No one likes high inflation, but most people are especially hating what’s going on right now. Sadly, we seem to be stuck with these rising prices for awhile to come, but that’s not to say we have to take it lying down. If you’re like most people these days, you’re searching out articles like this, as part of a desperate attempt to claw back some of your hard-earned cash. Therefore, you’ve probably already seen that one money saving tip it to grow a garden. Yes, this will absolutely help you to save on your grocery bill, but what some will find to their horror, is that it may actually end up costing you greatly in other ways instead. So, that’s what this article is for, to try and help you avoid those gardening pitfalls (as much as possible that is).
First off, let’s look at what’s needed to start a garden. You’ll need seeds of course (or plants if you want to save some time), good soil, water, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.
1. Seeds and plants can both be found on sale. However, the variety you’ll find is often greatly reduced by the time those sales happen. You can make your own sale when you need it, by looking for discount coupons and/or codes online.
However, you can also potentially get your seeds and plants for free by joining local garden clubs (they usually call these events seeds/plants swaps). Depending on where you live, your local library might even offer free seeds via an increasingly popular program called “Seed Saving Libraries.” Call your local branch for help; even if they don’t have one, they might know who does.
2. Soil is a big part of gardening success, and the solution to this problem really is unique to your situation. If you live in a track style home, often the developers scraped off the topsoil to sell it, long before the house was even built. It’s an income source for them, but a nightmare for homeowners, as they often have to fight for years to fix the poor soil quality. If you’ve just figured out you have this problem, you’ll need to pick your battle. Unfortunately, to fix the entire front and back yard, will cost a small fortune, and the amendments you add will often have to be repeated (at least in part) more than once, over the course of a couple of years. Only then will you have truly addressed this issue fully. DON’T PANIC yet though, as most people will never need to truly go that far, after all, you’re not starting a farm here, just a garden.
If you’re fixing a small plot, then money output will be minimized considerably. Often, all you’ll need are several bags of garden soil additive, mix it in, and you’re good to go. However, you should know you’ll probably need to repeat this every year that you do a garden.
If you’re just getting going, the easier route might be to start with a container garden instead. You can get some inexpensive pots (large ones, not small, plants grow after all), or a starter “Raised Garden” kit. This will have you starting out with Container or Potting Soil, which will have all the nutrients needed to grow healthy plants. You’ll only need to fertilize periodically over the growing season, which with pots is much easier overall. This also has the added benefit of being clean soil, usually free of any plant diseases from previous growing seasons. Trust me, starting out with good soil will be worth it in the end. Plus, even soil can be bought on sale as well.
3. Water is often completely overlooked when making a garden plan, and ironically can wind up costing the most. Consider what you’re really wanting to grow. Some plants just drink up water, and will wind up cost you much more to grow, than they ever would have from a store. Watermelons, for example, take a bit of water, and can be very difficult to successfully grow. Other crops are very susceptible to pests, especially if they are under-watered. All that work, only to have your plants die, or get eaten up, will only lead to headaches for you, and who needs that right now. Avoid this pitfall by seeking advice from your local garden center about what is easiest to grow in your town. Note I said town, as sometimes what will grow in a region on average, actually won’t work at all for your little corner of it.
Also, make sure to seek out better ways to water throughout the summer months. Ask about drip irrigation (which is sometimes as easy as just using a special hose), and how to save water by clustering your plantings. Certain plants can be grown in close proximity to each other, and it actually helps them grow better. Sometimes that comes from nutrient replenishment from one plant, pest repelling traits that benefit them all, or shade being granted by one plant for another (which prevents excessive evaporation). It’s worth inquiring about, as this can mean a greater harvest in the end.
Then there’s that free water that available to us all, RAIN. Rain-harvesting, or gathering, can help to cut into the water bill of a garden considerably. Even if you don’t get a lot of rain in your area, it’s still worth grabbing what you can. This can be done via a rain barrel (there are still rebates available for these, so look for them), or by simply putting some buckets/large bowels out on your patio (just be sure to weigh them down with a rock to prevent them from blowing away during windy storms).
4. Finally, stagger your plantings. If you’re going to plant carrots for example, you should plant a couple of rows, wait a week or so, and then plant some more. That way not all your veggies will ripen at the same time. It may seem great, at first, to be pulling in bags and bags of tomatoes, but how many of them can you eat in one week? Staggering your plantings, or planting varieties that will ripen at different intervals all on their own, will help make sure that you can fully benefit from the fruits of your labor. Unless, of course, you want to give most of it away to others who didn’t even help with the weeding.
Don’t forget that you don’t actually have to grow everything all by yourself. If your neighbors are growing a garden too, then think ahead, and talk to them about the possibility of doing a swap, if you have a good turnout. Then you each get a little bit of variety, without all that extra work that variety would usually entail.
Gardening can be fun, and relaxing, which can only be viewed as a bonus in times like these. Get the kids involved if you have them. It’s also a great way for them to learn about where their food comes from, while they simultaneously burn off some excess energy to boot.
If your garden grows the way you hope it will, then your food budget can get a bit of relief as a result. Which sadly, can then be used to help pay for your gas. I’ll leave you to search out gas saving tips on your own I’m afraid. I’ve got my own garden to start, so see you next time. Happy gardening Everyone!