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Growing a Garden for Frugal Eating

By Cary Anderson

The end of winter is nearly upon us which means the bounty of spring is just around the corner. If you’ve never grown your own food, take a moment to consider some of the benefits.

  • Cheap, healthy food source
  • Connection to nature
  • Sense of accomplishment
  • Motivation to be creative in kitchen
  • Chance to bond with friends/family

Growing a garden or even just maintaining some potted plants on a patio is one of those rare win-win propositions of life. Similar to exercising or eating healthy, growing your own food offers basically nothing but pure upside. Shouldn’t we all be looking for these “can’t lose” opportunities that life has to offer?

Miracle of Seeds

If you’re new to growing plants, don’t worry. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years and you can too. The amazing thing about gardening is the incredible return on investment that seeds offer. A few cents spent on seeds can yield several dollars worth of produce. A good starting point for anyone new to gardening is to grow lettuce. Lettuce is one of the easiest things to grow. If you have a yard where grass is growing, turn that soil over and plant lettuce seeds. Join what is unfortunately a tiny minority of home owners who use their yard as a money-saving resource by growing vegetables rather than grass.

How Much Can You Save?

A modest aim for return on investment by starting a garden is 500%. In other words, if you spend $100 on supplies, seeds, water, and compost for your garden, you should be able to yield an amount of produce that would cost $500 to buy in stores. You may save even more than this depending on certain factors like rainfall and reuse of certain supplies.

Some of the best value crops to grow in terms of how many dollars in produce they will yield are: tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, onions, and carrots. Conveniently, these crops will grow just about anywhere with a nice summer climate (which might not be the case for crops like avocado or mango which require a more specialized, tropical climate).

By investing time, effort and a little money on needed supplies, gardening can yield a savings of several hundred or even thousands of dollars per year depending on the size of your garden and family.

Tips Worth Considering

Here are some closing tips worth considering with regards to growing your own garden:

  • Start small. You don’t need to turn your entire property into a produce-growing machine right this second. Do what you can handle. Try planting some lettuce and tomatoes this year in a small corner of your lawn to see what you think of the results. You can always expand your garden in future seasons!
  • Preserve for later. Vegetables like potatoes and garlic will keep for months when stored properly. Other vegetables like tomatoes have a shorter shelf life and need to be eaten sooner after harvest. If you find yourself with too many tomatoes on hand, preserve them by canning them! You can use them as the foundation for a great stew or pasta dish later in the year.
  • Include a friend. Starting a garden with a friend or family member can make the experience much more enjoyable. Gardens require a fair bit of upkeep. It can be nice to have someone else dedicated to maintaining responsibility for the garden. But if you decide to go it alone, that can be rewarding too. Like we said, gardening is win-win!


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