Monday, June 22, 2009

Save Money on Food: Grow Your Own!

Or: Gardening for Fun and Profit or The Glory of Backyard Gardening or Green Your Dinner Table or Forget Victory Gardens; These are Peace Gardens!

Coupons are great and all, but we all know grocery shopping sucks and even with a load of coupons, you're still spending a lot of money on food. Why not grow your own instead? No matter where you live (city, suburbs, country), or in what climate, or how much space you have, you can grown your own vegetables, herbs, and even fruit. This is the inaugural article of TAiMH's new organic gardening series, where we'll walk you through planning, planting, growing, harvesting, preserving, and more. And the best part is we'll do it as cheaply as possible—and because we're poor, that means really cheap. No fancy planters or fertilizers, no $3 seed packs, no expensive (and toxic) pesticides, nada. We'll focus on vegetable and herb gardening, but later in the series we'll branch out into fruits and flowers. As you know, there are entire blogs, books, and magazines devoted to just vegetable gardening. There's a lot of ground to cover, especially since we're starting from the extreme newb level. I'm going to be as informative and comprehensive as I can without completely transforming TAiMH into a gardening blog.

Why grow your own?
The plethora of reasons to start growing your own food include:
  • You know what your getting. When you grow your own food, you know it's safe. You know you didn't spray toxic pesticides on them or bioengineer them or use harsh chemical fertilizers. You know you're getting safe, healthy food for yourself and your family.

  • It's fun. Whether you garden alone or with a friends or family, just the act of gardening—of being outside in the sunshine, of nurturing another living being and watching it grow—is worth it. I find gardening not only enjoyable but therapeutic. It's odd how calming simple outside tasks like weeding, tilling, and planting can be.

  • Home gardens help the environment. When you grow your own food, you're not supporting factory farms that end up harming the planet more than helping it [1], you're helping preserve the ozone by growing plants that process CO2 and produce oxygen, and you're not buying food from a grocery chain that ships their food in from all over the country (and globe), thereby creating pollution.

  • Besides saving you money, gardening can be a supplemental source of income if you plant a surplus. You could have a vegetable or fruit stand in front of your home during the harvest months. Plus, you'll be helping others eat organic and local.

  • Homegrown just tastes better.

But isn't having a garden time-consuming?
Gardening does take time and effort, though probably much less than you think. You can spend as much or as little time gardening as you want. MDT and I planted a garden at our new house a couple of weeks ago, and after the planting and preparation, we only spend a few minutes per day watering and pulling a few weeds. It's easy to tailor a garden to your lifestyle. You can always start small and expand your garden as you learn.

Is it really cost-effective?
Whether growing your own food is cost-effective depends on how you go about it. If you buy your seeds, plants, materials, planters, soil, fertilizers, etc., etc. at normal retail price, you can spend a whole lot of money—probably more than you'll recoup. There are people out there who enjoy gardening so much that they're fine with that, but since this is a blog about money-hacking, we're going to show you how to do it so cheaply it'll save you quite a bit of grocery money. In fact, we're keeping track of everything we spend on the garden and everything we grow, and we'll post the final results after our final harvest this year.

I hope this has been a helpful introduction to home vegetable gardening and that it's inspired some of you to start your own garden and begin growing your own safe, healthy, delicious food. Stay tuned for the rest of our series, which will continue all summer long.

Next time: Planning and starting your first garden.
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Christina Crowe said...

I loved this blog post! My family owns a vegetable and fruit garden. It can get pretty exciting watching the fruit grow!

I was browsing through entries in the Health Fitness How To Carnival when I came across this post. I must say, this was a great read!

I recently made a post in my blog, Salad Sticks, on interesting articles found in last week’s carnival and have the post linking back to this page.

Thanks for the info!

Wren Caulfield said...

Thanks, Christina! I hope you find more you enjoy on the blog.

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