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Kathleen Weaver Zech - Dean's Team Director of Buyers Agency ServicesWith our recent economic downturn many folks have decided it's a great idea to grow their own vegetables. If you don't already have the tools it can get pricey. If you start small and are realistic in your goals, it can be both rewarding and money saving. Use these tips for successful gardening.

1. Plan carefully. Research in books, catalogs, and on the net. Ask friends and neighbors about their vegetable successes. Narrow your list to a few easy vegetables. Among the easiest: peas, green beans, herbs and lettuce.

2. Use transplants. Your local garden center will have many varieties that will work well in our area.

3. Check your soil. Enrich the soil with organic matter. The cheapest way is to use shredded leaves from the fall before if you remembered to keep them, if not purchase from your garden center. Don't be skimpy, dig in as soon as the ground thaws.

4. Plan for water. The most efficient way is using a soaker hose. This way also conserves water by soaking close to the soil with minimized loss to evaporation.

5. Add supports and protection. Place tomato cages, trellises for climbers such as beans, peas and cucumbers. Use chicken wire fencing to protect against rabbits.

6. Plant at the proper time. Don't plant transplants in the garden until the danger of frost is past. For the Chicagoland area that is May 15. Based on my experience, I usually wait an extra week just in case. Planting too early can weaken the plants.

Have fun! I've been gardening for more than twenty years and I still learn something new every year. The weather around Chicago can be challenging, so don't get discouraged. Weeds can overwhelm us and bugs can drive us nuts just relax and have a good time.


Posted: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 9:40 AM by Dean's Team


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