The world economy is becoming more and more uncertain. Major currencies are based on confidence rather than on tangible things such as gold. Whether people are the gardening type or not, people are starting to turn to gardening at home to save money.
As energy prices and water prices increase each year the food prices also increase. This is never going to slow down in this world. The best way of adapting to this is to start buying locally grown produce from the grocery store, and to get even more local – your own home and backyard.
What to Grow
The biggest hurdle for me when deciding how I would get into gardening was, “what to grow?” Sometimes it’s the cost of food that may stop us from trying out fruits and vegetables that we are not familiar with, especially with herbs, there are so many of them to grow that are hard to find in a standard grocery store. In this regard, gardening is a way to try new things. It’s great to experiment, but “will I end up eating it?” So, there still needed to be a real immediate benefit from it, meaning that I would grow things that I would want to eat regularly so I could save money. When planting vegetables you generally end up with baskets full of produce that you have to give away before it spoils, and this is something I wanted to avoid.
Grow Your Own Berries
When thinking about food that I could grow, that I love, and that generally costs a lot of money to eat a lot of, the first thing that came to mind was berries. The first plants that I started with were raspberries, and everbearing strawberries (garden strawberries). Normally I wouldn’t eat so many berries because of the cost, so to grow these healthy berries was a real plus to me financially and health wise! Garden strawberries can be difficult to keep the animals away from and they are susceptible to various diseases, but the raspberries were a lot more hardy, takes minimal care, and it is much easier to get a great harvest from it all summer long.
Blueberries can be difficult for the beginner as they require the proper soil conditions (acidic soil). A much easier plant to try is the wild strawberry. Wild strawberries are easy to grow and require little maintance. For growing information, check out this article on how to grow strawberries.
If you have slightly acidic soil these plants will thrive. While the berries are much smaller than garden strawberries (the ones you see in the grocery store) the wild strawberries are much more flavourful and sweet. And they seem to thrive will minimal care.
Something that can be used everyday, especially when cooking is herbs. Whether you are putting a frozen pizza in the oven, or making spaghetti you can always be adding herbs to your food. Herbs are loaded with health benefits for us and especially loaded with flavour. Many herbs such as basil are much better when used fresh. At the grocery store 100 grams (just under 3 ounces?) of fresh basil is usually around $3. And basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow! While basil is not a perennial (perennials come back every year), there are many herbs that are, such as oregano, thyme, sage, lemon balm, dill (not a perennial but it reseeds itself). A herb garden is one of the easiest and less time consuming gardens to get started. If you have children at home, then a herb garden can be very educational for them, they will be able to experience the variety of rich flavours that herbs provide, and this is something that can enrich their lives for when they start do their own cooking later in life, or if they even end up working in the culinary arts.
Grow Beans for an Easy Crop
One of the best and easiest vegetables to grow in your garden are beans. Growing beans at home taste much better than the store bought ones. The fresher the beans are (picked within hours) the greater the taste and texture. Beans that I grow in my garden every year are green beans, also known as string beans, and yellow beans. You can eat them raw and in my opinion they taste better that way. Vegetables seem to lose their complexity of flavour after so many hours after being picked, and by the time we buy them from the grocery store a couple days may have passed. The two types of bean plants are pole beans and bush beans. Pole beans can grow up to 5-6 feet, where as bush beans will grow around 2 feet tall. The major difference is just the height of the plants.
Easy Lettuce Types to Grow
Lettuce is a very popular vegetable that could easily be used every day. Lettuce at the grocery store is pretty cheap and taste great, but there are many other varieties out there that you can only try from growing it yourself. Despite the claims of being low in nutrition, iceberg lettuce is healthy for you. Many have said that it is just mostly water and not as nutritious as other leafy greens, but it is still loaded with phyto-nutrients and a source of fiber. No one really knows the full extent of just how healthy one plant may be over another, as the science is relatively young when it comes to food. Any type of lettuce you eat will have fiber and many other beneficial factors. Richly coloured lettuces do tend to be richer in nutrients, whether it is deep green or a deep red or purple.
Some great varieties to try are oak leaf lettuce, salad bowl lettuce, and buttercrunch. Growing lettuce is well worth the effort since it is something you will probably eat often.
An interesting thing with lettuce is that it is a cold hardy vegetable and will actually taste sweeter when grown in a colder climate. If you were to grow it in a cold frame or in an insulated container with a clear cover, you can start your lettuce very early in the season and have the best tasting lettuce around.