Spring is finally here, and that means the growing season is about to start! People everywhere are gathering up their garden tools and getting ready to break ground on their vegetable gardens for the year. If you’re a gardening newbie, growing your own fruits and vegetables in the backyard might seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, but you can actually save a lot of money by keeping a garden in more ways than you think! With a little bit of work, you can keep you and your loved ones stocked with delicious, healthy, garden-fresh vegetables all season long, and both your wallet and your kitchen will thank you for it. Here are some of the benefits of a home garden that can save you money!
Reducing Your Grocery Bill
This one is the most obvious: when you grow your own vegetables, you can spend the entire summer saving the money that you usually spend on produce at the grocery store. Who needs to agonize over the price of cucumbers when you have three or four ready on the vine right outside your back door? Just about anything you can buy at the supermarket, you can grow in your home garden, even some of the things that you might not consider growing yourself, like spinach, corn, or zucchinis!
Tomatoes are the perfect thing for a beginner gardener to grow– they’re pretty easy to care for, and the difference between a mediocre tomato from the store and a garden-fresh tomato straight off the vine is so stark that they’re practically different vegetables. Make sure you pick a spot with lots and lots of sun, and water your tomatoes generously to grow them big, ripe, and juicy!
Whether you’re chopping them fresh for salads or making homemade pickles, cucumbers always go over big. Because cucumbers are a vine plant, they can take up a lot of space, but you can work around this and help keep your vegetables off the ground by training the vines to grow on a fence or a trellis!
There’s a reason that zucchini bread is a popular baked good to this day: gardeners everywhere are always searching for some way to get rid of all their extra squashes. Zucchini is one of those vegetables that practically grows itself, and from sauteing in garlic and oil to marinating and grilling to baked goods, there’s enough different ways to prepare and enjoy zucchini that you won’t get tired of it all season long. Zucchini plants will thrive even more if you feed them, so having compost and/or fertilizer on hand will lead to lots of happy squashes.
As far as garden vegetables go, carrots can be very set-it-and-forget-it. The secret to growing good carrots with minimal effort is your soil. You want it to be pretty loose and loamy, and with no rocks, sticks, or other debris that could impede the growth of the carrots. Growing carrots in a planter or raised bed can work out great, because it means you won’t be walking on the soil and compacting it!
With a little soil and some elbow grease, you can spend the next year enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables that you grew yourself, right in your own backyard. Whether you’re a veteran or a beginner, by fall you’ll be patting yourself on the back as you reap the rewards of your hard work. Happy planting!
Helping You Stockpile for the Winter
Spring and summer will be flush with fresh veggies when you have a backyard garden, but keeping the produce you worked so hard to grow for the fall and winter is possible and can help you keep your grocery bill down all year round. Things like onion, garlic, potatoes, and carrots will keep very well through the colder months, and preserving more perishable produce can be as easy or as involved as you want it to be. If you want to spend a day making jams and canning your own pickles, you can do that, but if you want to give your harvest a quick wash and pop it in the freezer to add some color to a cold winter’s day, it’ll work just as well!
Avoiding Water Waste
Growing fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to mean running up your water bill. A garden is a great place to make use of your gray water, or water in your house that isn’t clean enough for drinking anymore but that isn’t dirty enough to justify going down the drain yet. You can easily leave a watering can right by the back door and empty the dog’s water bowl into it, or add cooled-off water that you used to cook pasta or boil potatoes. You can even set up a rain barrel, and let a thunderstorm give you the means to water your garden for days after the rain stops.
Providing Expensive Produce
We’ve all stood in the grocery store and wondered to ourselves what could possibly be the reason some of our favorite fruits and vegetables are so ridiculously expensive. When you have a home garden, you no longer have to fret over the cost of truly delicious produce! Expensive fruits and veggies like raspberries, strawberries, melons, eggplants, radishes, and more can all be grown easily in your backyard, allowing you to enjoy your favorites without breaking the bank.
Reducing Food Waste
Even when you know it’s not safe to eat anymore, sometimes throwing a sad, moldy vegetable away can feel like emptying your wallet into the trash can. Growing your own produce can help you avoid this! Fruits and vegetables stay fresher for longer when they can be left in the garden until you’re ready to use them, and any scraps you end up with or things that do go bad can be thrown into the compost bin to help keep future gardens growing strong.
These are simply the monetary benefits of keeping a vegetable garden. The perks range far beyond finances and can help you improve your health, cooking, mental health, and more. If you’re thinking about starting a garden for the first time this year, here are some of the easiest plants to grow that you can start out with! Remember to choose ones that you and your family already enjoy and will get the most use out of, and get ready to spend the summer feasting.