Before you answer that call, remember a few tips. Wayne McLaurin, a horticulturist with the University of Georgia Extension Service, saysyou don’t have much choice. Gardening is a rite of spring. McLaurin figures the reason gardening is by far the No. 1 hobby in the nation, ahead ofgolf, fishing or anything else, is that it’s relaxing. Gardens range from the common “garden” variety of standard vegetables to specialtygardens for herbs, giant tomatoes, exotic plants, ornamental shrubs or showy flowers. “And talk to other gardeners,” McLaurin says. “They’ll give you more advice than youneed. Just ask.” “It’s a habit for some folks,” McLaurin says. “Lots of people grew up farming andgardening. It’s what you do in the spring. It’s a natural occurrence after being cooped upinside so long. You just have to go outside and get in touch with the soil.” “Everybody has some innate desire to see something grow,” McLaurin says,” even if it’sjust an African violet on the window sill. You can’t escape spring’s call.” Once nature calls, the rewards are bountiful. Why do people garden? Talk to your county Extension Service agent. Pick up plenty of extension publicationsabout gardening, landscaping and other spring tasks. “We all get frustrated sitting behind a desk all day,” he says. “To see something grow andproduce a flower or fruit is extremely relaxing. Pulling weeds and tending delicate plantsforces you to slow down and notice the little things. And it burns up calories. Gardening isgood for both physical and mental well-being.” “People garden because they want the fresh produce,” McLaurin says. “You havecomplete control over chemical use, composting, etc. And there’s nothing better thanhome-grown tomatoes straight off the bush.” Georgia gardeners enjoy the luxury of being able to grow just about anything. The volumeand variety a good gardener can reap from a plot of Georgia soil is nothing short ofamazing, McLaurin says. Don’t believe all the seed catalog’s claims. Buy reputable plants grown locally so they’readapted to your area. When the birds call and the daffodils bob in the first warm breeze, do you get anuncontrollable urge to dig in the dirt? The first gardeners weren’t escaping the office or trying to unwind. They had to garden tofeed themselves and their families. Today’s gardeners can stop by the grocery store and get fruits and vegetables fromthroughout the world. Why go to the time, trouble and expense of gardening?