Grow Your Own Garden and Save Money (and Health)
For most people, grocery shopping for the family can be a real pain in the neck. Buying healthy is even more difficult today, as fruit and vegetables in supermarkets become less and less convincingly organic. Farmers’ markets can be too far of a drive, and the trip back and forth can cost you as much as the produce itself. That is not to say farmers’ markets aren’t the right choice, but when such providers are unavailable in a short time’s notice, we have to start thinking outside the box.
Starting your own little garden can be a great opportunity not just to save money, but to begin a new healthy family tradition. Never has it been easier, more fun, and more accessible to start.
Benefits of having a garden
The one question everyone has on their mind before taking on such an endeavor is, honestly, very justified: Does all the trouble of digging, planting, watering and maintaining a garden actually pay off? And the answer is YES.
There is no safer feeling for that cook in us, than knowing where our food comes from. The genetic modification of food today is, indeed, for a good purpose – to make the vegetables and fruit last longer, be more resilient to certain diseases, to endure harsher climates. But no produce is more delicious and packed with vitamins than the ones grown locally and organically. Furthermore, their shorter “shelf life” will only work towards the goal of eating more fruit and vegetables every day.
And speaking of healthy goals, having a small garden can have a great impact on your children’s lives, if you get them involved and interested. They will get to see how fruit and vegetables grow and develop firsthand, learn how to tend for them and know the difference between good and bad food once they are on their own. Not to mention this healthy habit could be a great family bonding activity that turns into a tradition they will carry on some day.
When caring for a family, staying within budget is essential. At first, starting a garden of your own will seem like an expenditure your bank account may not be ready for. But once you get this project going, the savings in the long run are innumerable. Think of the cut down grocery store trips, buying seeds in bulk cheaper than the price of the fruit they will bring. Some investment now will guarantee a return of money and time.
Last, but not least – gardening can be great for your mental health. The physical engagement of digging, plowing, and sectioning off the soil for different plants is a good cool down from everyday stress. And even better, by adding decorations, chairs or a small table, you can turn it into a nice place to relax and unwind. Nothing is more soothing than having a cup of coffee or tea after a long day’s work, in a small private patch of nature.
Have we piqued your interest yet? Then keep on reading how you can create your own slice of heaven.
Spot and plot size
First and foremost, you will need to start small. If you don’t want excess tomatoes and beans rotting away because there’s more than your family can eat, plan out your crops carefully. To feed a family of four for one season (and some produce to spare for the winter), you will need a plot of 10×16 feet. Depending on your living situation, your plot’s location will vary. But if you do have a choice, go for a place that has both sun and shade at different times of day. Certain veggies love sunlight more than shade.
Choose your vegetables
The plants that grow best in the shade are greens such as lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, and beans. On the other hand, tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, cucumbers and potatoes adore the sunlight. But all veggies equally need around five hours of sunlight, so it is best to sow rows going north and south, to utilize the most of the sun. Once decided which veggies are for you, find local farmers or nurseries that will provide you with the best seeds – they are usually cheaper and more dependable than store bought. Don’t go for seedlings, as they are expensive and more likely to fail.
Another great thing for your garden is incorporating green waste. Consider making your own compost from plants, grass clippings, dead plants and leaves. Choose the section off a corner in your garden where you can put away the waste for later use. The soil will be enriched and the crops will benefit. However, if the intrusive scent of compost is too much for your garden, there is another eco friendly way. Ask around your area for services that dispose of organic waste and recycle it, like AOT skip bins, for example. It is effortless for you, but will do an immense favor for your community.
Tips and tricks
Finally, here are a few pieces of advice that could be quite useful for an up-and-coming gardener like yourself:
Find lemongrass and marigold seeds – they are both nature’s best pesticides and insecticides. Lemongrass wards off smaller insects and mosquitoes, while doubling as a tea and spice herb, while marigold deters smaller rodents and rabbits.
Be mindful of the space in your garden rows. To avoid your garden cluttering up, see how much space each vegetable needs, because a crowded garden affects the growth and quality of crops.
Don’t stop at veggies! Grow basil, mint, parsley and many other spice herbs that have become a staple in the kitchen. You will be amazed how different the taste is from the store bought ones.
There is so much more to say about the benefits and beauties of growing your own garden. The best way to go about creating one is to turn it into a family project, or one you will share with your spouse or cousins. Find someone adventurous enough to ensure support and see how your life changes upside down, for the better. Gardens save money, your physical and mental health, and give you time for yourself you didn’t know you could have. So, what are you waiting for?