I was 20 when I tasted my first garden tomato. That’s right, 20. I was visiting a friend in Indiana, and she sent me home with two pints of fresh-off-the-vine cherry tomatoes. Three hours later, I had no more tomatoes and a stomachache to prove it. But, at least I’d been bitten by the gardening bug.

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 7.26.27 PMWe just planted our 9th garden, and although I can’t say I’m an expert, I’ve learned a few things along the way.

1. Gardening is an art, not a science.
Sure, there’s a lot to learn to make a great garden, but there is no exact formula to success. So much of it depends on your climate, the sun in your yard, your soil, your effort and just plain luck. But that shouldn’t deter you. Ever see a school garden? If kids can garden, you certainly can too. All you have to do is get your hands dirty (literally) to learn to garden. Every success or failure makes next year even more promising.

2. Find a real garden center.
We frequent a number of garden centers in our area, including Home Depot, for supplies. Home Depot has a number of able-bodied men who are very good at lifting soil and compost onto my cart. When we buy plants, though, we go to a garden center (We like Anton’s or Meinke.). There, we find knowledgeable gardeners and nurtured plants. Ask anyone a question at a real garden center, and you’ll find the advice you need.

3. Vegetables have seasons.In our era of eating like kings, with every food available in every season, it’s rare that we consider the seasons of fruits and veggies. Strawberries and asparagus are incredible in spring, and winter squash is at it’s finest in the fall. And as far as I’m concerned, a tomato’s just not worth buying if it’s not summer. There’s nothing like gardening to make you and your kids appreciate nature’s seasons. Just when you’ve had your fill of strawberries, lettuce, peas, blueberries and beans come along. And after that are the tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches and apples. Produce shipped over the Rocky Mountains and ripened in a box are a mere shadow of tree-ripened fruits and vegetables.

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