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Grow food, save money

2011 March 31
by Katy

After a long winter of grainy, flavorless produce, spring always has me craving the sweet deliciousness of summer fruits and vegetables… but it always kills me to pay so much for them!  I have always wondered how much you would really save growing your own.  The experts and American consumers agree that you can, in fact, save enough money for it to be worth the hassle.

Planting strawberries for a container balcony kitchen gardenThe overwhelming consensus among bloggers and forum participants online is that you can save a ton of money growing your own food… but, of course, how much is dependent on how much food you grow.

It’s not just the online community that’s buzzing about gardening to save a buck.  In 2008, the New York Times did a piece on the dramatic increase in home gardening after the start of the recession.  The world’s largest seed company, W. Atlee Burpee, saw a 40 percent increase in vegetable and herb seed sales over the course of a year after the start of the recession in 2007.  According to the article, “Seed companies and garden shops say that not since the rampant inflation of the 1970s has there been such an uptick in interest in growing food at home.”

In 2009, USA Today interviewed the same seed company for a similar article where the company’s president projected yet another 25 percent increase in sales that year.

In the spirit of saving money and starting a fun, new project, I started a garden on my balcony last year.  After learning a few lessons the hard way, I’m expanding my repertoire to include a greater variety of higher-yielding plants this spring.

Best plants to grow to save money

Some people say to save the most money, you should plant the most expensive food in the grocery store.  I thought about going that route – growing asparagus, artichokes, etc. but decided to plant the fresh foods I eat the most instead.  My thinking is that I can eat what I grow often with this strategy, splurging for the most expensive foods on occasion rather than having a constant supply of fancy treats and no substance foods.  If, however, you have a larger space than an apartment balcony… many people do… you may consider growing some of those “fancy foods.”

Planting a container balcony kitchen gardenHere is a list of what I’m growing this year.  It might not work for everyone, but hopefully it will give you some ideas.

Growing Herbs in a Pot:

The great thing about most herbs is that you can crowd them.  I have a large container (a square that is about 2 ft. x 2 ft.), and I plan to fill it with:

  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Oregeno
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint

Growing Vegetables on a balcony or porch:

  • Tomatoes
  • Jalapeños
  • Red and green bell peppers
  • Edamame (Soy)

I grew squash and zucchini last year in Chris’ yard, and it was a great investment.  Neither of us have a yard this year, and I didn’t have enough room for them on my balcony.  I read that you can train certain varieties to trail up a trellis rather than spread like crazy, but didn’t find any solutions that were small enough for my space.

Growing Fruit in a Pot:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

(I would have planted raspberries, but they’re supposed to be much harder to grow than the others in this region of North Carolina… maybe next year!)

Best varieties of plants for container gardening:

This article by Texas A&M is a great resource that lists the best varieties of plants to put in containers.  I used it as a base when buying my plants.  I’ll be sure to let you know how the different varieties turn out!

I will also be following up with tips and tricks I’ve picked up on growing several of these kinds of plants over the next few weeks, so be on the look out if you’re looking for more information on growing your own kitchen garden!

As always, we’d love any helpful hints you might have!  Have any recommendations for last minute additions to our garden?? Leave them in the comments :)

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3 Responses
  1. September 6, 2013

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