I have been living frugally for years. I coupon, go to thrift shops and do whatever I can to save money. However, over the past couple of years I have been trying to feed my family almost entirely organic foods. I have read about all of the health benefits of eating foods that are fresh, local and organic. However, the prices were always so intimidating to me. So, I decided to learn how to grow and raise my own food.
My first year was a struggle. I felt like I could kill anything that I planted. So, I began to do a lot more research. I built up my soil with nutrients and kept trying. I am so excited to say that as of the last two years, I am able to provide food throughout the entire year for my family of five from my garden!! It has saved us SO much money.
We purchased our seeds the first year. We spent a good bit of money on seeds that were heirloom, non genetically modified, and open pollinating seeds. As a result, we are able to save our seeds from our produce to reuse year and year. This makes the produce from our garden virtually FREE after that initial purchase.
I am now able to feed my family of five on about $20-$25 a week on almost exclusively organic foods. I have never felt better. My daughter’s asthma is more under control, and I feel like my family is so much healthier. In addition, we have been able to save a ton of money so that we are completely debt free other than our house that we are aggressively paying off.
There are so many different ways to garden for every person’s lifestyle that anyone can grow at least a few vegetables for their family.
If you have limited space, you can always do container gardening. I use container gardening for my plants that require more sunlight. Most of my property is woods, and I can easily slide my containers over halfway through the day to give them some extra sunlight. Container gardening is an easy way to garden. Here are some advantages of container gardening:
- Container gardening takes up little space.
- Containers can be moved to get sunlight if needed.
- Containers have loose soil already. This means no tilling, and your seeds will germinate and produce easily.
- You should not have to weed your container gardens since they are up from any grassy areas.
- Takes very little time to plant or maintain. (Great for a busy lifestyle.)
Another type of garden is landscape gardening. I have slowly been turning my yard into an edible landscape. For bushes, I plant herbs such as sage that produce beautiful flowers. Rather than liriope, I plant bunch onions. I plant lettuces as a border around my flower bed. Carrots have beautiful green tops that I plant between my flowers. In fact, until a few generations ago, most front flower beds had carrots in them for decoration and eating. For ground cover plants, I plant strawberries. This is such an easy way to garden. You can just make changes to your natural landscape. It is also a great way to garden for those of you that live in neighborhoods with home owners associations that don’t allow a traditional garden. The other reason that I love this type of gardening is that I can just walk out my front door to grab some fresh herbs and lettuces for dinner.
The third type of gardening that I use is raised bed gardening. I live on a couple of acres of land. However, almost all of it is wooded. I only have a few feet that get enough sun for a garden. I use raised beds in this area to grow my fruits and vegetables. I am always on the lookout for old shelves, trundle beds etc. to make raised beds. I have also made raised beds from purchased wood. You can check out videos here about how to build raised beds. I raise the majority of the fresh fruits and vegetables that we eat throughout the year in my raised garden beds.
Here are some advantages of raised beds:
- Little to no weeding since you place the soil into the bed.
- Loose soil that can be nutrient rich from the beginning. This aids in seed germination and the amount of produce you get. If you want to try to get the perfect soil, you can check out my post here.
- You can raise much more produce per square foot than you can in a traditional garden.
The fourth type of garden that I use is a traditional tilled up garden. This is a very large garden that I share with four other families. Each year we add compost to build up the nutrients in the soil. This garden provides food for all four families throughout the year. This is where I get my produce that I can, freeze, and dehydrate. We canned about 3,000 cans of produce last year from this garden for our four families. In addition, we were able to dehydrate our herbs and freeze berries and other produce for use throughout the year. It takes a lot of work to till up such a large area, and we spend 3-4 weeks working at least 12-14 hours a day picking and canning this produce. However, that month of hard work pays off for the next 11 months, and is very worth it to me and my family.
I really hope that all of you are able to plant at least a few vegetables this year to help with your food bill, plus provide your family with healthy, fresh and organic produce!
Rene is the author of Budget Saving Mom. She writes her blog to encourage others to save money through organic gardening, couponing and freebies.