The weather has been positively wonderful recently, and it’s got me anxious to get out in my yard, get my hands in the dirt and plant.
Nothing beats the taste of fresh produce. Sure, a tomato from the grocery store may taste good in a pinch, but it can’t replace the deliciousness of a tomato picked right outside your door.
Along with the freshness factor, the potential cost-savings of growing your own produce makes it even more delicious.
Of course, like everything else, you can also go overboard and overspend if you aren’t careful or choose the most expensive tools and items.
That said, what do you need in order to make your money-saving garden grow?
Know what you eat and what you spend on it at the store: If it’s not something you eat or use, it will be time and money wasted. Growing your own herbs can be the biggest money saver. If you are already buying (expensive) fresh herbs at the store, it only makes sense to grow your own.
Start small: Not only is a small garden easier to tend, it’s really all you need. Be careful not to overcrowd it: space your plants properly, and they’ll fill out better.
Use good soil: Sure you could go out and purchase bags of fancy expensive soil, but the scraps from your dinner table will break down into a beautiful rich soil that is perfect for healthy plants. If you have the space, create a composting area. Dark, covered compost bins will break the scraps down faster, and turning it helps speed it up more. If you don’t have any compost yet, buy a bag or two and mix it in with your soil to supplement it.
Grow your own seedlings: I’ll admit, there are a few things I have had a difficult time getting to seed (making a seed swap, or your local garden center’s pre-started seeds a good option), but most seeds are quite easy to grow. Grow them in small yogurt containers with drainage holes poked into the bottom.
Swap seedlings: In our city, we have several farmers markets and other groups who offer seedling swapping. Of course, you need to bring your own seedlings to swap, so unless you prepared for this over the winter, you may need to wait until next spring, or take money to purchase some. Check your local paper or ask around at garden centers to locate swaps near you.
Rent larger equipment: We had a huge yard growing up, and each year we turned different parts up for our garden. A rototiller was probably worth the investment. But these days, it’s easy to rent one. Don’t waste the money on something that will spend 364 days of the year in your garage.
Know your growing seasons: Some things just grow better in different parts of the country. As you get started, remember to call your state’s agricultural extension office. It’s free and they are a wealth of information for knowing what to plant when, and what is best for your region’s growing seasons.
Learn to can: I haven’t gotten into canning, but if you are interested in trying it out, you can extend your savings into the fall and winter.
We live within the city limits and have a small yard. All of our veggies get planted in a strip that runs along the driveway. It’s a manageable plot, that gets good sunlight and drainage. Last year, from this small space, we were able to enjoy countless tomatoes, green onions, leeks, cilantro, rosemary, broccoli, and various types of leafy greens all summer. It was wonderful to be able to quickly pass through most of the produce section on my grocery trips.
This is certainly not an all inclusive list, but it’s a good place to start as you look ahead to the coming weeks and consider your own garden and ways you can use it to save money.