Food is expensive. To feed a family of four, you’re looking at a monthly grocery bill of $400 at bare minimum, which is a huge chunk of your monthly budget (and it doesn’t include restaurants either). If you’re looking to save money on your grocery bill, you can try off-brand shopping, couponing and, a personal favorite of mine, gardening.
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’m pretty much a farmer. Some people even call me “Farmer Frank.” It’s not that I’m an actual farmer, I just enjoy gardening in my spare time. The best part about my hobby is that I actually save money by gardening. It’s like playing the stock market, but for fruits and vegetables instead of actual cash. So I guess it’s more like a stalk market.
It’s also a lot less stressful than the stock market. There’s just something so relaxing about going outside and working on something that doesn’t take a whole lot of effort but has a huge payout in the future – provided the weather stays somewhat sane in Louisiana. The best part is that I’m not even gardening in my own yard!
I’m involved in something called a community garden, which is a land that’s provided to people who may not have the ability to start their own garden. Since I live in an apartment, I thought it’d be a perfect way to start growing my own fruits and vegetables. In fact, I think more people should get involved in gardening and learn more about their community gardens.
What are the benefits of gardening?
There’s more than just one reason to start a garden. In fact, I can give you five reasons that will have you grabbing a shovel and starting to plant today:
- It saves money on groceries. Like, hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries. All you need to do is tend to the garden a couple of times a month after you plant your $2 seeds.
- It keeps you active. Who needs a gym when you’ve got a garden? You’ll be carrying heavy soil, squatting to plant seeds, and getting those daily steps in while you’re out in the sun.
- It’s super relaxing. Say what? But gardening sounds like a workout. How can it be relaxing? Well, it is. There’s no real hard push from all the activity you do while gardening. It’s bliss.
- You get some good “me” time. Let’s be honest here, we all need some time to ourselves every now and then to think and just do stuff on our own. Gardening is perfect for that.
- You feel accomplished afterward. I absolutely love the feeling of accomplishment I get from serving a meal that I grew, harvested and cooked for my family.
How can I get started gardening?
Whoa there! Before you can just start planting seeds, there are still a lot of decisions you need to make and materials you’ll need to buy. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take a whole lot of time, and the materials honestly aren’t all that expensive.
The planning is probably the hardest part about starting a garden—and it isn’t even hard! Getting started with a garden is a pretty easy task.
Yep, you can start a garden somewhere other than your house! How great is that?! No need to ruin your beautiful landscape when you have options, right? Most cities have community gardens that you can join in for a small fee. Like, $25 for the year kind of small fee. Pretty much the cost of a brand-new DVD.
Here are the main tools you’ll need to get your garden started and their average prices:
- Gloves – $5-$20, depending on your preference.
- Handheld Gardening Tools – $7-$20, depending on brand and type.
- Basket or 5 Gallon Bucket – $3-$10
- Seeds – price varies depending on type of plant and brand of seeds, between $1-$2 per pack.
The prices to get started range anywhere from $15 and up plus your $25 fee. Let’s say you buy about $5-$10 worth of seeds, which is enough to give you plenty of vegetables. You’re only paying about $45-$50 to plant plenty of seeds that you’ll be able to harvest when they’re done!
That might sound like a lot of money at first, but you need to think of it like an investment. Just like you put money in your credit union savings account to earn big interest, you plant the seeds and take care of them to get lots of plants in the future!
So what if you don’t have a lot of room in your backyard or don’t have a backyard at all? You can get involved in a community garden right in your city!
This is the easiest part! All you have to do is find one that has open plots and ask to be a part of it. Many of these community gardens are run by local churches or agricultural centers, so your best bet would be to start there. Give them a call or head over to see if they have one started up and ask how you can be a part of it.
If you can’t seem to find one, it doesn’t hurt to ask! These organizations are already be interested in helping out their local community, so there’s a good chance you can help give them to push to help the community get access to the land and tools needed to grow food for less than it costs to buy.
How money do you save by gardening?
Let’s say you plant ½ a pack of tomato seeds, which is about 26 seeds. These all can grow one plant each, which will give you about 8 pounds of tomatoes. That gives you about 208 pounds of tomatoes!
That’s not a joke. You can get a crazy amount of fruits and veggies from just one plant!
So if you normally buy tomatoes, which are now going for $4 per pound, you can save some serious money by growing your own. You might be saying, “Yeah, but how can anyone eat 208 pounds of tomatoes?”
Well, you probably can’t. But you can sell the produce or—even better—pass it along! Give some produce to families in need or donate it to a soup kitchen or the homeless in your city. Now you’re saving on your own produce and giving back to your community by gardening with your community! That’s worth more than you could ever save on food!
Have you tried your hand at gardening? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!