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Columns

June 7, 2008

Gardening has a whole new meaning

This summer, I'll be testing the theory that you don't have to be a gardening expert to grow a few vegetables.

I want to grow my own food for all the usual reasons: to save money, to help the environment by reducing the distance my food travels, to know exactly where my produce comes from and how it has been grown.

With food prices steadily rising, I'm sure I'm not the only one looking for ways to trim the grocery bill. In an area like ours, having a garden is a viable option. But how difficult is it, for the average person? Is the amount of money saved worth the time and effort required? Or are there other rewards that make all that digging, weeding and watering worthwhile?

These are the questions I hope to answer with my backyard gardening experiment. I have two goals: to see if I can actually grow something that tastes good, and to find out if the benefits of having a garden outweigh the work.

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I don't have a great track record when it comes to plants. The only houseplants I can keep alive are the kind hardy enough to survive the several days it takes for me to notice their wilted leaves and remember to water them.

Outdoor plants are even more daunting. I don't know anything about soil pH or fertilizer. I'm not sure what to do when bugs or other critters eat holes in your plants, or the leaves turn yellow, or the plants just don't grow.

I tried planting a vegetable garden several years ago, but the results were disappointing. In fact, I was so discouraged that the next year, I downsized to one patio tomato plant and let weeds take over my garden plot.

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