You’ve likely heard of Super Couponers who can buy $500 worth of groceries for less than $20 by buying what’s on sale and using multiple coupons. While it’s impressive to see how little they spend out of pocket, what’s not so impressive is how many hours they have to spend searching for coupons and matching them with the sales.
Besides, have you seen their carts? They’re usually filled with almost all processed foods.
If you value both your time and health, Super Couponing may not be the right way to go. Still, most of us spend more than we would like on groceries, especially now that prices are being affected by last year’s drought.
One way to save and still eat healthy food is to grow your own garden. Best of all? Gardening takes a lot less time than chasing deals and coupons. However, too often people don’t garden because they don’t have room, or they think it takes too much time or is too complicated.
I Don’t Have Room to Garden
I hear you. We rent a house in the suburbs, and the last thing our landlord wants is for us to dig up the yard and plant a garden. If you live in a condo or townhouse or live in a large city, you may not have room to garden either. Still, there are solutions.
Container Garden. If you have a balcony, why not try container gardening? If there’s nothing you like better in the summer than a salad with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, why not grow those vegetables on your balcony? Tomato plants can grow in a large pot with a tomato cage, and you can also grow cucumbers this way and teach them to climb a tomato cage. Our enterprising neighbors planted cucumber plants at the edge of their yard, and the plants grew up their chain link fence.
Join a Community Garden. Cities around the United States offer community garden plots. For a nominal fee, you plant in a square foot garden at the community garden. We did this last year and grew an amazing amount of food in such a small space. Our grocery bill in the summer was much lower thanks to our garden.
Have an Herb Garden. At the least, you can plant small containers of herbs like basil, oregano and parsley and grow them in your kitchen. Herbs are expensive, so just growing a few of these will save you money off your grocery bill.
Gardening Takes Too Much Time
Undoubtedly, if you have a large garden that will be able to provide your family with all of their vegetable needs for the summer season or longer, you will spend quite a bit of time tending to the garden.
However, smaller gardens require surprisingly little time. For our 4′ x 8′ square foot garden I spent about 2 hours a week tending to it. I wouldn’t have had to spend that much time if we hadn’t had the drought. I had to water much more frequently than normal. Container gardens will take even less time.
Gardening is Too Complicated
Think of gardening as a hobby. Just like any other sport or hobby, you’ll get better at it the longer you do it.
The first year you garden, don’t expect impressive results. Just garden for the experience, and you’ll be rewarded with fresh produce.
The next year, you’ll know a little bit more and have a better yield. Each year that you garden your yield should be better and better.
Don’t forget to ask other experienced gardeners or to check out books from the library. One book I found especially helpful was Gardening for Geeks by Christy Wilhelmi. The Internet is also a great place to learn more. There are even gardening forums where you can ask other gardeners questions.
During World War II, “20 million Victory Gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these homes and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables” (Living History Farm). The people who planted these gardens were just everyday Americans who wanted to make a difference–and they did.
Americans are a long way from our agricultural roots now, but you can still make a difference in your own personal bottom line by planting a garden where ever you are able to.
Do you garden? If so, how much do you save on groceries?