garden, Brigham Young University: Benson Institute, 1977.)

To make a compost pile, spread out a layer of waste plant materials about six inches deep. For every ten square feet of this layer, add half a pound of commercial fertilizer containing nitrogen (or add two inches of manure, if preferred), and top it with an inch of soil and enough water to moisten but not soak it. Repeat the process until the pile is four or five feet high. Make sure the top of the pile is indented to form a basin for catching water—important if the pile is to work without an odor.

The temperature of the pile should be between 160° and 170° F., and the temperature can be measured by placing an ordinary thermometer into the top of the pile. If the temperature is too low, the pile is either too wet or too dry.

Woody materials added to the pile need to be shredded; in fact, shredding will help the decomposition of anything used. Do not use diseased plants, seeds and pits, weeds that have gone to seed, fat, or bones. These do not decompose quickly enough and may draw rodents.

This instruction—and more details—come from Getting Along with Your Garden, a brochure published by the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute, 473 Widtsoe Building, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602. Price: $1.00. Also available for the same price is a new Benson Institute pamphlet, Having Your Food Storage and Eating It, Too.

Gallery Toy Boxes

Need a place to display the overflow art masterpieces your children have created? I used the many, odd-sized, moving boxes we’d collected for toy boxes, pasting the children’s drawings on the outside as decorations. They were delighted. Their work is on constant display—and picking up toys isn’t nearly so unpleasant for them now. Janet Kruckenberg, Colfax, North Dakota

Double Duty from Telephone Time

The demands of a special church calling required many hours each day on the telephone. At first, while my mind was constantly on the spiritual needs of the sisters in our ward, my eyes were constantly drawn to my accumulating housework. Frustrations mounted. What was my solution? Doing two jobs at once.

Each time the phone rings, I pick up the long-corded kitchen extension and begin house cleaning. I straighten drawers, wash dishes, clean cupboards, mop and wax floors, and dust. Also, I now save my less urgent homemaking chores for a phone call and purposely place them by the phone or in a strategic closet. When I’m on the phone I fold diapers, shine shoes, polish silver, sew on buttons, knit, and crochet.

Another problem I had with the telephone was that its ring seemed to trigger the children’s misbehavior button. So I keep an interesting book or surprise activity in a drawer or closet near the phone. When one of the children becomes restless or demanding while I’m on the phone, I motion him to come and sit on my lap, and we flip through a picture album or story book, or I hand out sewing cards. Sometimes I gather restless children around the table (by motioning or excusing myself briefly) and hand out a surprise activity: play dough, finger paint, stickers to stick, old magazines and scissors, or even pencils and paper. Or I open a box of blocks, string beads, tinker toys, or play money and place it on the floor nearby.

Anyone with a telephone can use that telephoning time for her children or her home. Sandy Petty Hobbs, Arlington, Virginia

A Compliment from My Four Year Old

When my children and I were recovering from the flu, our four year old, the first to feel well again, was lonely for someone to play with. Since my miseries were complicated by a recent operation, I was definitely not up to handling complaints, and I finally said in desperation, “John, just go play by yourself in your room, please.”

Half an hour passed with no suspicious noises, and I became curious. I found John drawing pictures in his room, and my conscience began to prick me. Kneeling beside him, I took him in my arms and confessed, “I’ve been a pretty fussy mom today, haven’t I?”

He nodded.

“I didn’t mean to be, John. I just don’t feel well. But you’re much more important to me than my sore back or my cold, and I’m really sorry.”

He put his arm around me and smiled. “That’s okay, mom. I’m going to be really quiet now so you can rest.”

I gave him a hug. “I’m really proud of you for being so understanding, John.”

And then this loving four year old patted my shoulder in forgiveness and said, “I’m really proud of you for coming to talk to me, mom.” Jan Jansak Williams, Provo, Utah

Within Four Walls

“You’ll be back within two years,” scoffed some of my colleagues on the high school faculty. “You’ll get bored being just a housewife.”

“Just a housewife!” I exclaimed. “Why, we’re moving into a new home, my husband’s job is fantastic, and in three months we’ll have our first baby. No, I’ll never be back,” I laughed. I could not admit the apprehension I was trying to smother.

That fall when the school bells rang, I felt relieved to think I did not have to worry about new lesson plans for high school literature. I gazed at the baby boy in my arms and confirmed my inner thoughts that I was glad to be at home.

Fourteen months later, however, I lay in a hospital, torn by the fear of losing a premature daughter who was fighting for her life. I broke into sobs. The problems seemed overwhelming.

Through much faith and prayer and a priesthood blessing, our daughter miraculously joined us only ten days later. I thought this was the end of our worries, but it was only the beginning. Her fragile prematurity barred visitors. My husband was in a cast to his waist following surgery. Our baby had to be fed every three hours around the clock. She was so weak that she often took an hour to drink a quarter ounce of formula. The nights turned into nightmares—I would sometimes awaken, startled to find myself slumped over my baby, not knowing if I had missed a vital feeding. Counting the empty bottles on the nightstand was the only way I could assure myself we were on schedule.

I repeatedly asked myself why life had suddenly become so difficult.

I have since come to realize that my situation was not unique. At some time every mother feels overwhelmed. Fortunately, I had a husband who was sensitive to my frustrations. He communicated his appreciation for my willingness to stay in the home rather than pursue a career. But the mother in the home faces many anxieties. As one states:

“I had always felt that staying home and being a mother would mean time to work on creative projects. I now have very little time because my baby is so demanding. And money is scarce. Even if I did have the time, I have no money for projects. I have a strong conviction, however, that when a woman has a baby, she has the obligation to raise that child. A baby-sitter does not have an innate motherly love.”

And another, who taught French at a university, relates:

“Many of my career-oriented friends didn’t have children. It was difficult to have a baby, who took all my time. But through maturity I came to realize you cannot be a total person until you start thinking of someone else. There is a time and a season for everything.”

One of the frustrations of motherhood is that the rewards are often slow in coming. Thanks and appreciation may be seldom expressed. One mother of three says: “In a career you’re not taken for granted. You receive almost immediate rewards for your endeavors. A mother just receives reminders to do more. But the rewards I have experienced from three years of work and worry over an insecure daughter are far deeper than any reward I ever received in my career! I feel indispensable in my home. No other woman can do what I can for my children, because no other woman can love them as much.”

Clever mothers use various techniques to counter their frustrations. One mother says her good self-image is vital. Each morning she rises early to shower and dress before the daily routine begins. But the one trick that works for her is that she remembers to put on fresh makeup and perfume and she never forgets her earrings:

One mother who has successfully raised a large family shares her wisdom:

“A young Mormon girl must first get the vision of what being a mother really is. She must come to realize that this is the most creative career any woman can have. Hers is the greatest possible trust, for she has the opportunity to mold a spirit into the type of person our Eternal Father wants it to become. The greatest contribution a woman can give humanity is what she gives through the lives of her children.”

Another, who looks back with both joy and remorse, comments:

“At first my marriage was not really home oriented. I shrugged off the facts that I needed to stay home with my children by rationalizing that they would be fine with a good baby-sitter.

“Finally I gave up my career. But when my daughters were nearly teenagers and my two sons were two and three years old, I had an overwhelming desire to go back to work. I loved the feeling of again being out—and my work was very successful—but my home was falling apart. My oldest daughter seemed to need me more than ever, and my two year old would cry every morning and beg someone in the family to please stay home with him. He didn’t want to go to a baby-sitter.

“After hearing President Kimball plead with mothers to cease employment and return to their homes, I knew in my heart that I should be at home. I now get deep satisfaction from the look on my little boys’ faces when we do simple things together, and my heart aches when I realize what I missed with my daughters.”

Education is vital for a woman, for she educates generations. However, her training and knowledge may lure her away from the home at a time when she is crucially needed. The decision may seem difficult, but if she is willing to use her talents and knowledge to touch the lives of those entrusted to her by the Lord, she will know no greater joy than that found within the four walls of her own home. Karla C. Erickson, Bountiful, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer