Cut Costs by Growing Your Own Vegetables

Growing vegetables is a great way to save money on groceries, says Better Homes & Gardens. A single tomato plant can yield 10 pounds of fruit in a season, for example, saving $40 on store-bought varieties that just can’t deliver the same flavor. You don’t even need a lot of space to start; by tucking raised beds, pots and other containers into the corners of a deck or balcony, even apartment-dwellers can enjoy nature’s bounty. Check the thrift store for spare pots, window boxes and other containers you can upcyle to create a garden; many are supplied by generous donations to ClothingDonations.org.

Plant Your First Vegetable Garden

If you’re starting your first serious vegetable garden, you’re in for a treat. Fresh-picked produce tastes better than store-bought, says a beginner’s guide from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Be sure to pick a good location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day; features soft, rich soil and good drainage; and won’t be disturbed easily by winds or foot traffic. Start small to ensure you don’t create more work (or more of a single crop) than you can handle. Give your plants enough room to grow, and observe each crop’s watering requirements carefully. And finally, choose vegetables that are easy to grow in your area and that you like to eat, and you’ll be hooked in no time.

A Victory Garden for Today

During World War I and II, many families in the United States planted victory gardens to reduce pressure on the public food supply and aid in the war effort. Today, consider growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs for relief from the high prices of factory-farmed produce, says FamilyFoodGarden.com. For the ultimate in victory garden foodstuffs, consider crops that can withstand early frosts such as potatoes, cabbage, carrots and radishes. For extra flavor, try onions, garlic and herbs. And to have bountiful produce without a lot of work, try perennial or self-seeding plants such as rhubarb, kale and spinach.

Plant Vegetables to Save Money

Planting a garden with vegetables you buy and eat on a regular basis can help maintain your healthy diet while saving money, says the Thrifty Little Mom. Her garden selections include spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and zucchini, which can be expensive to buy in stores and taste best when harvested fresh from the vine. Keep your garden simple by dedicating plots or raised beds to growing, and remember that many vegetables must be planted in full sun to thrive, she adds. Avoid waste by canning, freezing or giving away some of your all-organic, home-grown bounty.

Make Your Garden Grow

Over the Easter holiday or spring break, you may have noticed that things have started to bloom. Trees are budding, and spring flowers are popping up from the ground. And now that the threat of a frost has finally passed for most locations in the United States, it’s time to plant a garden you can enjoy throughout the year.

First, you’ll need to spring-clean your yard and garden plots. Clip any dead foliage or withered tree branches, and rake the thatch from your lawn. Doing so gives new branches and shoots the room to grow and flourish, according to the EarthEasy sustainable living blog, and you need to clear a path before things can start to grow in earnest.

Then comes the fun part: planting seeds and seedlings. Depending on your space, climate and needs, you might plant containers for a balcony, a sculptured perennial garden that has new blooms every month, or a raised vegetable garden—or all of the above! Better Homes & Gardens offers a plan for virtually every situation, space and skill level.

If you’re new to gardening and on a budget, there’s no better place to shop than at the local thrift. Donations to ClothingDonations.org include lightly-used trowels and other tools, decorative clay pots and containers, and other garden items. When they’re resold, the money goes toward helping fund veterans’ programs throughout the country.

Early spring is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. It’s also a great time to see hardy flowers such as pansies, irises, daffodils, tulips and hydrangeas come up. If you missed the window to plant early-spring flowers, get summery perennials such as day lilies, black-eyed Susans and roses into the ground, and start preparing your pots for herbs and annuals.

If you want to eat fresh produce from your own victory garden (as many older veterans might remember their families doing during WWII), plant crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, raspberries and peas early in the season. RealFarmacy offers a zone-by-zone list of late-April garden to-dos that can help establish a productive vegetable garden.

As with spring cleaning, the keys to a good garden are organization and elbow grease. When you figure what you want your outdoor space to look like, it will be easy to make the time and space needed to plant and cultivate the flowers, shrubs and vegetables you want. Get started now, and you’ll be able to enjoy your garden all summer long.