We had a pretty cold weekend a few weeks ago so I waited a bit to get my garden planted. After we got everything planted we headed in and canned a few jars of strawberry preserves. They are so good! I make them lower sugar than what you get in the store, so they are better for us to eat. There's nothing like opening a jar a preserves that you've made with your own hands.
That brings me to my next frugal things we do post. Gardening and preserving. It sounds like alot of work, doesn't it? It does involve some effort, but the reward is great. I just read a great post by Kate, at A Simple Walk, called Spending time to save money.
Many times we feel that it's just not worth the effort we have to put in to save a little bit of money. "Time is money," as they say. It's so much easier to pick up that jar of preserves already canned for me, or to pay extra for the many vegetables I can grow and put up for my family. I do still have to buy some vegetables, but I long for the day where I do not.
I would have said that it was cheaper to buy your vegetables rather than grow them a year ago. With the price of fresh produce skyrocketing, it has once again become cheaper to do it yourself. We are coming to a time where we need to step back and reevaluate how we are doing things.
You can save your family quite a bit of money by gardening. Not to mention it provides food that is healthier too. I keep reading over and over of all of the produce recalls due to ecoli and salmonella. It's a little scary.
One of the best things about gardening is that it can also create precious family memories in the process. My children love to help plant and harvest the garden. The older ones are involved in picking out the plants we buy, they help with the placement of the vegetables and the upkeep of the garden. Even the littlest ones get in on the fun. Although it is usually just to dig in the dirt. It is a team effort.
That being said, even though my garden takes a little more work than going to the grocery store, I am always on the lookout to make my job a little easier.
This was our very first little garden. It is the way we used to garden. We worked hard to get that garden in. This was about 4 years ago. It took us the whole weekend to finish it. We had to till up the ground. Buy dirt to make the mounds and then plant. We had an ok harvest, but it cost us more to build it than it would have to buy the vegetables ourselves. It was great fun though. We did learn one thing that year, don't plant your garden next to a pine tree. One, the limbs fall off frequently and sap will get all over your plants.
After gardening the traditional way for 2 years we decided to try raised bed gardening. More specifically, Square Foot Gardening. While I don't follow exactly what he does, I do come pretty close. Here are some of the pros we have found by using this method.
- We can raise many more vegetables in a smaller area.
This is great since we have a city sized lot. You can even make a small box on a balcony or patio.
- It is also cheaper to do after the initial investment.
Now that we have our beds built, we just add a little compost before we plant and that's it.
- It is easier to get going.
This equals not as much work.
- One last pro, barely any weeds!
It takes us a few hours of work to get the garden ready for the planting. Then we spend maybe an hour or two a week watering, weeding, and harvesting the vegetables. That's it!
Here's a few tips to make gardening more frugal.
1. Make your own compost.
You can put a small bin in a corner of your backyard in which you put your raked up leaves, grass clippings, food scraps(no protein), tea and coffee grounds, shredded newspaper, and a little manure to heat it up. Your garden will love you for it.
You can also find free compost at your local compost facility. Most areas have one. Look in the blue pages of your phonebook. You might have to let it break down a bit more before you use it though.
2. If you want raised beds, be on the lookout for cheap lumber.
To build our beds we used 2 x 8's. I would suggest asking friends for lumber, going to your local habitat restore, even going to construction sites and asking for leftover lumber.
3. Grow from seed if you can
You can start most seeds indoors and then transplant them. It's a cool science experiment for the kids to do if you'd like. They learn all about the germination process. One packet of seeds usually equals the price for one plant to transplant.
Gardening can be frugal and a wonderful thing to do. Go ahead and try it! Of course, if you have questions just ask.
I'll finish up with preserving tomorrow. This post is already long enough.