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Vegetable Gardening also on the Patio

  • Oh winter; that time of year when a trip to the local grocery store's produce section reveals pale tomatoes, limp lettuce and skyrocketing prices. Canned vegetables are great but cannot compare to the richness of a homegrown veggie. Spring comes around and the gardener races to the local seed supplier and eagerly prepares his or her garden for the introduction of seedlings. Potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, peppers, and even cucumbers are on the menu.

    Perhaps more than any other plant, a vegetable is a direct representation of hard work and dedication. It is something tangible that can be shown off with pride and given away so that others might enjoy its sweet taste. A vegetable garden takes work but the rewards are enormous. There are a few basic rules of growing a vegetable garden that every would-be farmer must know.

    • Plant what you would eat. It is always amazing when a person plants rows and rows of zucchini but hates eating it. If you do not like eating a certain vegetable, do not know someone who eats it, or you do not plan to sell it at a local market, don't waste your time and effort planting it.

    • Start simple. Try planting no more than five different vegetables. It is surprising to new farmers how much work each variety takes. Starting off small is much more preferable to starting with acres of vegetables and running out of steam when it comes time to work the ground.

    • Plan ahead for the harvest. It probably is not possible to eat bushels and bushels of ripe tomatoes before they begin to spoil or you get sick of them. Plan ahead for freezing, canning or cooking with the bumper crop. Another great tip is to swap vegetables with a friend. If he or she has an overabundance of potatoes and you have lots of green beans to spare then make a trade.

    There is nothing sweeter than a home grown vegetable. It may not be as pretty as one found in the local grocery store but it will be the best tasting potato, tomato, pea or squash that you've ever tasted. It comes from the hard work and dedication you put into the summer growing season. Your crop can be enjoyed well into the winter when overpriced, peaked veggies are being sold in the produce section. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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