A downtrodden economy coupled with the skyrocketing price of groceries makes it harder than ever to put food on the table. Household budgets are stretched thin and saving money is a top priority. If you’ve ever pondered the idea of vegetable gardening but never taken the tiller in hand, now may be the ideal time to get growing. Of course, a desire to save money is not the only reason to grow your own food; but in times of economic uncertainty it makes perfect sense.
Learning how to grow your own food is not rocket science. Planting an organic vegetable garden may seem intimidating to the novice gardener, but honestly, the learning curve is not that steep. There are countless good books available on the subject of vegetable gardening, and if you check them out from library it won’t cost you a penny. Then too, gardeners are a friendly lot who are more than willing to share their vegetable gardening secrets with you.
You don’t need a giant plot of land to grow your own food, either. Over the years, I’ve perfected the art of getting a huge harvest out of the smallest vegetable garden in town, and with a little practice, you can too! Lettuce, spinach, chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs all grow reasonably well in containers, so you can even grow them on your patio if need be.
Some of the benefits of growing your own food include:
1. It saves money. How much you’ll save will depend on several things. If you already do some flower gardening, then your initial expenditure when you decide to branch out and grow your own food will be significantly less than someone who’s never gardened before. You’ll already have basic gardening tools like shovels, hoes, trowels and such. Buy a few seeds and/or plants from the garden center and you’re all set. If your gardening tool shed is woefully empty, shop around to find the best deals, and consider going to garage sales and estate sales. I once scored a huge pile of garden tools in great condition, all for $1!
A single organic cucumber can cost $2 or more at the grocery store, yet you can grow hundreds of them from one seed packet for about the same price. Some organic vegetables like snow peas, beets and chard are ridiculously expensive in the grocery store yet they grow happily in a backyard garden. Hence, it’s not hard to see that growing your own vegetables will certainly save money in the long run.
Starting plants from seeds is another way to save money on your vegetable garden, but novices may want to purchase established plants at first until you become more confident in your ability to grow your own food. And if you buy heirloom, non-hybrid varieties, you can learn to save seeds, dry them and use them the following year. You can shrink your grocery bill even further if you learn how to preserve your summer harvest by canning, freezing, dehydrating or making tomato sauce.
2. Organic vegetables you’ve grown yourself are healthier and more nutritious than those grown on large farms that routinely use pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Buying organic produce from the grocery store is costly, yet it’s very easy to grow organic vegetables yourself that will be infinitely better for your body as well as save money.
Organic vegetables from your own garden have more nutrients because they’re much fresher than produce that’s trucked in (or flown in) from far away, and has been sitting on the supermarket shelf for who knows how long. It doesn’t get any fresher (or more convenient!) than going out to the garden to get some lettuce and other vegetables to make a salad for your dinner.
3. When you grow your own food, you improve your health in another unseen way: you will be getting some heart-healthy exercise outdoors. No matter what shape your body is in, the light physical activity of gardening is not overly exhausting, and the fresh air is invigorating. Gardening is also a wonderful way to relax and de-stress.
4. The sense of pride in your self-sufficiency and ability to grow your own food is indescribable. Caring for your fragile seedlings and watching them grow into healthy plants laden with organic vegetables is also very gratifying and fun. And involving your whole family in the vegetable gardening is a great way to spend quality time together.
Considering that you can save money, eat organic and improve your health, there’s no better time than right now to learn to grow your own food.