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Home gardening is booming these days, both as an outlet for Americans, and, according to sociologists, as a trend for millions turning toward a simpler, gentler lifestyle worldwide.

Neighbors are exchanging herbs for oranges and more parents are providing the opportunity for their children to witness first-hand how food is grown from seed. 

A small, sunny patch in your backyard is all you need to start, and failing that, window boxes, containers or even pots on an apartment building rooftop can provide equal opportunity.

If you’re new to gardening, experts say to start with easy-to-grow veggies like zucchini and cucumbers, which tend to grow almost like weeds, lettuce, if you have enough space for leafy greens to spread out, and tomatoes, which do as well in hanging baskets as they do when staked in the ground. You can start your veggies from seeds, young plants purchased locally or from a catalog—and while you’re at it, consider growing strawberries, a summertime favorite that can thrive in small pots or planters on a deck or patio

Apart from the purchase of plants or seeds and the cost of containers and potting soil, you will want to invest in a trowel, possibly a hoe, some gardening gloves and a watering can and/or a sprinkler attachment for the garden hose. Plant food, while a nice idea, is optional, and if you’re not yet ready to venture into the store, curbside pick-up from most home stores is available almost everywhere.

In all, your garden will be a minimal investment considering that, according to experts, home vegetable gardens produce on average more than double the value in fruits and vegetables than what they cost in materials and supplies. You can start small, spending far less than you may think.

Most garden shops and big box garden stores offer free instruction on planting and maintenance, but you can learn a lot online. Many families today are making it a project to learn and experiment together.

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