Virtual vegetables

So you’re thinking of planting your first garden, and you heard through the grapevine that you can sow peas right now — but you don’t have a clue about how to start. Where to turn? Even before the weather lets you get outside and tackle that tilling, you can take some steps toward making your garden grow better — by sowing a few queries in cyberspace.

Here are some of our favorite garden-related Web sites:

The (No) Problem Garden ( You’re supposed to save the best for last, but we couldn’t resist. If you look at only one gardening Web site, make it this one. Lindley Karstens shares her take on why one should garden at all, as well as philosophical tips on how to get more out of the gardening experience. In her words, “Getting tense over the aphids is not going to help your roses, anyway.” The site has lots of good advice on solving more down-and-dirty problems, too. ( You mean you didn’t want to start your gardening experience by buying the Encyclopaedia Brittanica of plant raising? That’s OK; these folks have pretty much put it on the Internet for you. Pop quiz: How late can you plant peas in your garden? sez: “Sow seed in early spring, every two weeks, until 60 days before the beginning of 75-degree F weather.” And if you really take a liking to this Web-surfing stuff, will direct you to a host of other gardening Web pages.

The Complete Guide to Garden Stuff ( garden_archive/toc.html): A cousin to, this one actually is the Encyclopaedia Brittanica of gardening. Instead of looking up specific things, you can just browse through the chapters and take notes on what interests you. Chapter four, for example, includes a nice essay on Integrated Pest Management.

The Garden Gate ( This is mainly a list of other gardening Web sites, but the author gives her opinion of what’s hot and what’s not. She’s a much more serious gardener than we are, so listen to her.

The Garden Web ( Remember back in third grade, when you germinated some seeds in a paper cup? Well, if you think that’s all there is to growing things, guess again. The intriguingly named Sesbania Tripeti has a site at The Garden Web, and she’ll give you the inside dope on how to get it right. The rest of the site isn’t bad, either, although parts of it are a little short on content/long on hype. Includes The Cyber-Plantsman, an on-line magazine.

Andrew and Jackie’s Koi and Pond Page ( This one’s all about creating goldfish (koi) ponds in your garden. OK, this page is based in Australia, and sometimes it’s kind of hard to pull up (we’ll talk about pitfalls on the information highway some other time). But, hey, what’s a garden without a fish pond? Technical troubles aside, this page is well worth checking out.

Note, too, that there are thousands of garden-related Web pages and dozens of on-line discussions on the subject, with new ones popping up daily (or even hourly). In addition, addresses change and Web pages move. So, if you truly want an exhaustive list of cutting-edge, up-to-the-minute garden Web sites, just type in “gardening” (or some variation thereof) in the appropriate space in your Web browser, launch it, and prepare to reap a cyber-harvest.

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