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"Wow!” I bent down quickly to pick up the small paper envelope I found on the sidewalk. I was returning from school to the orphanage where I lived.

On the front of the package was a picture of some kind of an odd shaped red looking ball. It had real white insides and there were big red letters at the top of the package, which read "R-A-D-I-S-H.” I opened the package and sniffed the contents, but there was not much of an odor to it. I shook the little clumps out into my hand to see what they looked like up close. I carefully placed all the small bits back into the package, resealed it and put it in my pocket.

The next day, I took the package to school and asked Mrs. Cherry, my teacher, what the stuff was in the package? She told me they were radish seeds and would have to be planted in dirt in order to grow. Later that day, I returned to the orphanage and found an old wagon that had no wheels. I filled the wagon with dirt and planted the seeds all in a row just like my teacher told me. I planted the small seeds underneath the dirt and then watered them down real good with sulfur water.

Every day after school, I would go back to the orphanage, then out into the azalea bushes where I had the wagon hidden and look to see if anything was happening. About three days later, I saw the dirt starting to crack, like a big worm was moving around or something. Later on that afternoon, I returned and saw these little slender green things starting to come up through the cracks in the dirt.

"That is amazing," I said to myself. "HOW DOES THAT DO THAT?" I yelled aloud.

Over the next few days, I watched in amazement as the little green things came up through the dirt and got bigger and bigger. Boy, I sure wanted to peak and see if those little green leaves had big red balls growing on the ends of them. When I got back from school the next day, I ran out into the azalea bushes to water the little plants. I found the little red wagon turned over, and the dirt and radishes scattered all over the place.

I did my best to gather all the little plants in my hands so I could replant them in the wagon. I planned to hide them in another place so no one could find them. I re-planted the small plants back into the rusty old wagon and late that night, I sneaked out of the dormitory. I hid the wagon and radishes at the far end of the big field out by the bamboo bushes, so no one would find them. Earlier that evening, I had learned that Mr. Ball, our house parent, found the wagon and turned it over, because “it was a waste of good drinking water.”

For the next few days, I sneaked around and watered the small plants. But they just started looking weaker and weaker, and finally they just turned brown and died. One of the plants did have the little red ball on the end of it. I broke it off, washed it and then I ate it, and boy it was hot!

I never forgot my first garden or how Mr. Ball destroyed it. I guess that was a good lesson for me. Even though that was 49 years ago, I can now look back and see the kids, now adults, who were raised in that abusive Florida orphanage. I see clearly, what the problem was. Just like the little R-A-D-I-S-H-E-S, the kids were all pulled up by the roots too, long before they had a chance to grow and become strong enough to stand on their own. That explains why almost all of them are so sad and unhappy today.

Sometimes being a ‘good gardener’ goes far beyond just taking care of those beautiful tomatoes, cabbages, broccoli and squashes. Great gardeners also grow kind-hearted, well-mannered and loving children.

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