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July 26, 2011

Can you learn how to garden?

I used to belong to the "brown thumb" league. Seriously. Houseplants or outdoor plants that somehow ended up at my house were promptly killed. Not intentionally, but nevertheless. My first attempt at vegetable gardening happened about seven years ago when I purchased a tomato plant from Lowes. I had no idea how to do a vegetable garden, but the tomato was doing pretty darn good in a container, so I decided to give it some more "love" in a form of lawn fertilizer. Needless to say, it shriveled and died in a couple of days. This experience was a disappointment, but it did not stop me from trying further. I started buying bookshelves of books and trying different things with plants and seeds. Well, seven years later, I can proudly say that I grow more than half of our family's food from my not so large garden.

There is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but you have to go on a journey. Gardening is easy if you master a few tricks. I must confess that the most important thing about gardening is soil preparation. Granted, I am biased towards growing organic, so my soil preparation is a bit more labor intensive than non-organic gardening approach.

Once you have your garden beds ready, you need to learn about the seasons, or what can be grown at your location at what times. Then you have to plan your garden so you do not grow too much of one thing and too little of the other.

Do not get discouraged if your first crop fails, it can happen. When we first moved on our property almost two years ago I did not have the time to properly prepare the beds, so my first harvest was dismal. This was a fall harvest, but I spent the winter double-digging the beds and the following spring I had a boat load of tomatoes and squash. Step by step, it is a learned skill. I hope blogs like mine are an encouragement and help in your quest of becoming a gardener and providing some wonderful produce for your family.
My bookshelf has many gardening books, but if you are interested, the following three are my favorites, as in most entertaining and useful:

1. Vegetable Gardening in Florida

2. How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine

3. The New Self-Sufficient Gardener


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