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Grow Your Own: Home Horticulture on the Web

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Grow Your Own: Home Horticulture on the Web

Article excerpt

I'm beginning to understand why Aunt Bert still wraps even the smallest leftovers in tin foil to freeze. The stress of the Depression permanently shaped her mind so that she automatically acts as if sudden deprivation lurks. That behavior seemed maladaptive in the prosperous decades following World War II. But now, with horrible economic news assaulting us daily, I'm beginning to wonder if she's so crazy after all. Irene E. McDermott Reference Librarian/System Manager Crowell Public Library, City of San Marino

Think back to World War II, when the government urged citizens to fight food shortages by growing their own "victory gardens." According to the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension System (CSREES) [http://www. csrees.usda.gov/qlinks/extension.html], "An estimated 15 million families planted victory gardens in 1942, and in 1943 some 20 million victory gardens produced more than 40 percent of the vegetables grown for that year's fresh consumption."

The public responded to the national crisis by growing much of its own food, and the effort helped to win the war. Today, the U.S. fights wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the economic collapse could be considered a third front right here at home. Even folks who still have jobs and homes hear the sour news and feel destitute and hopeless. Growing food in our own gardens can alleviate our anxiety, help us to feel self-sufficient, and save money. Because our food does not have to travel 1,500 miles to get to us, our gardens help fight global warming. We get some sun and exercise. And we get the health benefits of eating fresh vegetables and fruit.

Let's beat back dejection and penury by getting outside and plunging our hands deep into the warm spring soil!

Garden Gates

The web overflows with bounteous advice about how to grow food in the family garden. Here are some gardening portals.

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Food Gardening Guide: National Gardening Association http://www.garden.org/foodguide/browse

"Whether you're growing basil, blueberries, or bok choy, the Food Gardening Guide will give you all the information you need to succeed." Find advice about planting, fertilizing, and pests, and read about the featured food crop of the month.

Dave's Garden http://davesgarden.com

This portal features articles, forums, how-to videos, and a wonderful resource with its more than 400,000 registered members. As the site boasts, "This is a gold mine of friendly advice and knowledge shared by experienced gardeners from around the world."

The Victory Garden http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/victorygarden/index.html

Landscape architect Jamie Durie hosts the longest-running TV garden show. The accompanying website offers advice on growing food in your own backyard. Read about great new varieties of vegetables as well as garden project ideas and maintenance tips.

About.com: Gardening http://gardening.about.com

Marie Iannotti offers general gardening advice, including some information about inedible, if beautiful, flowers and houseplants. But there is plenty here about comestibles, including Ten Tips for Growing Great Tomatoes [http://gardening.about.com/ od/growingtips/tp/Tomato_Tips.htm]. Also, find videos illustrating various garden topics.

Victory Gardens http://www.sfvictorygardens.org

The city of San Francisco has made it a priority to help its citizens grow food wherever they can. To that end, this site has been created with very specific instructions on how to build a successful raised bed garden. The site even details how to get one's soil tested.

Urban and Small Space Gardening

Speaking of growing food in the city, many of us don't have a lot of real estate on which to plant the kitchen garden. Turns out, that is no barrier, as these sites show us.

Garden Girl TV: Urban Sustainable Home Gardening Techniques http://www. …

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