Grow your own

vine tomatoesIf you’ve been reading the news recently, then you know that there is a food crisis gone global.

At the time of writing, the price of rice in the U.S. has increased more than 3 times that of early 2007.  Moreover, oil is approaching $160 a barrel, meaning that food delivery cost is out of control.

All the signs are headed for an apocalyptic future where only hippies, cockroaches and people with frugal gardening skills will survive. The reality of the matter is that things are going to get worse before they get better. The relationship between the price of oil and the integration of our society to clean energy resources will probably results in a terrible slump where one of the best possibilities of frugal living will be growing some of your own food, while avoiding the need to mix with processes that require oil usage. 

Learning to grow food is not that hard. The principles are amazingly basic:  Get some dirt, add a seed, add water and find sunlight.  But it will take a little practice and experimentation before you find your flair and start producing a worthwhile amount of your own food. However, just think of the savings!  Also having a hobby may stop you from spending money in other areas of your life.

When designing your frugal-living garden, it’s important to look carefully into the conditions you have available to you in order to decide what crops you can grow that yield the most food. Take into consideration the depth of soil, amount of sunlight and climate.  Then do your research to make sure it is worth your while.

Get the right tools for the job

Most people already own most of the gardening tools that will be needed.  If not, don’t go to your local home depot and spend a fortune. Cheap garden tools and equipment can be found easily on sites like Craigslist and eBay.com, as well as at local garage sales or second hand shops.

Start with basics, before you know it, you will have a stockpile!

I’ve always believed one should start with the basics.  A great way to start your self-sufficient growing is to begin with herbs. Herbs can often be grown in window boxes, a section of your garden, or even indoors. With a little TLC, they can grow like crazy.

The seeds for many common herbs are very cheap, but as you get skilled you may start to learn how to grow them from cuttings. If you know a local group of like-minded frugal friends, then you can easily acquire a large range of herbs (and other foods for that matter) for absolutely zilch!

strawberriesThere are many other yummy, high yielding crops to consider your start. Many can be grown in containers.  If you find a sunny spot, they will produce a lot of food for the cost and the work. Tomatoes (which require lots of sun) are ideal and very useful in the kitchen. Green beans grow fast.  Cucumbers, zucchinis and bell peppers are also said to be high producers. Easy fruits include strawberries, blackberries and raspberries- all great brain foods to help you think up your next frugal plan!

As you progress, things will get easier and before you know it you may be producing a quarter to half of all your fruit and vegetable needs during the spring and summer months.  Plus you will be saving a large wad of money! This is something worth working towards, as one day we may need to rely on getting all of our food this way.

Keep your eyes on the prize

With any new hobby, waiting can be frustrating. Sadly, food does actually have to grow.  Therefore, apart from a few wonder plants, it could take a while before you have a regular food cycle. Do not be tempted to start buying up expensive magazines or new dangle equipment to help with growing. You may ened up spending more money than you save and this defeats the purpose of frugality!

Keep it simple.  Set your goals and keep reading from the internet- apart from your monthly costs, the internet is mostly free and in many cases the only resource you need.

Resources and further reading

It would be ridiculous for me to give all the information here about home gardening. Especially as so many before me have written extensively on the subject.  Instead, I have gathered some resources from around the web that are helpful for beginners and intermediate food gardeners:

eBay.com: A great place to buy cheap gardening equipment, seeds and much more.

Verdant.net/food.htm Info, articles and links to help you get started with your home food growing.

WVU A great page explaining simple techniques for growing your own herbs. Also explains many herbs in detail.

About.com Container Gardening A quick, easy article to get your started with container gardening.

Frugal Families – Frugal Food Growing A great article to make sure you stay in the green when growing your own food.

Frugal Dad – How to build a square foot garden – Step by step guide to frugally building your own veggie patch.

If you know of or think we should add anymore resources please let us know.

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