Sunday, March 15, 2009

Be More Self-Sufficient

Let's face it, if you don't have something you need, the easiest thing to do is to get it from someone who has it. When it comes to food, most of us get what we need by buying it from the grocery store. There are definitely times when that is unavoidable, and it's one of the biggest expenses here at our house. Okay, so we can't stop going to the store for a lot of our needs, but we can cut a big chunk out of what we spend there by having to buy less. How do we do that? No, we're not planning on booting out any of our kids--haha. But we are planning a garden.

Even if you think space is an issue that would exclude your from this option, keep reading, there is usually a way around this.

In our area, the general rule of thumb is to not plant anything until after Mother's Day--about the middle of May. We use to go and buy all of our tomatoes, squash, watermelon, pumpkin, cucumbers, cantaloupe, peppers and everything else at the garden centers. They were already started for us, and we just took those leafy greens out of their pots and transplanted them in our prepared soil.

We'd tried the seeds before, but the birds got them all, and we never got so much as a baby carrot. Instead of putting our thinking caps on, we gave up on them and would drop about $80 or so on the starters.

This year, we're planning ahead. My hubby got the idea to start our seeds inside. We didn't even come close to spending $80--It was $20 at the most, and with the seeds in each pack, we'll have so many more starters to transplant than our previous seasons that it's laughable.

We've done our homework. We're going to start them next weekend, giving them close to two months before we plant them outside (lessening the risk of freezing). We've saved up our cardboard egg cartons, have potting soil, are getting some florescent light bulbs and setting up shop on a big work table in our garage. For information on lights for your seedlings, you can go here. From what we've read, windowsill light is not always enough.

We've been enriching our soil with grass clippings and manure (fun stuff). And will also be picking up any extra soil or compost we need at the local landfill (saving quite a bit).

Another way to save with coupons, receiving email and postal mail offers, and also get gardening tips is to sign up for Home Depot's Garden Club, or Lowe's Learn2Grow Garden Club. You can even sign up for both and get double the offers and tips. We also have signed up at our local nurseries for offers and email tips. Look in your area to take advantage of those avenues.

We've already planted strawberry, raspberry and boysenberry bushes last year--along with several fruit trees. While the fruit trees won't produce much this year, the fruit bushes should do pretty well.

Not everyone has a lot of space for gardening, and in those cases you can look into container gardening, or even a garden box in your yard. It's a lot of fun, tastes so much better than store bought and gives you sense of accomplishment you can't get by going to the grocer's produce department.

So if you haven't considered doing this before now, you're not too late. If I can do it, anyone can. I didn't grow up doing this, but I wish I had! If you end up growing more than you can possibly use, then you can move on the the next step for self-sufficiency and start canning your harvest!

Happy Growing!

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