Ruining the Backyard Grass
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“Ruining the Backyard Grass,” Friend, Aug. 2001, 4

Ruining the Backyard Grass

A true story

The prophet said to plant a garden, so that’s what we’ll do (Children’s Songbook, page 237).

A loud, whirring noise broke into the game Debbie and her little sister, Becca, were playing with their dolls. The sound was coming from the backyard. Debbie and Becca looked wide-eyed at each other and left the dolls, clothes, and furniture made from shoe boxes to run outside.

When they came to the backyard, they stopped and stared at the curious sight. Daddy was there with a strange machine the size of a lawn mower. It was ripping up the beautiful green grass of the backyard and leaving only ugly brown dirt behind.

“What is he doing?” Becca asked. Debbie didn’t answer. She could only shake her head and run to the kitchen to find Mommy.

Mommy had just finished peeling potatoes and was cleaning the peelings out of the kitchen sink. When Debbie stood beside her quietly sobbing, she stopped and asked, “What on earth is the matter? Are you hurt?”

Debbie swallowed her sobs and pointed to the backyard. “Why is Daddy ruining the grass?”

Mommy sighed with relief. “Oh, is that what’s bothering you?” She placed her hands on Debbie’s shoulders. “Honey, the prophet said that we need to plant a garden. He told us at the last general conference. So Daddy borrowed that tiller, and we’re going to obey the prophet and plant a garden.”


“I don’t know why the prophet wants us to. I guess he wants everyone to be self-sufficient.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means to be able to take care of ourselves. If we’re hungry, we can feed ourselves.”

Debbie sighed loudly as she went to the counter and sat on a stool. “Can’t we just go to the store?”

“No, we need to learn to follow the prophet—like the Saints that came across the plains. When they did what the prophet told them, they were blessed and they were able to bless others, too.”

Debbie looked at her mother but didn’t say anything. She knew that Daddy and Mommy had made up their minds.

Their backyard would no longer be a wonderful place to play. Now over half of it would be a big brown spot with garden plants, weeds, and bugs. She slid off the stool and went to her bedroom.

“Don’t worry, Debbie,” Mommy called after her. “I’m sure that we’ll have lots of blessings for following the prophet, too.”

In her room, Debbie just sat on her bed. Her dolls didn’t even look fun to play with anymore. Everything was ruined. She would never have fun at home again.

“Daddy says we’re going to plant carrots and corn, and I get to help with the weeding,” Becca chirped happily when she came into the bedroom.

Debbie frowned at her.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Becca told her. “Daddy says there’s nothing better for growing bodies than fresh vegetables from the garden. He said he always had plenty of them when he was a little boy.”

“I’ll bet it’s the worst stuff we’ve ever eaten.” Debbie got off the bed and began putting away her dolls.

Becca quietly watched her for a minute, then asked, “Don’t you want to play anymore?”

“I never want to play anything again!” Debbie stuffed the last doll into a box and pushed it under the bed. She lay down and buried her face under her pillow, hoping anything Becca had to say wouldn’t come through the soft down.

“I’ll bet one day you’ll be glad we have a garden.”

Debbie pretended that she hadn’t heard and held as still as if she were sound asleep. She hoped that Becca wasn’t right. She hoped that she would always hate the garden and what it had done to the beautiful grass.

But as the weeks went by, Debbie began to change her mind. Tiny carrot plants with feathery leaves were beginning to grow in a straight row, and beside them grew beans with dark green leaves shaped like hearts. She had to admit to herself that she did like to see the plants grow bigger and bigger. It was even fun to pull the weeds and pretend that they were terrible beasts trying to steal all the water and food from the tender little plants.

Daddy showed her how to carefully water each row with the hose turned low so that the ground could soak up plenty of moisture and not be washed away.

Once, while she was supposed to be weeding, she pulled a pea pod from the vine and carefully opened it. Tiny round peas were inside. She tasted one. It was the best-tasting pea she had ever had.

“I saw that!” Becca ran up behind her.

Debbie whirled around. Seeing that she was caught, she held out the pod for her sister to try a pea.

Becca tasted one, and her eyes lit up. “Wow! Those are good!”

Debbie nodded. “I never thought peas could taste good enough to eat,” she admitted.

“So are you glad we have a garden?”

Debbie looked down and smiled. “I guess so.”

Several weeks later, Debbie learned to be really grateful for the garden. Daddy’s company had some trouble, and many of its employees lost their jobs. Daddy was one of them. He didn’t know how long it would be before he could find another job.

“It sure is a good thing we planted that garden,” Mommy remarked at the dinner table one evening. “Without it, we wouldn’t have any food to bottle and save for winter.”

“You mean we would be hungry?” Debbie asked in surprise.

“No.” Her mother shook her head. “We would just not be eating as well. Thanks to the garden, we haven’t had to buy as much food, and I’ve been saving some money. Now that we’re not sure when we’ll be getting any more, it’s a good thing we saved extra.”

“We have more food and extra money, all because of the garden,” Daddy explained. “This is a testimony to me that the Lord certainly does bless us when we follow the counsel He gives us through His prophet.”

“Yes,” Mommy added, “I knew He would bless us—I just didn’t think it would be this soon.”

Debbie quietly nibbled at an ear of corn. She was glad that her parents had decided to follow the prophet. She knew that if they hadn’t, their family wouldn’t have been blessed with the things they needed. She went to bed that night with a full stomach and a happy heart, knowing that the Lord had watched over her family and He was blessing them because they listened to the prophet.

Family Preparedness

By President Spencer W. Kimball

President Spencer W. Kimball

We call upon Latter-day Saints everywhere to strengthen and beautify the home with renewed effort in these specific areas: food production, preservation, storage; the production and storage of nonfood items; fixup and cleanup of homes and surroundings. …

We encourage you to grow all the food that you … can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard. Even those residing in apartments or condominiums can generally grow a little food in pots and planters. …

Make your garden … neat and attractive as well as productive. If there are children in your home, involve them in the process with assigned responsibilities.
(Ensign, May 1976, page 124.)

Illustrated by Brad Clark