Friday, February 13, 2009

Frugal Living Friday: Gardening

Welcome to Frugal Living Friday! Each week I will feature a tip that can help us stretch our budget and live more frugally! If you have a tip that you want shared on Frugal Living Friday, let me know and you could become a guest blogger for a day.

I love to garden! But I don't make it any more difficult than it needs to be. I have found a very easy, weed-free, and fun way to garden: Square Foot Gardening! This will be my third year planting a Square Foot Garden and I love it. I will never garden any other way again! Square Foot Gardening (SFG) is ideal for people like me who have a small yard or no yard but still want to grow fresh vegetables, flowers, and other produce. Here was my garden in August of 2008.

The basic jist of SFG is that you can plant more in less space. And, you garden in boxes using a special soil mix. It equates to no weeds (weed seeds are in regular soil and you don't use regular dirt!), no rototilling, no sweat! Just plant and enjoy. See those tall plants by my sunflowers growing over the fence? Those are my tomato plants! (I grew those from seed myself, which I explain below.)

I highly recommend the book, All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Check it out from your library first before you buy it. I am glad I purchased it however, because if you are going to garden this way, you need it as a reference. I am always looking up information in there. Because of time and space, I won't go into more detail here about SFG, but if you have specific questions, I would be glad to answer them for you.

The other part of gardening that I discovered last year was growing my own seedlings. If you have ever gone to a nursery you know how expensive gardening can be! Tomato plants, flowers, herbs....they are usually around $5 a pop. It can add up if you buy all of your plants. Last year I wanted to save some money gardening. So I planted all my tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplant, and marigolds from seed.

In the SFG book there is a chart in the back that tells you when to plant seeds indoors before transplanting them outside after the last spring frost. I took this photo of my seedlings in May of last year, and they had been growing for about 5 weeks or so before that. As you can see from my full grown garden above, these seedlings took off once I put them in my garden....and my harvest was bountiful! All from seeds I planted myself. I saved around $50 doing this. I already had most of the seeds from the year before, so I didn't have to buy many seeds. I am starting my own seeds this year too. I am trying some new seeds this year: cauliflower and melons.

WHY GARDEN???? Because it is cheaper than produce at the grocery store, because YOU grew it so you know what's in it, and it's fulfilling being self-reliant! Remember the tainted spinach last year? Since I grew my own spinach it was nice I didn't have to worry about that for my issue for my family. If you have never gardened before, start small...grow a few plants to see what it's like. I have expanded my garden every year after I know what we like and don't like, and what grows well in my area.

Call your local county Extension Office. They will give you gardening information specific to your location and tell you when the date of the last spring frost is in your area.

Here are a few links to help you out on your gardening adventure!

Hardiness Zone Finder
Companion Planting
Drying your own Herbs
Mother Earth's Garden



luvmy5boyscora said...

Marne, thanks for posting about your SFG! I am so excited to have a garden again this year. We missed it so much last year. And the year before, we moved in the middle of the produce coming on. We gardened in boxes, but used regular topsoil. Now that we get to create a new garden space, I may switch a couple things. I am going to check the book out and might just have to pick your brain a bit. Have a good day!

Rachelle's site said...

Thanks for the tips! I love to garden too. Nothing is better then a vine ripened tomatoe!

Stacy said...

I have wanted to do this for so long. I have a huge yard, but the SFG seems so much more managable to me than planting a huge garden. Besides I have some picky eaters at my house. I really will check out that book. Thanks for the tip - it's about time to start thinking about starting those seedlings.

LeatherneckJoe said...

Gardening is one of the most satisfing things a person can do. If you are going to start your own seed, think about using certified seed. This type of seed will guarantee you are getting the plant you want.

Mama said...

We did a square foot garden last year, but yours is so much more impressive! I'm bartering for plants this year that a friend of mine grows, but hope to save some seeds for next year. Great post!

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