I have recently become intrigued with the idea of starting a garden. Becoming self-sufficient. Living off the land. Wearing overalls and holding a pitchfork. Getting up before dawn to tend to the chores.

Except for the getting up before dawn part, it sounds kind of appealing. doesn’t it?

It is a romantic notion, tending a garden.

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Inspired by noteable farmers before me, I imagine myself skipping across Ohio throwing down apple seeds, or climbing a giant beanstalk laden with cans of baked beans, or working my own private Idaho pulling rooted french fries from the earth, or maybe farming dental floss from my backyard Montana like Frank Zappa.

I envision myself working a small tract of land at the end of my driveway, feeding my family fresh hamburger picked ripe from the vine. Or nurturing young, two-ply seedlings that will soon give rise to tall, healthy plants yielding bushels of toilet paper which I can sell for a tidy profit at the farmer’s market.

I foresee feeding myself and my family from a farm-to-table, glass-covered salad bar complete with bacon bits and ranch dressing which I have grown lovingly with my own rough, calloused hands soiled with dark earth, rich enough to grow moss underneath my fingernails.

And in the winter, I shall harvest frozen peas and vanilla bean ice cream.

But starting a garden is no simple task. At first pass, it seems easy. Throw down some seeds and wait for rain. But it turns out there is much more to it than this. For example, you need dirt too.

Creating a suburban garden requires a lot of planning. First is where to put it. If you have a backyard, it is pretty easy to surrender a plot of grass that you no longer have to mow. If you only have a patio, you will need pots and planters. And if you only have a pitched roof, it will have to be torn down and flattened.

Next you need some sun. If your backyard or patio or roof is in the shade, you will either need to move to Arizona or construct a convertible garden. A convertible garden can be made easily by parking a rusted car in front of your neighbor’s house or wherever there is available sunlight. A 1970 Chevy Impala convertible filled with manure is perfect to grow corn, wheat, or chewing tobacco and can be towed anywhere.

As you probably guess, maintaining a garden is not cheap. Assuming your garden is successful, you will eventually need a tractor and a silo and a crop duster. You will also have to pay your water bill. So you might want to think about securing a sponsor. I have found that Miracle-Gro® has scads of products to help inept gardeners and will pay handsomely to have their name attached to anything that grows. For example, I use Miracle-Gro® InstaGrow Mold and Mildew Formula in my bathroom with great success. Ka-ching.

You will also need to plot your garden above ground. This provides better drainage, prevents soil compaction, reduces weeds, and keeps pesky snails at bay. Miracle-Gro® Go Escargot also works great for this. And of course you will need a saw and a hammer and nails and a tool box and a truck and some skilled Miracle-Gro® Carpenter Mix to build it.

Once you have constructed your raised planter box, it is time to fill it with dirt. I think Miracle-Gro® sells this too. Or you can dig up your flower beds.

Now is when the fun begins. Take all of those seeds you started in March, the ones which are sprouting warm and moist indoors beside a well-lit window, and transplant the tiny shoots into the soil.

Wait. Did I forget to mention the seed starting step? Sorry. Like I said, planting a garden requires a great deal of planning. If you are just reading this now, no worries, you can easily start again next year.

For the rest of us, it is time to kick back and watch our gardens grow.

For that you will need a lawn chair. And a big screen TV. And some home brew from the hops you grew last season. Might I also suggest employing some Miracle-Gro® Outdoor Surround Sound, as plants respond well to music. And you will be happy to have a good sound system when Willie Nelson and Farm Aid come to bail you out.

And that is it! By the end of the summer, from your very own Valley of the Jolly Green Giant, I guarantee that you will be enjoying at least one or two anemic tomatoes that the chipmunks haven’t eaten.

Because harvesting a garden requires a lot of planning. And, as it turns out, fencing.

And in my case, a good Miracle-Gro® Produce Aisle at the grocery store.