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Eat Like Obama: Plant Your Own Version of the White House Garden

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Plant Your Own Backyard Garden

The startup seeds and other supplies for the White House garden rang in around $200. Doiron says even with that small amount of money the "First Lawn" has 55 varieties of produce planned during the growing season. How can beginner gardeners get started tilling their own soil? Here are some tips.

1. Know what will work in the climate you live in. Connecting online with gardening aficionados through allows you to learn about what grows well in your area. Simply join and search for a group in your locale, or start one of your own.

2. Plant produce that you can build a meal around. Heartier items like squash, potatoes, and beans can substitute for meat and still be satisfying.

3. Add in herbs, spices, and hot peppers. Tasty addendums build flavor into your dishes -- without adding fat or salt.

4. Think ahead. "A new trend in gardening is that people are going to try to get a little more out of their garden (as a money-saving measure)," says Doiron. Grow tomatoes which you can toss into salads and slice for sandwiches during the summer. Later, pick some more to make sauces with that you can freeze for the winter.

5. Salad greens are surefire money savers. Growing lettuce is relatively simple and you can conserve cash quickly. Organic greens are pricey at the market (a 5-ounce package of Earthbound Organic Farms Baby Lettuce Mix costs $3.89 on, but they can be harvested from seed in about a month and will keep growing once picked. The online retailer, Johnny's Selected Seeds (, sells salad mixes which will yield a variety of different lettuces from one packet.

6. Get some exercise in the process! Gardening is a total body workout, says Mark Occhipinti, PhD, President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates. Not only does it raise your respiratory rate, but it works your core muscles, virtually all of your back muscles, biceps, triceps, glutes, and leg muscles. Be careful to avoid injury though, Occhipinti warns. Don't go full force in your garden on the first couple of nice days. Start slow by walking around your neighborhood for 20 minutes, and then dig in.

Originally published on, April 2009.


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