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Grow your own vegetables
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All across the country, families are planting vegetable gardens.
For many it’s a way to cut the cost of fresh vegetables. Others plan to can the bounty and have fresh food all winter long.
No matter where you live, it’s not too late to get started on a garden of your own.

Getting started: If you’re new to gardening, it’s best to start with small seedlings. Ask at your local nursery about which vegetables do better when started as young plants as opposed to seeds.

Space requirements: Not everyone has access to a large growing space in the backyard. Wooden boxes on the patio or balcony can hold tomato plants, bush beans or a few rows of carrots. Investigate community gardens where each person is given a small square of land to work. If the side of your garage is the only place that gets full sun, plant there.
When planting near a house, however, it’s best to have a soil test done to be sure that lead from old paint hasn’t contaminated the ground. Certain types of vegetables will pull in more lead than others. Better to be safe and check in advance.
Start with a small garden area that won’t overwhelm you to tend.
What to plant: Keep it simple and start with just a few different types. Only plant what you know your family will eat. Don’t experiment and hope that your children will suddenly develop a taste for okra just because they helped to plant and harvest it.
Food that isn’t eaten is food (and your time and money) that is wasted. If your family loves green beans and carrots, grow those.

Get advice: If a neighbor has had a successful garden year after year, that’s your best source of advice about soil pH, the types of vegetables that grow best and what pests to look out for.

Sharing the harvest: Investigate ahead of time to find soup kitchens in your area that might want your excess vegetables. You might end up with much more than you can consume.

Sell your extras:
Depending on your local laws, you might be able to set up a weekend stand at the end of your driveway to sell your vegetables.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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