When I was a child, I used to go and stay with my grandparents for a few days in the school holidays. My grandfather was an expert at growing vegetables, and at making sound investments. Each time I visited, when I walked into his greenhouse the floor would be covered in huge cucumbers, the walls lined red with tomatoes, and a huge grape vine sagged under the weight of so many grapes pulling it down. He also built up a mortgage free £1m property portfolio and a large share portfolio

I asked my grandfather how he did this. He showed me how each year, he would plant dozens of tomato plants, of a few different varieties. There were trays and trays lining the windowsill in the kitchen, in an incubator in the back porch, and in the greenhouse itself. Some of these didn’t sprout at all, and were quickly discarded. As time went on, my grandfather would cast his eye over the remaining seedlings and gradually remove them. Only a dozen or so plants would fit in his greenhouse, so he had to be selective, and as soon as the plants had grown to a size there wasn’t space for all of them, it was time for another cull.

My grandfather knew what to look for; how fast the plants grew, the strength of their stems, the size of their leaves. This meant that only the best and most fruitful plants ever made it into a full sized spot in his greenhouse.

My grandfather was gifted with both a green thumb and a hard nose for investments, both of which served him well. I can’t claim to have his gifts. The potted plants in my back garden have slowly turned from a vibrant green to a murky brown. I did however try my hand at picking shares in autumn 2016, using a £50k paper portfolio. I read the Naked Trader and The Motley Fool Investment Guide and felt I had a good grasp of things. I ‘bought’ some shares, and after a month I was up 5%. What followed however was a rollercoaster of ups, downs, self doubt and anxiety over shares I didn’t even really own. In the end, I came out of the year up 25%. However, in one particular low, I tried a purely stock rank based portfolio to compare to my…

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