With winter out of the way, now is the perfect time to start planning a garden that can help you shave a few dollars off your grocery bill later this summer. While it won’t save you thousands of dollars or put fast cash in your pocket like a signature installment loan, if you’re smart about how you set up your garden you’ll actually be able to eat well while reducing your grocery bill.
Interested in trying your hand at it? Here are a few of our favorite tips to save money with a family garden.
Before your garden can save you money, you’re going to have to invest in it. That being said, you should try and minimize your startup costs as much as possible. For example, while it may be tempting to buy starter plants that are already established from a nursery or a local retail store to jumpstart your garden, they are much more expensive than growing from seed and will substantially increase the cost of your garden. Planting seeds will take a little more care and time, but it will save you a lot of overhead.
Another place you can reduce startup costs is with the landscaping involved with your garden. For example, say you want to edge your garden with bricks to create a nice defined border from the rest of your yard. That seems reasonable, right? But what you’ll quickly find is that the perimeter of your garden is no doubt longer than you initially realize and that while bricks may be cheap individually, added up they’ll cost more than your garden will save you in the long run.
The next step to planning a successful garden that can save you money is choosing the right plants to grow. The truth is that just as some flowers are more robust and prolific than others, some plants are easier to grow and yield far more produce than others. For this exact reason, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and lettuce are all fundamental staples of any successful and money-saving garden project.
Another strategy for saving money is to grow plants that may not produce as much as the ones listed above, but what they do produce is more valuable. Herbs like thyme, parsley, and basil are a perfect example of this. Herbs as a whole are expensive to purchase at the grocery store, so being able to just go outside and pick off a few leaves when you’re cooking is an effective money saving option.
Something we didn’t talk about when it comes to startup costs is just how expensive good, nutrient-rich dirt can cost you if you buy it from the store. It is not, despite how the saying goes, dirt cheap. And while there’s nothing you can do about it for this season, if you’re planning on keeping your garden for next year, starting a compost of your own is a great way to cut down on the costs involved in keeping your plants well-fed and productive.
To get started with a compost of your own, just dedicate a container in your backyard where you can toss weeds, leaves, and leftover food (excluding meat, fat or bones). Pretty quickly insects, worms, and microorganisms will start chomping through it and leave behind nutrient-rich dirt you can use to feed your plants next year.