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It seemed a safe assumption to William Alexander that growing his own food would be cheaper than buying. A pack of tomato seeds costing $1.79 had the potential, he estimated, to produce "fifty, a hundred, maybe even two hundred dollars' worth of tomatoes."

"Try getting a return like that on Wall Street," he said. Then he checked the math...

Alexander, by vocation a technology guy, is a home gardener for the love of it... So it seemed fitting, on a day when it was still too early for planting, to ask what advice Mr. Alexander — the sort of fellow who buys a few books and builds his own kitchen when the estimates come in too high — might offer those gardening naïfs who are just starting to muck around...

"The biggest problem Anne and I had when we were trying to figure out what to do, a mistake we would encourage other couples to avoid: we gave each other garden books. Great Victorian gardens, small period gardens — garden porn. And what we failed to realize, though it should have been obvious to anyone, was that one of the things that made great Victorian gardens great was that they came with great Victorian gardeners..."

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