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Nine Ways To Screw Up Your First Home Garden

With the current skyrocketing grocery prices and uncertain economy, more and more people are looking for ways to save money and become self-sustaining. At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, doomsday scenarios don't seem so farfetched anymore. I'm kept up at night worried about some disaster striking and me unprepared with two little ones.

One of the steps my family has taken to become more independent is to grow a mini-farm in our backyard. (I would have chickens right now except a city ordinance forbids free people from having fresh eggs.) When we started this project it was just a few garden beds, but it has now grown to a much grander scale with a full-on harvest in August that takes many weeks to properly can and store. As a result, our grocery bills have gone down, our fresh produce intake has gone up, and our stockpile of delicious homegrown goodies is growing.

But before you jump into the home-growing scene, take some time to learn from my mistakes. The following are nine ways to ruin your garden.

9. Soak your plants in pesticides

One of the advantages to having your own garden is feeding your family chemical-free, organic produce that is actually cheaper than non-organic produce. Bugs are not that big of a deal. I've had more problems with varmints than bugs. If you see some bug activity on the leaves of fruit-bearing plants, fear not. Most of them are harmless and if they aren't eating your fruit then leave them alone. If you do find that bugs are attacking your vegetables or fruit there are several natural remedies that will work just as well as poison. Mr. Fox discovered a rosemary oil blend that when atomized over our plants not only kept the bugs away but made our whole yard smell wonderful. Having used poison in the past, there is simply no comparison to the peace of mind that comes when you know what you're breathing in or eating isn't going to give you a third eye. If you have a particularly difficult bug, simply use Google to find the appropriate natural defense. (How did we survive all these millennia without Google?)

While I'm not one of those people who gets overly worked up over the use of pesticides --I still use fertilizer -- it's common sense to try to limit the chemicals we ingest. Growing your own pesticide-free veggies and fruit is a great way to start.

8. Plant corn

Unless you just want the stalks for decoration in the fall, forget corn. I've tried and failed so many times. It's never edible. Corn is not for the beginner gardener, or even the intermediate gardener. I followed all the directions, spaced it correctly, arranged it for pollination, watered, coaxed... and all I got was inedible, deformed mush. However, the stalks are going to look lovely on my front porch and I'll probably plant again next year just for the fall decor. And if anyone figures it out, let me know!

It seems as if every gardener has their "Moby Dick." For me, it's corn. However, there is a certain excitement to the possibility of getting it right this time, which is what drives me to continue trying. If you are going to try to plant something challenging, make sure you plant others that will reward you so you don't end up feeling defeated.