Virtual Vegetables

So, you got on the Internet. Or maybe you're still wondering about getting on the Internet. Or if you're really smart, you're wondering why you would want to get on the Internet. Let's not jump to conclusions here; why exactly would you want to connect your computer to the Internet?We can think of a bunch of reasons: 1) You want to find out what e-mail is; 2) You want to expand your social circle and improve your keyboard skills by typing messages to people all over the world; 3) You're passionately interested in Hungarian music and you can't find anyone else in your town who is; 4) You wonder what's at http://www.bigheavyworld.com/seven.days (just a little plug); 5) You're thinking of planting a garden and somebody said something about being able to plant peas right now, but you don't have a clue.Apropos for this issue's Home & Garden theme, it turns out you can find lots of gardening information on the Internet, including thousands of Web pages and dozens of online discussions on the subject. So even before you can get outside and tackle spring clean-up, you can find out how to make your garden grow better by planting a few seeds, so to speak, in cyberspace.The World Wide Web is (repeat after me, class) a huge collection of interrelated pages (that means you can jump from one page to another with a mouse click) on almost every topic you can think of. Each page is has an address -- they call it a URL or Web address. To see the page, you can type its URL into the location or address box of your Web browsing program -- like Netscape or Internet Explorer. We looked around the Internet as we were planning this year's garden and found quite a few Web pages. Here are the URLs for each (when you type these URLs into your Web browser, don't include the parentheses).* The (No) Problem Garden: Definitely our favorite gardening site. You're supposed to save the best for last, but we couldn't resist. If you look at only one Internet Web site on gardening, make it this one. Lindley Karstens shares her take on why one should garden at all, as well as philosophical tips on how to get more out of the gardening experience -- as opposed to your garden itself. In her words, "Getting tense over the aphids is not going to help your roses, anyway." But the site does have lots of good tips on solving real-world problems. ( http://www.netusa1.net/~lindley/ )* Gardening.com: You mean you didn't want to start your gardening experience by buying the Encyclopaedia Brittanica of plant-raising? That's OK; these folks have put it on the Internet for you. Pop quiz: How late can you plant peas in your garden? Gardening.com sez: "Sow seed in early spring every two weeks until 60 days before the beginning of 75-degree F weather." If you really get into this Web surfing stuff, Gardening.com will let you search for more Web pages to visit, more or less based on what you're interested in. ( http://gardening.com )* Books That Work Garden Encyclopedia: The Complete Guide to Garden Stuff: A cousin to Gardening.com, this actually is the Encyclopaedia Brittanica of gardening, and most of the text is available on the Internet. Instead of looking things up, you can just browse through the chapters and take notes on what interests you. If you want a nice essay on Integrated Pest Management, for instance, check out chapter four. (http://www.btw.com/garden_archive/toc.html )* The Garden Gate: This is mainly a list of other gardening sites on the Net, but Karen XXXX gives her opinion of what's hot and what's not. She's a much more serious gardener than we are, so listen to her. (http://www.prairienet.org/garden-gate )* The Garden Web: Includes an online magazine, The Cyber-Plantsman. Remember back in third grade, when you germinated some seeds in a paper cup? Well, if you think that's all there is to it, think again. The intriguingly named Sesbania Tripeti has a column at The Garden Web, and she'll tell you all about how to get it right. Pretty much our favorite page there. The rest of the site isn't bad, either, but it's a little long on hype and short on content. Besides Sesbania, check out the Gardens of the World pages for a little tourism on the cheap. (Sesbania's at http://www.gardenweb.com/sesbania. Gardens of the World is at http://www.gardenweb.com/gotw. The rest of their stuff is at http://www.gardenweb.com.) Do you get how these Web addresses work yet?* Andrew and Jackie's Koi and Pond Page: All about creating goldfish (koi) ponds in your garden. OK, this page is in Australia, and sometimes it's kind of hard to get to (we'll talk about pitfalls on the information highway some other time). But hey, what's a garden without a fish pond, right? (http://www.byteline.com.au/koi.html)Some of the best information on the Internet isn't on the Web Page part (that's the World Wide Web, in geekspeak) at all. Instead, it's on mailing lists and new groups (kinda like big bulletin boards). Most of these Web sites will show you how to get on to some gardening mailing lists, or mention some of the good gardening news groups. We'll talk about the details another time. By the way, we put this list of Web pages on our own Web page at http://net.dummies.net/internet101/gardens.htm. If you don't feel like typing the URLs below, use the Web page instead -- you can just click on the links.Note that new things pop up on the Internet all the time, addresses change, and Web pages move, so the occasional address may be obsolete.

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