Growing your own vegetable garden at home is an activity that can not only be fun and educational for the whole family but it help in offsetting the rising costs of food.
With the current economy, we are all looking for ways to cut our expenses. Growing our own garden has the potential to reduce the amount of money we spend on buying food (at least fruits and vegetables) but there are a few things to consider when determining if there is truly a savings in growing our own crops.
Depending on the scale of your new farming endeavor, the cost of starting and maintaining your own garden can cost you a small fortune. If your idea of a garden is a few tomato plants, then the costs will naturally be very low. Tomatoes can be grown virtually anywhere, even in hanging planters in the window of a big city apartment. If however, your idea of a garden involves a variety of vegetables, planted in rows like a mini farm, your costs will be considerable more depending on what resources you have available to you and what things you will have to buy to get started.
To get started with even the smallest of gardens you are going to have some start-up costs… tools and other gardening equipment, pesticides, fertilizers, fencing, irrigation and other initial expenses associated with getting your mini farm going. The key to making your home garden a money saving endeavor is to limit the costs.
More than you can handle
There’s nothing better than the taste of vegetables that you have picked straight from your own vegetable garden, but chances are you will end up with more vegetables than you can consume. This is where having a plan for what to do with your harvest can determine if your vegetable garden is going to be the source of savings or an exercise in futility.
Unless you plant just one plant for each type of vegetable you are growing, when the time comes to harvest your crop, you will likely have more vegetables than you know what to do with. Unless you have the ability and knowledge to can and preserve your vegetables, or an industrial size freezer, there is going to be a lot of food go to waste. You must keep this in mind when starting out, the initial cost of setting up your home canning department can cut into your realized food savings.
Depending on the yield of your garden, you could however consider taking the produce that you don’t need to your local farmer’s market or depending on your location, starting your own road-side produce stand.
While there is no doubt that growing your own vegetables has the potential to save you money, there are other benefits that are equally important…
Better taste and freshness – homegrown vegetables arguable have a better taste than any vegetable that you can buy from your local grocery store. The majority of the fruits and vegetables that you find in stores have been picked early and allowed to ripen during their transport from the farm to the store, and while sitting on store shelves. The food you grow will come straight from the garden to your kitchen.
Eating healthier – your homegrown vegetables will not only taste better than their store-bought counterparts, there is a good chance that they will be better for you too. With the likelihood of you using far fewer chemicals on your produce than a commercial grower, your crop will be safer. The other added health benefit is that once you are growing your own vegetables, it is likely that your family will start to eat considerably more fruits and vegetables than you used to… leading to a healthier lifestyle.
Stress reliever – Many find that working in their garden is a great stress reliever. Working in the soil with your hands, watching the plants that you planted as a seed start to grow into something that will soon provide you with food, can be very soothing and rewarding.
Brings the family together – having a home garden shouldn’t be an individual activity. Get the whole family involved, especially if you have kids. This is a great opportunity to show kids exactly what it takes to that tomato or ear of corn from the ground to the dinner table. Working in the garden can be a family activity that everyone can enjoy.
If you have decided to give farming a try, even on a small scale, and your ultimate goal is to save money, be sure that you plant the fruits and vegetable that you actually like to eat. A good way to figure out what to grow is to take a look at what you buy at the grocery store now. For instance, if you never eat beets or radishes, don’t plant them.
There’s no doubt that when you first start out you will have some failures and successes along the way… but that’s the fun of it.