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Never Grown a Garden?
by Nancy Castleman

C'mon, give it a shot -- what have you got to lose? You'll have a good time, get some great food, give yourself a good workout, and feel more self-reliant, all for the same low price. The secret is to start small. Plant a few things that are both easy to grow and tempting to your family. Stay out of the garden when it's too hot, wet, or otherwise unappealing, and don't hold yourself up to too high a standard.

No room for a typical outdoor garden? Grow one inside, on your deck, in a windowbox -- or join a community garden.

The book we highly recommend for beginners is Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, which demystifies gardening, and presents clear, concrete advice on the perennial gardening question, "How far apart should I plant!"

There's also a wealth of information to be had for free in seed catalogues. Our favorites are in the box on this page. But the most important info you can get is from locally-based resources -- be it a neighbor with a green thumb or the local office of the Cooperative Extension Service, which will probably have specific recommendations for what to plant ... when ... in your area.

For certain crops, it's a lot easier to start with plants than with seeds, so you'd be wise to pick up your first tomato, pepper, basil, cabbage, and broccoli plants at a local nursery. Find one where there's someone who actually knows something about growing fruit and vegetables in your area. Then politely pick that person's brain!

Tips: You won't get a lot of good advice on Mother's Day, or on whatever the big plant purchasing days are in your area. Instead, volunteer to come back at a time when s/he's usually not too busy.

Speaking of volunteering, consider taking this advice one step further, like I did when I wanted to learn more about gardening. I worked out a trade with a local grower. I helped transplant seedlings, and in exchange, got to ask as many questions as I wanted, plus take home all the plants my heart desired.

Reprinted from The Pocket Change Investor© 2003, Marc Eisenson & Nancy Castleman

The Pocket Change Investor
The Secrets to Getting Ahead -- Even If You Have a Pile of Credit Card Bills, Hefty Mortgage Payments,
Loans Out on a Clunker or Two, & a Bad Case of the "I'm Tired of Living Payday to Payday" Blues.

As of Issue #35 (Fall, 2003), The Pocket Change Investor, our quarterly newsletter on how to save money, get out of debt, and live better on less, will be available online, only -- for free! To get future issues right into your inbox, send your email address to us at newsletter@goodadvicepress.com, putting the word "subscribe" on the subject line.

The Pocket Change Windfall: Each of our 34 back issues offers painless ways to get out of debt and save on the many expenses that confront us all -- taxes, credit card bills, mortgages, insurance, food, you name it. You can get all 34 for just $29.95 -- that's less than $1 each. To order, you can use our secure server, call 800-255-0899, or write to us at:

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