Save on Groceries - Grow a Garden
While saving money often means settling for less than the best, with growing your own produce it’s a different story. Planting a garden often allows you to get the freshest fruits and vegetables for the lowest cost possible. And with spring arriving, the time is now.
As a home gardener you can choose varieties known for their outstanding flavor or unique colors rather than settling for the varieties at the grocer’s, which farmers choose to grow because of their high production, uniform shape and color, and their ability to ship and keep well - qualities that are not so important for the home gardener.
Planting a food garden can have a relatively high start-up cost, or it can cost very little depending on how you choose to do it. It can be as simple a tucking an herb garden into your flower bed or growing a few lettuce and tomato plants in pots on your deck. If you’re new to gardening, starting small will keep down the initial costs and let you gain experience in managing your garden.
A larger garden can be made by tilling up a section of your yard. Or you can choose to build raised beds, which might require an investment in lumbar (untreated), bricks, or stone and garden soil or compost to fill them. If you have outdoor pets you may need consider lightweight fencing to keep the critters out of the garden beds.
You can buy many types of plants from the nursery, or you can plant your garden from seed. If your plan is for just a few tomato plants or so, getting plants is easier and saves you the time and effort of starting them yourself - and a six pack of tomatoes will cost about the same as a packet of seeds and the supplies to start them.
If your plan is to have a wide variety of vegetables throughout the growing season, starting them from seed can save big over the cost of plants as well as give you more choices in varieties. And once you make that initial investment with the seed house, you can cut your future costs by saving your own seed every season. If you plan to save your seed, look for non-hybrid heirloom varieties.
You’ll pay top-dollar for organically grown produce at the market, but you can grow your own organic vegetables practically for free if you have access to the raw materials needed to make your own compost. Grass clippings and leaves, pulled weeds, shredded paper, wood ashes (small amounts), and kitchen scraps are excellent ingredients for compost.
Putting it away
If your garden is very successful, you’re likely to have more produce than you could possibly use right away. Preserve the overabundance by freezing or canning, and you could be enjoying your harvest long into the winter months. The freezer method is quick and easy, requires very little special equipment (though a vacuum sealer will preserve the food better) and allows you to take smaller portions from the bag and toss the rest back in the freezer.
Growing a garden can be very rewarding by providing you with good food and healthy exercise - while saving you money on your grocery bill.