It’s the middle of winter – ice coating the trees, mailboxes, and streets outside my window. Yet, my thoughts are already turning to spring – birds chirping, flowers blooming, and me prepping my garden for this year’s growing season. Now is the time to start planning your garden so that you are ready to go with garden tools, top soil, fertilizer, seeds, and starter plants when the weather warms up!
Produce isn’t cheap – especially organic produce – and coupons for fresh items can be hard to come by. Growing a garden is a great way to save money and have plenty of fresh veggies all summer long, if it’s done right.
My husband, Nick, and I are accidental gardeners. Two years ago, Nick was sick and tired of spending top dollar on “vine ripened” supermarket tomatoes that tasted bland at best. He went to our local nursery and bought several varieties of tomato starter plants. Honestly, we didn’t put much thought into planning the layout or care of our tomatoes. We learned the hard way that tomatoes need full sun and lots of watering. We also learned that rabbits, turtles, and deer love tomatoes as much as people do!
Here are some tips for making your garden great!
- “Research, research, research!” is the advice I received from my friend (avid gardener and novice chicken farmer), Jessica Conner. Research what plants do well in your particular climate and how much care and attention they will need. Be realistic about how much time you and your family will have to tend your garden plot and choose plants accordingly.
- “Start small,” says Melissa Van Oort of Helena, Montana. If you start too big, you may get overwhelmed and give up. You can always expand your garden next year! If you’re a beginner, Melissa suggests trying a “salad garden” – growing lettuces, spinach, cucumbers, and maybe a tomato plant or two. You can even try growing fresh herbs, strawberries, or cherry tomatoes in containers on your back porch for starters.
- “Involve the whole family, especially the kids” both Jessica and Melissa agreed with this sentiment. Melissa’s three children have their own garden tools and are in charge of certain garden chores like weeding and watering (with supervision). Jessica says she’s amazed at how her boys are much more likely to gulp down veggies that they helped to grow!
- “Understand that growing or raising anything is an investment,” Jessica says. It’s an investment of time, labor, and money. She estimates it will be several years before she fully recoups the investment in her egg-laying hens. However, with a vegetable garden, your return should come much sooner than that. Besides, there is nothing like being able to walk out your back door and gather up fresh herbs and vegetables to make a great meal for your family!
Christine Luken is a Coupon Queen, Financial Coach, and author of the e-book, “Confessions of a Coupon Queen: Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You to Know.” She has a passion for helping families save money so they can build up their savings and pay off their debt. Christine lives in the Greater Cincinnati area with her husband, Nick, and two cats, Peanut and Little Tiny. In her spare time, you can find Christine on the golf course, at the mall shopping for shoes (coupons in hand!), or at home watching cage fighting with her husband. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her website: http://yourstrongtower.com