I retired from elementary school teaching in May, 2011. Today I'm an avid low desert gardener, researching varieties of peaches, plums, pears, apples and tomatoes that can survive and produce fruit in Arizona's 105˚+ summer heat. Now I'm researching dividend growth investing to find ways that invested savings can yield dividends the way orchards and gardens yield fruit. The real question is whether a beginner can successfully select stocks with dividends that can survive the ups and downs of today's economy. To find out, I rolled my tiny 403(b) over into an IRA and bought my first shares of MCD in May 2012. July, 2013: I've sold most of the mutual funds in my IRA and invested the proceeds into dividend paying stocks: AAPL, INTC, MCD, PAYX, ABT, JNJ, AEP, PEG, CAT, COP, PG, GIS, KO, O, AFL, NSRGY, ABBV, and KRFT. The one year total return is a tad above 6%, the dividend yield is about 3.3%, and the portfolio's Beta is 0.7 In the garden, I'm trying to grow three varieties of blackberries, two papaya seedlings, a pummelo seedling, tromboncino squash, and miniature butternut squash vines.