The vegetable garden is not anly a great way to save a few bucks, it's also great for kids to learn about preparation, care, and the rewards of a successful harvest. Our vege garden was planted on April 10. Maybe we can compare notes leter in the season? Toamtoes are in, and we're trying corn this year, plus a few herbs and strawberries.
It probably goes without saying, but growing your own food can work wonders for cutting down your grocery bill, as well as provide your family with a lot of cheap health food. But I know what you’re thinking I don’t know how to plant a garden, I can’t even keep houseplants alive, or I don’t have the room to grow anything. Nonsense! You don’t have to put in a half-acre plot and be entirely self-sustainable, but if you carefully choose what to grow you’ll find you can carve out even a small corner of your back yard or even your patio and save a lot of money in the process.
Even though many of us have a little time before the growing season really kicks off, you can start planning for your spring garden today. First, begin thinking about what types of vegetables you eat the most and then look at how much they usually cost. The reason you want to do this is because if space is limited you only want to grow what will give you the most bang for your buck. For example, you may love potatoes, but think about how much room they take to grow and how inexpensive they are in the store. It usually wouldn’t be worth it. The same goes for something like lettuce. You’d need to plant a lot of heads at varying times throughout the year just to have a steady crop, but if you can pick up a head of lettuce at the store for two bucks it probably isn’t worth the space or effort.
Instead, look at items that are more costly. A couple of examples are tomatoes and fresh herbs. I don’t know about you, but typical supermarket tomatoes are really lacking in the flavor department and it should be a crime to charge upwards of $3-4 a pound for them. Instead, a single tomato plant of your own may cost as little as two dollars and provide over ten pounds of fruit over the summer. Do the math a two dollar investment and a little watering may produce $40 worth of savings. And taste a hundred times better! Grow more plants, save even more (not to mention canning the excess for those cold winter months). If you want a good idea for tomatoes check out my homemade salsa recipe.
The same holds true for herbs. I don’t like paying a few dollars for a handful of basil or parsley that’s just enough for one or two meals. Again, you can pick up little seedlings of virtually any herb for as little as a dollar and come summer you’ll have more fresh herbs than you know what to do with. Even better, they take up hardly any space at all and you can grow most in small pots on a patio. Or do what I did last year and I just put a few herbs mixed in with the rest of the landscape around the house. No garden needed!
Growing a spring garden is a rewarding and money-saving hobby whether you’re growing a single tomato plant from your apartment balcony or putting in a few thousand square feet of plants in the back yard. As long as you’re smart about what you plant and have realistic expectations you’ll be sure to have some fresh produce to make meals taste even better this summer and fall.
So, as spring marches on start thinking about what you can grow this year. You don’t need to be a farmer or live out in the country to grow some money-saving produce. Keep your eye out for sales and excess stock before the gardening rush kicks in. You can probably find a lot of pots, seeds, or other gardening items on sale.
Start planning a garden today and reap the benefits of your work come summer time.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.