Grow Your Own Food

It’s been a long, rough day. A smart person would go to bed, but I don’t fall into that category.

It’s January, and this past weekend felt like it. This coming weekend is supposed to be just as bad. But yesterday was gorgeous, and so was today. These warm winter days always make me think ahead to spring, and then to planting our summer garden. I’ve wanted to write this for a while, and this warm spell seems like the perfect timing.

I’m a fixer, by nature. I see, hear, or read of a problem and I want to fix it. Obviously, I can’t fix the world. No one can. But I always want to. That tendency is what inspired this blog several months ago (I did mention I have wanted to write this for a while.) I was reading through comments on a grocery gift card give away on Facebook when the idea hit me. Of course, there were the ones who just had soooooo much wrong in their life and this gift card (a few hundred dollars, I think) was just what they needed to survive. **There is some a lot of sarcasm in that last sentence. I actually hate when people tell “woe is me” stories on stuff like that. It’s not like it increases your odds of winning or anything, but I digress.**

Anyway, I was reading comments about how expensive produce is and how it can be really hard to afford fresh things. I can agree with that! We eat quite a bit of canned fruit; frozen is a good option too, for both fruit and veggies. But fresh produce really can be expensive. Many of the people making those comments were pointing out that they were young, single, or on low incomes. Been there, done that. Young = busy. And to buy produce and not use it before it goes bad is really frustrating. Single = not eating that much. Again, frustrating to throw out mushy fruit or vegetables. Low income = can not waste money. If there is a chance it won’t get eaten before it goes bad, best to use the money on something else.

So, I was thinking how to fix this problem, because I’m a fixer and all. And I realized my family has already addressed the issue for ourselves, and we work to make it better for others close to home as well. For the past 5 years, my husband and I have had a garden. We grow our own veggies in the summer. And for the past 3 years we have also sold at local farmers markets. That’s when I realized how much can be grown in even very little space.

Tomatoes, peppers, squash, even onions, carrots, potatoes and lettuce can all be grown in pots. Granted, squash is going to grow out of the pot every which way, but the roots will do just fine in a pot. Young, single, low income people living in an apartment can grow some of their own food! And if they have a house with even a small back yard they can grow even more!

It is January though, so no rush to start planting. But it is time to plan — especially for low income families. By setting aside just $5-$15 a pay check for the next few weeks you can be ready to grow your own food and save $$$ at the grocery store, all summer, and into the fall in warmer areas. Tomato and pepper plants can all be purchased, relatively cheaply from home stores, or even Walmart. They can be grown in a medium to large pot, or just a 5 gallon bucket (a few dollars at the hardware store.) Squash grows well from seeds, and can again, be grown in a large pot. But squash will grow out (way out) over the edge of the pot so plan for that when planning space. A big deep tub or trash can will grow potatoes. A more shallow tub will grow lettuce, and carrots from seeds. Or a small tub will grow onions from “sets” available at home stores or Walmart. So, you can see, on a relatively small budget you can grow some food for yourself. And you only need 1 or 2 plants for more tomatoes, peppers, and squash than a family can eat!

The satisfaction of picking food off a plant and taking it inside to cook is really awesome too. Knowing that for a little money on pots, plants, and soil, you grew food for your own table is really pretty cool. Now, obviously you will want more variety in your diet than lettuce and peppers, but these are pretty easy plants to start with, and they free up some grocery money for other things.

Now if only, I could get all this information back to the people who were trying to win that grocery gift card…

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