Tired Of Rising Food Prices? It May Be Time To Get Your Hands Dirty

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RENO, NV - You've probably noticed a trip to the supermarket is taking a bigger bite out of the family budget these days.

Rising prices due to the winter drought in the west and the cold elsewhere are expected to get worse, especially for produce.

High prices at the supermarket may send more of us out into our backyards to get our hands dirty in the coming months.

It is possible, experts say, to cut our food bill by growing some of it ourselves.

That's especially true, says horticulture specialist Heidi Kratsch of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, if you tend to buy organic produce.

But saving money is only one reason turning some of us into gardeners.

"A lot of it has to do with concern about where our food is coming from, what's going into it," says Kratsch.

Vegetables we grow ourselves may not only be better for us, they often taste markedly better. Those who know say if you want a tomato that tastes like it should, you have to grow it yourself.

"You pull it off the vine. You pull it out of the soil. You pull it off the plant," says Kratsch. "That's when it's at its peak for flavor as long as you're harvesting at the proper time, absolutely."

All good reasons to make a garden out of you, but she says you may also find yourself having fun.

"There's a lot of it that has to do with hobby gardening and people just love this time of year to get out and dig in the soil. I've got to admit that's my motivation, just to get out and get my hands dirty."

Kratsch says it doesn't take a big yard or any yard at all to get started. Container or raised bed gardening doesn't take much room and can produce a lot of food.

Local stores are already stocking some plants, but you may not want to let your enthusiasm carry you away just yet.

It's too early, of course, to start planting many crops, but a few cold hardy ones like lettuce and spinach can withstand early spring temperatures.

Others like tomatoes need to wait, but Kratsch says you can start plants from seed indoors now.

One thing you can do while you wait is learn more. The Cooperative Extension has plenty of helpful advice and classes that start April 3.

More information is available at their website, Grow Your Own Nevada.

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