06/12/07 — Heart attack changed his liefstyle ... and garden

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Heart attack changed his liefstyle ... and garden

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on June 12, 2007 1:45 PM

Nearly dying of a heart attack in 2005 changed Peter Stewart's life.

The former computer network specialist went without oxygen for 20 minutes. Doctors told his family he would be under hospital care the rest of his life. He awoke two months later and knew who he was.

And in January 2006, he left the nursing home to strike out on his own.

His doctor calls him his miracle man.

"I lost two or three years memory, but that's not the point," said Peter, who still deals with forgetfulness sometimes. "I'm a very blessed man, and I know it."

Today, the 47-year old Goldsboro man has traded his high-pressure job for a rake and hoe. He has terraced his back yard to grow various kinds of vegetables, and as an experiment and for rehabilitation, he grows vegetables out the bottoms of buckets with herbs and salad greens growing on top.

Now, when Peter visits friends -- he takes salads.

He said he learned about growing plants out of the bottoms of buckets through a friend who does organic gardening. He found directions on the Internet and created his own containers by cutting a 1.5-inch hole in the bottom of a bucket, placing the root ball in the whole, covering that with wet cardboard and then filling the container with dirt up to the bottom of the leaves of the plant.

He has 27 buckets in the air hanging from a frame in his back yard. The tomatoes are fruiting out the bottoms of the buckets.

"I believe it's a blessed garden. Everything says it should not grow. Well, it's flourishing. I'm able to give people zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and chives," he said.

When Peter is not in his garden, he spends time in the Family YMCA. The people there watch his progress. They're like family to him, and when he misses a day, they call and ask what's wrong.

He has lots of friends now. He said he just likes being around people.

That's a far cry from his earlier days when money and competition occupied his thoughts.

"I lived in want, always wanting more, more, more," he said, describing his days as a computer networking support man. "I lived in a material world. I wanted more, bigger. The world teaches you to never be satisfied."

Where he is right now, Peter Stewart is a contented man.

The heart attack and the journey back were the greatest awakening anybody could ever have, he said.

"I don't mind returning to the grind," he said. "But I don't want to lose sight of what has been given to me."