Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Get Your Green's- Can Veggie Gardening Save You Cash?


Me: It's March 1st- that means it's time to think gardening!
Mr. Frugal Rock: Wait, what?! In the snow?

Last summer, I had my first raised vegetable garden...with some mistakes. One thing I learned that broccoli isn't easy to grow well. From one avid gardener, I was told that I watered them too much- from another I heard that I planted too soon. Seems like every gardener has an opinion. Either way, I'm hoping for a rematch this summer: Mrs. Frugal Rock versus broccoli. I did learn that zucchini, and beans do well- not to mention beets and radishes. Even two watermelon grew...much to my surprise..

So why start thinking about summer gardens now? First of all, spring is coming fast. To help reduce costs, I grow seedlings indoors starting 30-60 days before they need to be planted outdoors. Buying seed packets only costs less than 2 bucks for a lot of seeds. It's also easier to find greater variety of what type of plants or vegetables you want to grow. In the summer months, if you go to a big box store, they may have 1-2 varieties of cucumbers, but online there are TONS of different seed varieties to choose from. Don't want to grow indoors? You can always purchase plants from any garden store in May or June, but prepare for a higher price.

Here in the Midwest, where the Frugal Rock calls it home, May 15 is the general rule of thumb (green thumb hopefully) for outside planting. That means March 15 is my first day of indoor planting for anything that needs a long germination time. Last year, while I grew a lot of veggies, I didn't pay any attention to the actual quantity grown or how much was saved on groceries during the summer months. Anecdotally, I believe that we saved funds during the summer months, based on what felt like lower grocery bills but alas, scientific it was not! At the very least, it was nice to grow food for ourselves confident that they were free of pesticides, but this year I'll have my spreadsheets ready to go to see how much it cost versus saved. I love me some spreadsheets!

On a side note, for anyone out there with gardening interest, I use the square foot gardening method to maximize my growing space. This technique is where you plant each vegetable in it's own square foot of space (some veggies like carrots you plant 10-15 in a square, where others take up the whole square, or even multiples). I had an eight by eight space last year, and this year, I'm hoping to drastically expand that. It didn't take too much convincing of Mr. Frugal Rock to get rid of more of our grass for garden space. We have been slowly decreasing our grass space since moving into our home by adding a patio/pergola, some bushes and a raspberry patch, but I love of the idea of eliminating mowing, and using our yard space for our very own garden.

Here's the list of veggies I want to grow this year:

Tomato's (hope to make salsa this year)
Lettuce (a few varieties)
Peppers ( a few other varieties)
Yellow/butternut squash

I plan to keep track of my spending all the way through, from the seeds I germinate, to the plants I buy. What I'm hoping to learn is whether the amount of vegetables I grow offsets my costs. Basically, if I grow enough that it saves me enough to justify the costs. Now of course there are other reasons that I began to enjoy gardening other than just trying to save money. I love spending time outdoors in the summer months and have always felt most content when working outside. The physical exercise is a bonus too, but I'm curious if an argument can also be made to garden for food to save money. Get ready for some veggie gardening- Frugal Rock style- as I try and answer the question, can a veggie garden save you money??

PS. I literally jut saw this garden bean tunnel online, and I'm in love!

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