Save Money by “Growing Green!”
It often seems like you can’t eat cheap and healthy at the same time. After all, eating off the fast food dollar menu can certainly feel a lot cheaper than shopping at the local trendy (and high priced) grocery store.
But it can be done! Not only will eating healthier make you feel better, have more energy, and avoid expensive medical issues, it can be cost effective if you do it right!
Habits like batch cooking and coupon cutting are a great way to eat healthy, but there’s something else you can do that will also yield some great results: growing your own food.
Home gardening will take a bit of work, but there are fruits and vegetables out there that you can grow in your own home and serve up to your family for just a fraction of the cost of buying it at the supermarket.
“If you want to garden cheaply, buy seeds and grow plants yourself,” says Kendal Perez (@HassleFreeSaver), savings expert with CouponSherpa.com (@CouponSherpa). “You’ll often spend a couple bucks or less for enough seeds to last you a few years, compared to $3 and up for plants.”
Still, you’ll want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. Here are some things that beginning gardeners should always keep in mind:
- When gardening, it’s a good idea to start small. Get too ambitious, and you’re liable to end up right where you started: with an empty patch of dirt and zero tasty vegetables. Pick one or two plants that are easy to grow—more on those in a bit—and put all your focus and energy into helping them along.
- If you have a backyard, great! Find a patch of dirt that you can turn into a garden. Make sure you check what kinds of soil you have in your area and what kinds of plants do best in your local climate. In addition to using fertilizer, it’s a good idea to work the soil a bit before planting. It’s easier for things to grow when the soil is loose and not super packed together.
- And if you don’t have a backyard, also great! You can still garden from home using containers filled with soil. You’ll just want to make sure they are near a window that gets a lot of light. If you’re not sure what do, there are many starter kits available to help you.
Author, blogger and gardening expert DS Venetta (@dsvenetta and @BloominThyme) says, “For growing indoors, herbs are a great option, as are an abundance of lettuce varieties. All they need is a sunny window and moist soil.”
Perez says, “Plants are much less expensive than buying produce whole, since plants can produce throughout the summer if you care for them correctly. My husband saves seeds from particularly robust plants (mostly pumpkins), which we use again the following year.”
According to Venetta, sweet peas are a great plant for beginning gardeners. They don’t even require a full garden, they can be grown right there on the patio! “All a gardener needs is to provide support in the form of a trellis, bamboo post, etc,” she says.
“A packet of seeds can be purchased for less than $2.00 and will produce a bountiful harvest in 4-6 weeks.” And she does mean bountiful!
Venetta says that “Sugar snap peas will produce a hundred pods from one plant and each pod contains 4-6 individual peas,” adding that “Those peas can be replanted and supply an individual with an ample supply of greens. Green beans grow in the same manner.”
Bramble berries? Growing them sounds like a pretty thorny endeavor, right?
“Don’t let the mystique of bramble berries intimidate you,” says Smith. “They can be grown almost anywhere in our entire country. They are perennials, so that means they will continue living year after year. They need annual trimming and fertilizer, but beyond that, if you choose a variety that won’t sucker, then they will be a rewarding and relatively simple addition to your garden.”
Smith adds that “Brambles, by the way, are a home run for getting the kids involved in gardening. And there are thornless varieties available too.”
The one thing about bramble berries is that you won’t see results as quickly as you might other plants. Smith says, “You can expect a few berries either next year or even sooner, depending on when you plant them, and the size of the plants you buy. Do not plant berry seeds and expect the same results as planting the cultivated and named varieties from the nursery.”
He also advises that you “Avoid choosing a variety that suckers, or else the vines will try to take over your yard.”
But once the berries start coming, you won’t be sorry.
“The fresh berries from your garden are much tastier than those from the market,” says Smith,” They won’t be bruised, and you’ll pick them at the peak of perfection, not when they’re still unripe, and some have a long picking season.
Smith says that “brambles can also be grown successfully in large containers for those with limited or small spaces.”
Start gardening today!
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get intimidated by the thought of growing a garden. While it will require some hard work, it won’t be as hard as you think, and you’ll get to reap some delicious rewards!
And if you have kids, then all the better. “Getting the kids involved in ANYTHING you grow is KEY to getting them to eat healthier,” says Venetta. “If a child grows a vegetable, the child will eat the vegetable—and probably won’t share!”
You can eat healthier and cheaper—all it takes is a packet of seeds, a handful of dirt, and a dash of determination. You can find Perez’s writing at HassleFreeSavings.com and Venetta’s at BloominThyme.com. Once you’re ready to dive in, NurseryEnterprises.com is a great source for gardening products and info.
Kendal Perez is the Savings Expert for CouponSherpa.com, a popular source for online, in-store and grocery coupons. Her money-saving tips are often featured on Bankrate, GOBankingRates, US News & World Report, Wisebread and more. Kendal can be found on Twitter @HassleFreeSaver.
Tony Smith the owner of Nursery Enterprises was raised by parents who gardened all their lives and farmed commercially for almost 20 years. He earned an AS and an AA in California and a BS in Utah. Once gardening is in your blood, it just keeps growing and growing.
Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s school garden that gave rise to the new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories filled with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside, and get digging.
When not crafting her next novel, D.S. Venetta hosts a garden blog, BloominThyme.com, where she demonstrates just how easy and fun gardening can be! Additionally, Venetta contributes gardening advice for various websites, publications, and schools. Passionate about organic gardening, her dream is to see a garden in every school, library, and community.
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