Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Thrifty Garden Experiment: How Does Your Garden Grow?


I'm curious: how much does gardening really save us on grocery bills? I want exact numbers! This year I'm back to gardening (the original reason I started blogging!) and I'm going to track every cent I spend growing my food and herbs. I'm glad I took a break when life was frenzied, now I'm ready to apply knowledge gained from failing previous years to be successful this year.

I'd love for you to join the challenge and grow a plant, even if it's just one frequently-used herb or one vegetable! To help you start, I'll share my beginner gardening tips. Learn from my crippling defeats!


Start Slow: It's easy to get garden fever and bring home way more plants than you can handle. Start extremely slow, sow or bring home one to three plants and slowly work your way up.

Hit the Library: There's obviously the web and gardening sites and blogs (My favorite is You Grow Girl, but gardening books are incomparable. Read, be inspired, and take that knowledge to your gardens.

Plan it Out: Sit and think about your gardening goals (what do you want to eat all year?) and determine action steps needed to reach them. Keeping a garden journal or blogging your progress is helpful.

Be Cheap!: Stores hawk useless garden "necessities", resist! Ask friends and family for unused pots, check curbsides and craigslist for free or cheap gardening supplies. Comparison shop for necessities and start composting for fertilizer. Save yogurt containers for seed starters. Make it a challenge to spend as little as possible.

I'll share many gardening updates throughout the year! I'm excited to get back into the dirt. Are you growing anything this year? Any gardening dream or plans to share?
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13 comments:

  1. I can already tell I will like this new gardening series of yours :-) Moving from Virginia where everything seemed to grow like weeds (oh, those delicious tomatoes and okra) to Maine (where my current shady house sits on granite close to the sea and the winter is long) has impacted my gardening enthusiam for sure. However, this year I am determined to get creative and do a lot of gardening in pots and containers. I also love to garden in frugal ways and get my kids involved too. They love having their own little plants :-)

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    1. Ouch, that move sounds brutal on the garden-lover's soul, but I know you can prevail. I love how my nieces are always so enthusiastic about gardening, kids absolutely love it and it teaches them some valuable lessons along the way.

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  2. In the 70s, my dad always started plants, veggies and flowers, it yogurt containers, Big Mac boxes-- when they were made from styrofoam, etc. It got to be a joke-- Dad could start plants in this! But it did work! And they were free!

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    1. Heck yeh, can't argue with free! the sight of a seedling sticking out of an old coffee can or yogurt string pulls at my heartstrings, too, the juxtaposition is beautiful. Nature and the unnatural, joining forces.

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  3. My father-in-law (who lives with us) has a big veggie garden in the back yard. Plenty of Japanese vegetables (cucumbers, eggplant, uri, etc) that get pickled throughout the year. I'll have to find a small spot to grow some fresh catnip. Thanks for the idea!

    (Where in that apartment of yours, are you going to grow catnip, without Yuko getting into it?!) :)

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    1. I'm growing nearly everything in my boyfriend's backyard with the exception of herbs for cooking, wheat grass to juice, and greens for salads. I'm casually leaving the cat grass around for Yuko to munch, we can't wait to get her cat-shit crazy on the kitty crack that is cat nip! Jealous you guys already have luscious Japanese veggies going in the back yard :D

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  4. Awesome! I'm just starting on mine with rosemary and mint. I'm also regrowing from clippings (green onions). Looking to pick up flowers around the end of next month. Your ideas about yogurt containers and craigslist are great!!!

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    1. Yum, I love me some rosemary and mint, cooking and tea essentials. I need to get our sunflowers in the ground, I can't wait to have cut ones all around the house. I see pots on curbsides all the time, garden supplies are so abundant it's easy to save on supplies. We just have to be sure to sanitize second-hand pots in warm water and hydrogen peroxide in case they have fungus or plant diseases within ready to choke life out of our seedlings.

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  5. I can't put in my real garden until I rip out a giant Rhododendrun this Spring but I bought some green onion seeds this week and am starting them this week in the house - a frugal houseplant!

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    1. Great choice, it's that really makes a difference in cooking. I'd love to build a nice windowbox for herbs but I'm still trying to figure out how to keep Yuko from knocking it down. Good luck ripping out the rhododendron!

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  6. We torn down our garden this past summer as we didn't have the time to properly manage it. However, I still have the garden fever so I'll probably being doing a few small pots or a small flower bed.

    It actually takes quite a bit of space to plant common veggies, so I would make sure you have adequate space before starting too many plants.

    Also, if you are Native American you can receive 10 free seed packets from Native Seed Search based in Tucson, Arizona. They used to offer 30 free seed packets but cut it down this year to 10. You just have to pay for shipping which isn't too much. They mostly have heirloom seeds that are native to the Southwest and do well in dry/hot climates.

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    1. I didn't know about the free seed packets for Native Americans, I love that! Thanks for sharing the tips and some of your garden story. We're starting small with an herbs, greens, and two to four small veggies in BF's back yard.

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    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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