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Tips to growing your own food at home

Feb 21, 2012, 8:38 a.m.

A gorgeous tomato salad with taste surpassing anything bought in a store, fresh herbs delicately flavoring homemade soups, and crisp green beans just begging to be eaten: These are just a few of the rewards reaped when home gardening. Never tried gardening? In many ways, gardening can be as simple as it is pleasurable. Just follow these easy gardening tips for a bountiful gardening experience.

Most vegetables and herbs are like avid sunbathers, the more sun, the better; so find a spot that gets plentiful sunshine. Start small, expanding in size and scope can always come later, and working on an enormous garden the first year can be overwhelming. Then, relax while perusing the many colorful seed catalogs. Resist getting carried away, though. Everything looks so incredibly tempting, but limit the choices for your first garden to easy to grow vegetables and herbs. Don't have a good spot to start seeds indoors? Local nurseries solves that problem with an abundance of ready-to-go seedlings just waiting to live in a garden.

Suffering from stiff joints or a painful back? Keeping the home gardening space convenient for preparing, maintaining and harvesting makes gardening much less stressful on the body. The idea is to avoid as much bending and kneeling as possible, so a heating pad won't be one of the expenses accounted for in a home garden. An incredible variety of vegetables and herbs are easily grown in garden pots. Plants in pots often require more frequen watering than if they were in the ground, but just imagine the simplicity of walking out the back door and picking fresh tomatoes right on the patio! Another option is raised bed gardening. The basic idea is to build rectangular structures a foot or two high to contain the soil with paths between the beds for delightfully easy access to garden plants.

There are as many different approaches to gardening as there are gardeners, so no need to worry about closely following most gardening rules. Think of them as general guidelines. The only really essential rules are those concerning sunlight, water and frost; get these wrong and your plants will not produce. Read gardening magazines or join a club, and try what sounds like the best fit. Organic gardening is increasingly popular, and many consider it the best option for good health. Remember, until the last half-century or so, all gardening was essentially organic, as people used only natural methods before chemicals were available.

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