I was thinking of making the leap from trial and error gardening to the real thing. I think it would be both functional and rewarding to be able to have a real honest-to-goodness vegetable garden.
The first step in mastering any new skill is almost always the same - head off to the library and find a good book on the topic. Thankfully I found Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
It was exactly the book I was looking for. It offered practical advice, and a simplified method that would require both minimal space and cost. There was no need to convert my entire back yard to a field, or buy thousands of dollars worth of new tools (well, that part would have been fun).
Mel's strategy is to actually plant less, yet make each thing you plant count. I was amazed, you really could keep yourself in veggies using his approach, and save yourself serious trips to the store. While some of his advice was bit over the top (such as: find a place to pickup compost material on the way home from work, and get a couple buckets worth a couple times a week. Uh, don't think so.), most of it was quite reasonable. He spends considerable time trying to convince traditional gardeners his method works - as for me, I was easily sold.
Alas, even with this glowing review of the book, I have to admit, I won't be starting a vegetable garden any time soon. In the 3 weeks I had the book checked out, I didn't even have time to finish it. If I can't finish the book, how can I find time to actually tend a garden?
If you really want to grow your own food, and don't know where to start, give this book a try. It's clear, direct and has a minimum of fluff. Oh, and if it works out, feel free to send me some samples of your handy work.