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Gardening in the Sims 3 is a skill for planting seeds and growing produce. You can sell the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor, with the hardest-to-grow plants being more valuable than others. Becoming better as a gardener can help you grow higher-quality produce. You can even use the things you grow to cook meals.
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You can plant any type of produce to grow a plant from it. Also, you might find seeds scattered around town. They look like small yellow objects on the ground. They can be difficult to see, so watch for them as you play.
If you get the Collection Helper lifetime reward, you can set it to show seed locations, which makes finding seeds and other collectibles extremely easy. Just switch the Collection Helper to show seeds, then zoom out to the map view to see icons representing the seeds, which you can instruct your Sim to go to. When you are close to the seeds, they will sparkle, although you need to unpause the game before they will start sparkling.
Also, you will sometimes get opportunities that will teach your Sim how to plant unusual things like cheese, eggs, and steak, or will give you rare seeds or produce.
To keep your garden growing, you must water it. Your Sim can do this if you instruct him or her to Tend Garden, but it takes a lot of time. To avoid having to make your Sim water the garden, you can buy a sprinkler. However, you have to manually turn it on and off, and while it's OK to have the sprinkler going all day long, you might get sick of the noise. I have heard that having the sprinkler on all the time will increase your Sims' bills.
To fix that, if your Sim is handy, he or she can upgrade the sprinkler to make it auto-water. When it auto-waters, it turns itself on at 4AM and turns off at 7AM. This makes sure that your plants get watered both before and after their growth phase, which prevents them from ever wilting.