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June 13th, 2007 at 09:01 am

If the motto is "You are what you eat", then I am officially cheap, fast and easy.

But I'm not getting any younger (and my butt isn't getting any smaller), and I'm finding that I feel like lead. Sticky-fingered, powdered-sugar lead.

Also, a lot of my friends are vegetarians of the thrift/DIY movement/recycle movements. Although they never really talk about their food choices out polites towards my unapologetic carnivorousness, I'm starting to rethink my own food choices (something about being influenced by the company you keep.)

So I've been trying to shop more locally, and organically, and also in bulk to reduce packaging waste. But it occurs to me that maybe I could grow some stuff on my own? I live in a fertile area of the country: we don't have a long growing season (long winter), but we get a fair amount of rain and moderate summers.

But where to begin? I've started on lettuces in peat pellets and some herbs but that's it. I thought I was going to be moving (changed the mind) so I didn't start as early as maybe I should have?

In any case, I have a small sunny patch (maybe 3feet square) to work with. I know I need to buy some dirt (the dirt back there is pure clay), and I've priced that out in bulk as well. The dirt mix alone is about $30 for me. My mom says, make a raised bed.

Does anyone here garden, and is it worth the initial $$? I don't want to spend a lot of $$ and find that it was cheaper overall to just buy from the store. I was thinking I could do carrots, lettuce, beans, tomatoes (I have the plants for those already).

9 Responses to “Gardening?”

  1. fern Says:

    Contrary and i both garden; she has a gardening website you could check out from her home page i think.

    If you're looking to do it purely as a cost-saving measure, i'm not sure all the work will be worth it, especially if you have buy lots of topsoil.

    But if you are a foodie and appreciate the superior taste and freshness of homegrown produce, give it a shot!

    You could also go with dwarf varieties of things like cukes or tomatoes and grow them in pots, like i do.

  2. annab Says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! I'll definitely check out those blogs.

    I just don't want to lose a ton of $$ on it. I have a teeny space, so I'm hoping to maybe break even in 2 summers? Like if I did lettuces, carrots and herbs for 2 summers (maybe some broccoli?)

    I'll definitely look at the blogs. Smile

  3. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Oh it is Del Monte west at my house in the fall.

    OK, first do you compost? Get some and start working it into the poor soil. Dig and mix several inches down making it as uniform as possible (the clay will be hard to break up). It is good exercise and don't complain!

    Choose easy things to start, you will be confident if you are successful early. Great easy summer veges:


    Tomatoes - Just do ONE or TWO plants. Cherry or grape tomatoes first, not beefstake! Or a hardy species your store recommends for your climate. These plants get BIG. Buy an inexpensive tomato cage (it looks like an inverted siphon) or you can stake the plants as they grow with extra sticks or lumber. Make the cage or stakes quadruple what you think you need! I'm not kidding!

    Bell Peppers-Just do a couple due to your space restrictions.

    Zuchinni-These take a lot of room, but are easy and prolific. Make a mound (like a big anthill) and put a few seeds in a little depression at the top.

    Corn-Needs more space, save for another year. It needs to be put in several rows (like a square or rectangle) to cross pollinate itself, or the ears will have those 'missing' kernels.

    TIPS: Fertilize your plants when you first put them in the ground with inexpensive Miracle Grow.

    TIP: All summer vegetables need full sun!

    Lettuce and broccoli are winter crops around here and are hard to grow. Save those for a few years away.

    GOOD LUCK! My husband is a great gardener and we give away alot of extra!

  4. contrary1 Says:

    I vote with your mom. Make a raised bed, don't dig up your clay & poor soil. Let it rest in peace. (also better on your back this way)
    When pricing soil, don't think dirt, think compost. I buy mine, since I can't make enough for the garden beds. It is usually a mix of dairy waste and garden wastes. Most cities now have several companies doing this, as it is the 'green' way to go.
    Since I don't know where you are, no idea if it is too late as you say. But, all your salad sorts of crops can be sown every couple weeks through the summer, so you should be able to get in a couple plantings of things like leaf lettuces, scallions, radishes & the like. Our area is pretty sold out of veggie starts, but there are still seeds available for the salad mixes.
    Anything is better than nothing.....and nothing at all tastes as good as your own home grown food. So satisfying to care for it, pick it and then serve it.
    Do check out the web site too....tons of info there & always new stuff too.

  5. scfr Says:

    Well, this may not help you for this year, and I am the farthest thing from a gardening expert, but feel free to check out my blog (the $20 Challenge Category) because I am trying out gardening for the first time and my challenge is to see if I can make it a profitable venture. [My initial budget was only $20 because of the challenge, but unfortunately I went a bit over budgetand am charging myself interest on what I went over.]

    I am now "in the red," having spent my initial set-up costs and having done only a few little harvests, but watch and see what happens as the summer progresses ... I am still quite hopeful that I can get "in the black."

    Learn from my mistakes and successes! Better yet, why not make it YOUR $20 Challenge and we can have a little friendly competition?

    Good luck to you!

  6. Broken Arrow Says:

    I like cheap, fast, and easy....

    *scurries off*

  7. LuckyRobin Says:

    Two books to check out are Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza and All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew. These are the absolute best books for beginners. The first one tells you the easy way to make raised beds contents and the second one helps you make the most advantage of your raised bed and gives detailed and more importantly easy, instructions on how to build the bed itself and how to plant in it according to the sun exposure. Very simple and you don't need a botany degree to understand either of these books, they are just straight-forward and no nonsense.

    You should recoup your expenses fairly quickly. Herbs alone will do that. I'd suggest though, that if you plant herbs to plant them in pots, not in your raised bed. Most herbs are spreaders and they will take over your bed.

  8. LuckyRobin Says:

    Forgot to say, if you are interested in making your own compost, the best book to learn how to do that is Let it Rot! by Stu Campbell.

  9. LuxLivingFrugalis Says:

    I did the lasagna gardening when I first moved here to get started. Easy! And loose leaf lettuce is really quite easy to grow most places...one tip, don't pull the plant when you are ready to harvest, just snip it off about a 1/2 inch from the ground and it will keep supplying.

    I used those landscape logs (flat on two sides) to start my raised beds. Buy or scrounge six, cut two in half (the lumber yard will do this for you). Makes a long rectangular shape. Two long ones stacked for long sides and two short ones stacked on each short side. Find someone with a big treed yard and ask them for their old leaves. Talk to neighborhood gardeners about their gardens and see if they have too much of any thing they'd care to share w/a beginner!

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