Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The DD's Comprehensive Guide to Saving Money by Growing Your Own Food

It's a cold Saturday morning in October as I am writing this, and strangely I am writing an article on growing vegetables to save money.  Isn't gardening more of a spring/summer thing?  While that may be true, I love being prepared, and vegetable gardening is no exception.  Even when I plant the first seeds in the ground when the weather gets warmer, I am envisioning what I am going to plant for next year's gardening season.  I think most experienced gardeners are like that, too.

I'll show you how to grow corn on the cheap!
That said, this article will be a continually updated guide on how to save money on your food budget by growing your own vegetables.  This is my very first rough draft of this guide.

It seems almost silly when I'm "planning to plan," but it helps me organize my thoughts.  Since I have a pretty selective topic for this guide, I am going to assume that most people reading this have at least some experience gardening, particularly with growing vegetables.  To help keep the content of this guide somewhat original, I am going to forgo the gardening basics (e.g. locations to plant, amount of light, watering, which plants prefer cold/warm temperatures, ect.).

If you don't have any experience with growing plants, I would recommend reading some beginner gardening articles and trying to grow some plants for one season first.  GardenWeb is a great site for beginners to get their feet wet.  Gardening is a hobby where experience can be the best teacher, and there are literally hundreds of people with years of experience that participate on the GardenWeb forums. 

The Guide Outline (so far):

  • Planning what to grow
  • Where to get seeds for the best price
  • Soil mix
  • Planting
  • Maintaining plants
  • Composting and Fertilizing
  • Pests
  • Diseases
  • Harvesting
  • Seed saving

 I want this guide to be one of the most comprehensive resources on growing vegetables as frugally as possible.  However, although this isn't my first attempt at growing vegetables (or any plant, for that matter), it WILL be the first time I try to maximize production while minimizing cost.  That means the first few versions of this guide will be more of an experiment than a definitive source of knowledge.  When I make new discoveries or changes to my overall plan, so too, will updates be made to the guide to reflect what I've learned.  Over the course of time, I hope to make this guide more and more accurate--in prices and in results--but keep in mind that the first version of any product, including my guide, will not be perfect.

I encourage any gardeners reading this to follow, replicate and/or improve upon my suggestions, and I welcome any advice on how to make vegetable plants more productive, or how to grow them cheaper than I do (including costs related to setting up an initial bed, soil and water).

Organic leaf lettuce, straight out of my 2013 garden

Everything aside, I hope you enjoy this guide and reap a bountiful harvest of food on the cheap.

Click here to read Part I: Compost

ADDENDUM 03/15/2014

I want this blog to be a reliable source of accurate information, so in the interest of being as forthcoming as possible, in my own garden, I apply many of the frugal ideas found in the guide, but I don't necessarily follow it to a "T".  I don't feel as though this invalidates any of the advice in my guide, however.  If you are a first-time gardener, I recommend you start small (regularly repeated in my guide, too).  And all the frugal tips and advice in my guide are perfect for a small garden.

For example, I recommend using hand tools, like a simple shovel, from the Dollar Tree store for digging in the garden.  I have a Dollar Tree shovel and I use it regularly, but I also have a very large shovel for larger areas that need to be tilled.

If you end up enjoying gardening, and you want to expand your gardening area, you may want to invest in a wider variety of tools, which costs more money.  However, most items like this are a one time cost and will return your investment within a few growing seasons.  You can also still use other frugal tips to keep most of your growing costs down.

Also, not everyone will be able to utilize every part of my guide in their own garden.  Some people may not even have a garden.  Still, like I stated above, you can take whatever parts of the guide that are applicable to you and save on food costs by growing your own food, no matter how small.

This guide is not intended to be perfect, but it is a culmination of my knowledge on growing as much food for as little money as possible.  Thank you for taking the time to read the guide, and I hope it helps you, at least in some way.

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