Taking up vegetable gardening as a hobby has a number of benefits. Some discover that spending time working in the dirt is a tremendous relaxation technique. Others have discovered the matchless taste of home-grown, fresh-picked vegetables. Still others are looking for ways to bring down their personal carbon footprint–vegetable gardening makes eating locally much easier.

All of these people have something else in common: they know precisely where their vegetables are coming from. The safety of today’s food supply can no longer be taken for granted–growing vegetables at home can help you feel more risk-free. Irrespective of your priorities, home vegetable gardening is remarkably rewarding.

You may find that you can even earn extra money with your vegetable garden. Today’s vegetable growing techniques work so well you can count on having extra to sell from your front yard or at a local farmer’s market. There’s a good chance that local restaurants and health food stores would be interested in purchasing your bounty.

The first decision you’ll need to make when planning a vegetable garden is size. How much space can you give to the project, and how much work can you reasonably expect to do? When you’re doing this introductory “gardening in your head” exercise, you’ll want to purchase lots of different vegetables in a full range of varieties. If you haven’t grown vegetables before, you may be amazed at the amount of work required. Don’t plan more than you can deal with at the beginning.

Start by creating a list of the vegetables you want to grow. Don’t discount anything yet. This is vegetable brainstorming and all ideas are welcomed. Later on there will be plenty of time to figure out what you can afford and what you have time to care for. Give your mind free reign to create the vegetable garden of your dreams. But don’t just imagine it. Be sure to actually write a list.

After you’ve finished listing the possibilities, start narrowing them down. Investigate which vegetables can be bought locally. For example, if locally-grown cabbage or corn is readily available in your area, then there’s probably no reason for you to plant them. You probably can’t improve much over the taste or lower the cost by growing them yourself.

As a result of this process, you’ll have a list of vegetables that will either cost much less or taste much better from your garden compared to the market. Herbs are an excellent example of edible plants on which you can nearly always economize by growing them yourself.

Tomatoes are another favorite choice for cultivating at home. For tomatoes, it’s usually more about the taste than the cost–home-grown tomatoes simply taste better. While we’re in the salad section, specialty lettuce is another great choice. When you grow fancy lettuce at home, you can eat it all you desire without thinking about the cost.

There’s no way to avoid the fact that vegetable gardens involve some hard work. You may consider manual labor to be a relaxing activity. But when it’s really hot, or when you’re simply not in the mood, the work can be brutal. In case you hadn’t thought it through, there will be dirt and bugs involved.

Second thoughts are most common when people try to make a garden that is too large. Committing to a project beyond your ability is a certain way to fail. And gardens don’t wait for you to be ready to work. When work needs to be done, there’s no putting it off. This is not meant to deter, but rather to make sure you understand why you’re narrowing down your list above.
Here’s another bit of advice–planting something you don’t like to eat is just silly. Adjust your choices based on your personal tastes, not according to what looks good in the seed catalog. Unless you mean to sell the surplus, try to avoid planting too much.

Garden tips

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