Growing for savings

I grew up with gardens, my grandparents had about about a half acre garden, and there were lots of green beans and tomatoes in our house. I have always enjoyed having my hands in the dirt. I found an organic farm down the road from me at my old house, and started helping there in the summers. That gave me a whole new education on growing, and diversified my experience. We moved a bit further from that farm, so I don't help out (though this year I am again because their sales are already through the roof!).

I sent him a message when all of this pandemic stuff started to explode and said "I'm thinking about putting in a garden here..." His reply: "PLANT THE [email protected] GARDEN."

OK!

So now we have two 4x8' boxes, and 98 onions, and 16 purple potatoes went in yesterday. There goes one box.... I've still got tomatoes and green beans to plant, so that's going to be the entire other box. Hopefully I'll have enough room for it all. I have an asparagus crown to plant (though that won't give me anything until next year of course).

Also in the works are small moveable chicken coops to raise broiler chickens in so that we can have our own meat. This is (again) something that we talked over with some friends of ours back before we had to move. Then we had a really well built and fortified coop on the farm we were living on that we could use. THAT would have been SO much easier. But now we have to get to work building something that will be suitable, instead. We have a lot of leftover lumber from tearing down our old shed (it was built solid, but the floor and wall sheathing were rotted, we also didn't like it sitting where it was), so that will make the frame. We are planning to build two 4x8' coops, so they are moveable, and smaller. We'll raise about 30 birds at a time, split between the two coops. A friend has offered a couple sheets of T1-11, so we'll use that for the sides of the coops. Our friends that want to split the birds with us will also help pitch in for any of the materials we need to purchase. I'm aiming to get at least 2 batches of birds in, hopefully 3 before it gets cold, which should be enough to provide us with chicken for a full year for both their family and ours.

I'm really proud and happy that we are able to do these things, we have the space and ability to manage it (and lord knows we're not traveling... 馃檮 so no worries on needing someone to care for the chickens while we go away).

Is anyone else growing or preserving their own food to help save? Anyone have any questions about growing things in small spaces or want to know more? I've learned a lot, and am happy to share to help people save on their own budgets.

I honestly believe that our food supplies are going to continue to struggle as this pandemic continues. I think that some of the fallout won't become apparent for a while because the food supply is often a slow moving thing as things have to get planted and then harvested later. Controlling what I can about my own food supply is one way I can manage these issues, and it helps my budget along the way!

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    • Melissa
    • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
    • todays_mel
    • 4 mths ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    Starting an edible garden has been something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I'm not naturally gifted with a green thumb (or that's how I feel about it anyhow - I can keep all of my indoor ZZ and Snake plants alive though because they only need water once every 2-3 weeks and I ignore them otherwise). I even bought a couple of books on gardening about 10 years ago.  One of them is the Square Foot Gardening book (I forget what the other one is) since I have a tiny yard, about 14' x 30' total; but I got overwhelmed with how I would even start or what to plant, etc.

    My mom is an avid gardener, with a really generous lot for the suburban neighborhood she lives in. For as long as I've been alive, she has always had something growing year round (flowers, herbs, vegetables, multiple fruit trees, etc...). She even composts and mulch's all her own material and never uses pesticides. She's giving me clippings of some things, but nothing has ever survived the transplant, or my care.  I've killed rosemary, mint, basil, tomatoes, sage, and bell peppers and probably more that I can no longer remember... 

    I don't know how to get over that fear of going to all that start-up work just to end up killing everything, even though I realize that that's not an excuse to not try. I think a large part of my fear is also not being able to recreate what my mother seems so naturally able to do (she's also retired and spends almost 5 hours everyday in her garden, which is not feasible/reasonable for me). 

    Do you have any advice for those of us whose thumbs might be less than green (like gray-ish)?  (Or is it along the lines of the advice you received of:  just "plant the [email protected] garden!"? 馃檭)  And for reference, I live in the Phoenix AZ metro area, so we've got some pretty intense summer heat to deal with.

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    • Melissa I've also really been bad at keeping house plants alive but I've been slowly working at my vegetable skills in my apartment for the last 2 years. The most rewarding thing for me were cherry tomatoes and strawberries - they're pretty easy and give a real feeling of accomplishment when you pull a few off to nibble on as you walk by. The bigger veggies are ok but somehow not as thrilling!

      The main point is just to put a plant in the ground. It may not be perfectly tended or fertilised or whatever but that doesn't matter AT ALL. Just put it in the ground. You can learn more later if you're interested but you don't have a chance at a strawberry if you don't plant it!

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      • Melissa
      • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
      • todays_mel
      • 4 mths ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      shortattentionspan You are right! 馃槉I'll never have an edible garden if I don't start somewhere. 

      I need to start small and not try to have a master garden already planned out in my head (I've watched too many Monty Don gardening episodes!).  So instead of beginning from seed, I need to allow myself a bit of a cheat and find a small cherry tomato plant at the garden center, and nurture it into giving me some tasty 馃崊馃崊!

      And then I need to remind myself that gardening is a learning process, and it's OK if I don't get things "right" at the beginning. 

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      • Ivory Storm
      • Ivory_Storm.3
      • 4 mths ago
      • 2
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      Melissa Something that has helped me is looking around at what my neighbors are doing. For instance, in many gardening books, summer is assumed as the gardening season. But, in states like yours summer is probably more of a hibernation season and I would guess spring, fall, winter would be the productive times of year.  I finally got a beautiful flower garden by not buying things at the garden store, but by looking at the plants I saw in neighbors yards & on hikes and trying to remember what I saw and buying only that. It's just another idea!
       

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    • Melissa Aww, I feel the same way sometimes. And I'll admit, I don't have the greenest thumb. I tend to kill houseplants because I forget to water them. I've actually killed a pathos plant, which you're not supposed to be able to kill at all.. so there's that.

      But as others have said, you won't succeed at all if you don't try something.

      Is there a nice garden center (not like a lowe's but a small mom and pop type place) somewhere near you? Those types of places generally have really knowledgeable people working there that are patient and can answer lots of questions and help get you started in the right direction. I agree with another comment - buy plants and not seeds. They're easier to work with, and the only real trick is putting them in the ground at the right time, but that's not that big of a deal.

      If you're working in pots, they need a LOT more water than you might think. I've killed a lot of things in pots, so if you've got room to plan in the ground directly, that's always a bit easier to keep things alive.

      And as someone who has been around veggie gardens for quite a while, I can say that almost ever garden gets away from the gardener by the time high season hits. Late summer here and everyone's gardens are looking weedy and ragged, and barely hanging on. And there are usually tomatoes everywhere, sometimes rotting on the vine because you just can't keep up. So it doesn't have to look pretty be productive, either. A functional garden is better than a manicured one.

      I hope to see pictures of your adventures soon!

      Like 1
  • @farfromtheusual I've been getting a lot of info from various YouTube channels. I love Charles Dowding and Huw's Nursery, who are in similar climates to mine, but I also get a lot of info from Roots and Refuge and Self Sufficient Me who are in warmer climates. MIGardener has lots of info also although his videos tend to be much longer and more repetitive than really needed imho.

    I'm also really getting into watching permaculture channels like Geoff Lawton and Happen Films. Happen Films has two videos, Degrowth in the Suburbs and The Plummery which I find incredibly inspiring.

    Anyone have any other YouTube gardening suggestions?

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      • Melissa
      • Routinely questioning every assumption I have about my budget, my spending, and my savings habits.
      • todays_mel
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
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      shortattentionspan  I discovered Epic Gardening on YouTube a few weeks ago.  He's based out of California (not sure exactly where), so his climate is more temperate than where I'm located, but I enjoy his instruction and ideas on how to create (and eat from) an urban garden.

      https://www.youtube.com/user/EpicGardening

      Like 1
    • shortattentionspan I looked up The Plummery and am hooked!

      And  Melissa , "I'll never have an edible garden if I don't start somewhere." Thanks for voicing that. Planning to take it to heart and start somewhere myself as well...

      Because farfromtheusual, I would love to grow food. For savings as well as a smaller footprint. Only don't get over the treshhold. Thanks for the push :-)

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    • Powder Blue Pony You are officially, lovingly, pushed!! Yes, just stick something in the ground and start there!

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    • farfromtheusual 馃榾 Thanks!

      Like 1
  • I'm wanting to garden for the very same reasons (and chickens too), but so far it just seems to cost a lot of $ that I want to keep in my emergency fund! So I scaled back my ambitions. Your building skills are priceless!!

    Like 1
    • Ivory Storm You can do it on a budget, and be thrifty about it. It really doesn't take a whole lot, depending on what you want to do. If your ideas are outside your budget, see how you can scale back, or source things for free/cheap. freecycle and nextdoor.com are really great places to pick up stuff for free, or super cheap, and you can also place wanted ads for them.
      What kinds of things are outside your budget at the moment? Maybe we can get creative together to work out a way around that.

      And, that being said, a garden doesn't have to be pretty. Starting somewhere qualifies, and is better than nothing! Onions and garlic are some of the easiest things to grow, though they do take a bit of patience (at least on the part of garlic), and they can be grown in some pretty ugly places. They also are some of the best veggies to store long term, and they are rarely bothered by bugs!

      Like 2
    • PhysicsGal
    • Nerdy female homo sapien
    • physicsgal
    • 4 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    I just started back up on my veggie garden and I'm so excited about it!  I have chickens too, but for laying, and for the wonderful chicken poo for the garden, but I haven't gardened in a few years because my water bills were already so high with my Airbnb.  But now I don't have any guests, and I'm not sure when I will have guests, why not garden again?

    This year I'm also going to try to save my seeds for next year, which I've never done before.  So that will save me even more money.

    I just spent ~$100 on seeds, a few starter plants, and a watering timer to connect to my soaker hoses so I don't need to remember to water.  I can't wait to see those big plants in my yard and start to eat food grown in my own back yard :)  And eat my tomatoes, garden tomatoes are the best!

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