AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Do You Save Money by Growing Your Own? DATE: 2/07/2009 09:20:00 AM ----- BODY:
Today’s Boston Globe featured an article promoting vegetable gardening as a way to save money in these challenging economic times. I have always enjoyed growing my own vegetables, but I would never tout it as being economical. Unless, of course, you have inherently good soil in your yard.

The house I live in was built in 1929 during the era of lead paint and asbestos. My neighbors (who have lived in the same house for over 50 years) tell me my backyard was paved over before developers dug it up and put in a lawn. When I moved in, I started a garden. I picked out the sunniest spot and started digging. Just inches below the grass were bricks, concrete blocks and assorted debris and rubble. The first summer, I dug out two patches – 8 feet by 4 feet – and replaced the “dirt” with a mix of peat moss, manure and top soil. I built up the patches with raised beds so that I had a solid foot of good soil. Each bed had, literally, 800 pounds of fresh dirt. And I moved every pound of it. The next year, I built two more raised beds… my backyard became a patch work of crab grass and vegetables.

Finally, two summers, I excavated the entire backyard and filled it in with rich soil. Okay, this time, I didn’t do the work, but I “supervised.”

Before... (can you see concrete blocks and bricks mixed in with the dirt)

After....
The tomatoes I grew were worth their weight in gold. But you can’t put a value on the pleasure I derive from gardening… coaxing fresh vegetables from the earth... to know that within 30 minutes, I can harvest an eggplant or salad from the garden and serve it for dinner.

Given the constraints of good soil, one can still make economical choices when plotting a garden. Stay tuned for tips on how to get the most from your gardening dollars.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:2/07/2009 11:03:00 PM It's so optimistic to plan your garden while there's still snow on the ground. Can't wait to see what new things you'll put in this year. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger giz DATE:2/08/2009 12:19:00 PM There's something for you on our blog ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:2/09/2009 02:49:00 AM wish I had time to garden, howver since I'm planting a vineyard, I guess I'm doing it on a large scale? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:2/09/2009 06:53:00 AM Lydia, Not too much -- I need to start seeds indoors by March 15 if I want to maximize the growing season which seems too too short in New England.

Giz, Thank you so much!!

Noble Pig, I think that counts! Sounds exciting! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sylvie DATE:2/10/2009 06:45:00 PM I don't know if it savings money. At some level, it is, because I am growing most of our vegetable and some of our fruit, and we spend a lot less on food this year, while eating quite well- but we spent money (and yes, we are tracking all of our expenses). I also don't need to pay for the gym, getting plenty of exercise. I think my health is better. Mostly, I love doing it! Do people grow flowers to save money? play golf to save money? when are we going to accept that good food is not the cheapest? OK end of rant... smile ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:OpenID ayardandahalf DATE:2/11/2009 12:14:00 PM Couple things:
1) You don't have to be rich to fix a lead-laden yard. You can gradually bio-remediate for lead if you are planning to garden for the long-term. Sunflowers, geraniums, etc. uptake lead and need to be removed to garbage instead of composted after the growing season. Also, adding organic matter will help bind up lead & other toxins.
2) It's a little thing, but we're growing sprouts & microgreens in our kitchen for the winter. Keeps my 3-year old happy, and keeps us from getting bored with our root-cellar produce. Sprouting is *definitely* a money saver! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:2/12/2009 07:18:00 AM Sylvie,

You bring up a great point of all the side benefits of gardening too!

ayardahalf, Thanks for sharing the tips about sunflowers and geraniums. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous HOMEGROWN DATE:2/17/2009 05:12:00 PM Tons of projects and instructables at www.homegrown.org
Other non-monetary benefits include the connection to your food, the land and to your community. That's what I call heart-healthy. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger jeff f DATE:2/18/2009 10:28:00 AM We have been ripping up our lawn and making raised beds. I think the initial cost is a expensive but after the first year the cost go down.

If you get into growing from seeds instead of buying tomato plants and so on you can save a lot of money.

I'm going to be doing this this season.

The price of a bag of good organic seeds is between $1.70 and $3.60 for 100 or more seeds. One decent tomato plant is about $3.00 per plant.

Making compost from kitchen scrapes will save a lot on buying fertilizer. Make mulch out the leaves from the fall, this stuff is gold and free. ----- --------