Monday, May 9, 2011

Healthy on a Budget - Plant Veggies & Herbs

After watching the documentary Food Inc. last week I am now more determined than ever to use my $100/week cash budget to buy only healthy food for my family.  Please join me in my quest for finding ways to stay within budget and be healthy!

Right now is the time for gardening, at least in Wisconsin.  I'm realizing more and more that you don't need a lot of space to plant a few vegetables that will help supplement your healthy diet and help you keep your budget low this coming year.  The great thing about planting your own veggies is that you know exactly how they were raised; and there is something satisfying about providing food for your family that you grew!  At a recent MOPS meeting I learned a bit about Square Foot Gardening and am waiting for a copy of the book by the same name from the library.  The idea is to create a raised bed garden that is easy to maintain.  We have plans to do this on the side of our house where there is a lot of sunshine.  

Another gardening method that I recently read about on is Foundation Gardening and I realized that I was already doing this to some extent and why not do more.  Last fall I wanted to plant some garlic, but didn't have a vegetable garden, so I decided to plant it in my flower bed that receives the most sun and happened to plant the garlic along the foundation.  These were the first plants to come up in my garden this spring.  The extra warmth that the concrete/brick foundation holds and reflects from the sun helps some plants to grow even better than they would away from the house.
  We moved back to WI last spring and since life was a bit hectic at the time we didn't plant a garden, but we did use a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and picked up fresh organic vegetables every other week that came directly from local farms.  I do, however, love my fresh herbs, so I planted a large pot with a variety of herbs.  When summer was over I transplanted a few of the perennial herbs into my existing flower beds.  Now I already have chives, oregano and lavender coming up this year.  Some of the herbs I moved into smaller pots to keep indoors over the winter.  My basil and thyme lasted most of the winter and would have lasted longer had I taken better care of them.  My sister-in-law has a very small and steep yard, but she has the most amazing tomato plants every year!  She plants them along the side of her garage - a very sunny spot (that also has the benefits of the sun reflecting off the wall and staying warm longer).  So don't give up hope if you don't have a lot of space for a garden, sometimes the best locations are already there!  I plan on planting some beets, spinach, kohlrabi and leaf lettuce in my shadier flower beds as they do not like the heat as much as tomatoes and basil. 

If you have no yard at all, but have a porch that gets a lot of sunshine, you still can plant some herbs and vegetables!  Try container gardening.  Our house in Milwaukee had a very shaded yard, but I was determined to grow some veggies.  So I used our sun deck/porch for tomatoes and herbs.  It had full sun most of the day.  My herbs did great, but my tomatoes got blossom rot - not really sure why, but I'm sure I did something wrong.  Container gardening can be a great way to grow a variety of veggies, just be sure to read up on it and be diligent about watering your plants.

Even if you have never planted anything you can learn how to have a productive garden in your space by finding information on the internet or by checking out books from your library.  And the great thing is, this won't cost you a dime!  Of course the supplies you need will cost some, but in comparison to what you would pay for the same organic vegetables in the store or at the farmers market - it is mere pennies!  So, go ahead and start planning your garden!

Join me next week as I plan to discuss couponing and how clipping and printing coupons can save you money on organic products.

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