Thursday, March 22, 2012

101 Frugal Tips #14

#14: Grow Your Own Food

We had our first North Carolina garden last year, and learned a lot about what grows and what doesn't in the native clay soil.  We have just begun to plan our 2012 garden applying some of those lessons.

Gardening can be an expensive hobby, or it can be a frugal boon for your pantry.  It all depends on your approach.  Gardening doesn't even require much space.  Herbs can grow on a windowsill or tomatoes in a 5-gallon construction budget on a patio.

  • Food containers such as cool whip, cottage cheese or milk jugs with the top removed work for herbs and greens.
  • Ask restaurants for 3-5 gallon pails and containers they are recycling for larger plants.
  • Make wooden boxes or raised beds from discard pallet materials.
  • Start with free soil from your back yard.
  • Ask a local farmer for some manure to mix in as fertilizer.
  • Start composting your own food scraps, coffee grounds, etc.
  • Walgreens offers seed packets at 10 for $1. 
  • Buy smaller sized seed packets that have recently become available for around 50 cents.
  • Learn to save seeds from the produce you grow for next year.
  • Watch for great sales at home improvement stores.
  • Check clearance racks for plants that look unattractive but can be revived.
  • Start your own from seeds using a milk jug as a green house.
Don't forget perennials!  We've planted berry bushes and apple trees that have years of production potential.  We found our plants on clearance at a small nursery.  It's a slightly bigger investment, and you need the space to grow them.  But, we're hopeful that these additions to our landscape will easy some stress on the grocery budget for years to come. 

If using a free container, free soil, free fertilizer and 10 cent seeds you simply grow some herbs on your windowsill, you could realistically save $20 over one growing season!  Growing your own food is a huge opportunity to save money.

We'll be sharing more about our 2012 garden plan soon!


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