Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Save Money, Eat Well and Reduce Stress With A Home Garden

When times are tough, people tend to look inward for sustenance and stability. Your backyard would be a good place to look also. Home gardening is the trend now, with gardeners hoping to save money and connect with their own personal world through growing their own vegetables.

During World War II, Americans planted victory gardens to cope with food shortages. In 1943, 20 million gardens were planted and those gardens reportedly produced 8 million tons of food.

Just as then, Americans are now concerned about saving money. Can you reduce your grocery bills by planting your own victory garden? Yes but the trick here is to keep those garden start-up costs low. If you are going for raised bed gardening, by the time you get the lumber and compost, the costs could range up to $80, but that’s a one-time cost and next year you’re good to go with the same setup.

Tilling up a patch of land, or incorporating your vegetables into the existing landscape is less costly. You can further reduce your costs by ditching those chemical fertilizers and insecticides. You really don’t need them, and there are many easy, homemade insecticides that will get the job done.

Seed companies estimate that business is up 20% this year, which points to much more interest in home gardening. By this time though, you’re better off investing in seedlings, like tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce and herbs.

Missouri State Extension horticulturist David Trinklein says as little as $50 invested in plants and supplies can yield as much as $1,200 in vegetables. Fairly good gardeners can achieve 10 to 15 pounds of tomatoes per plant while a simple garden with a variety of vegetables can fill a family’s salad bowl for about six weeks. Gardening also brings health benefits. Home gardeners who are exposed to nature have better mental health, are more physically fit and eat healthier foods.

Ideally, your home garden will be a family affair. Everyone pitches in and not just one family member is out there hoeing away. A pizza garden is a great way to get the kids involved. Plant peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley, basil and oregano in a circle to resemble a pizza, or rows will do just fine too. Sprinkle marigolds in the pizza garden to represent cheese and watch how much more interested your kids will be in gardening.

Saving money with a home garden is a reasonable goal, but eating good, clean food at the dinner table after a pleasant evening digging in the dirt is what will really make gardening an important part of your life.

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