Growing your own produce is a great way to ensure that you always have your favorites on hand, without paying a fortune at the grocery store for shipped goods. A lot people get carried away with the concept of gardening and spend way more than they would have in the store. Square Foot Gardening is a great way to simplify the process, making gardening easy and affordable even for those of us who lack a green thumb.
You can start your own plants from seed right now for a fraction of the cost over buying starter plants later in the spring. Get an indoor greenhouse tray for faster, easier plant growth. Plant only one seed per peat pot. You may lose a few in bad seeds, but in the long run you’ll save the hard work of thinning, a process that often loses plants to stress anyway. They can be transferred to your garden at the right time.
The key to a great garden is the soil. You will have to spend some time improving your garden’s conditions. You can save money by making your own compost, while decreasing your family’s “footprint” on the earth. Food scraps can be composted with dried leaves, grass clippings and dead plants. Compost needs decomposing materials, air and moisture to turn into humus.
One cheap, basic method of composting is to make your own bins. Cut the bottom out of an old storage tote so that the soil (and earthworms therein) would be accessible, drill several holes around the sides for air circulation and start tossing in food wastes (avoid meat & dairy) as well as dried yard materials. Turn it weekly, keep it moist but not wet and you’ll have free organic material for your garden in a couple months.
There are a lot compost bins on the market for faster, easier composting if you’re willing to spend a bit more. They range from kitchen compost containers to the NatureMill Automatic Composter, which automatically turns your waste into rich compost in just a few days. They even make a deluxe model that composts animal waste.
The entire process should be fun and inexpensive. While you may spend a bit on your initial setup, you’ll save a lot of money over the life of the garden versus purchasing produce at the store. Remember that gardening is an art, not an exact science, so don’t be afraid to experiment as you learn to grow your family favorites!