April 24, 2008
Growing Some Grocery Savings
The rising cost of groceries is scary, but at least we're heading into the growing season and you CAN find ways to save, both now and for next winter. We've looked at these things before, but they're worth repeating...
What can you grow this coming summer? Even if you have very limited space - think city apartment with a small balcony - you can grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce using buckets. Container gardening has become very popular and there are many specially-bred smaller varieties of your old favorites available. If nothing else, you should be able to have a small salad garden if you have even just a square foot or two of space. Think vertical too...a pyramid frame set into a bucket or a small piece of fence set into a deep rectanglar window box, either can support several plants well. You' may have to water and fertilize these container-type gardens a little more than open-ground grown plants, but it's worth it.
Many communities, from inner-city to much more rural, have insituted Community Gardens in the past few years. The town or sponsoring group usually maintains the site, marks out the individual plots, often has available water, frequently fences against deer and two-legged annoyances and may even offer special children's plots. These rented plots ($10-$30 for the season are common costs depending on size of course) offer you the chance to grow food and flowers, get some sun and exercise, and also enjoy the camraderie and expertise of a wonderful community of like-minded gardeners.
If you have a yard and any room at all, your possibilites expand greatly. Even if the sun and soil are not the best, you can work with what you have. Edible landscaping combines the decorative value of food plants with the anticipated harvest. A parsley, basil, cilantro or other herb plant tucked into a border adds nice greenery and scent plus cuttings for cooking.
We've talked before about ways to plan ahead during the summer for the coming winter, and one of the best is to get to know the farmers and farmers markets in your area. Unbeatable for fresh produce, these sources also offer quantitites of fruits and vegetables for canning or freezing. The idea that we should "eat fresh, eat local" is a good idea on many levels.
If you're already planning a garden this summer, great, and I hope you will consider planting extra to share with needy neighbors. Plant-a-Row, a grassroots anti-hunger program, is active in many towns across the country, and is very worthwhile. For more information check out www.gardenwriters.org/Par/
We've had warm weather this week, the asparagus tips have poked through in our garden, the garlic is thriving, the sage and oregano fragrant, and so much is started in the greenhouse that I can't imagine where I'll possibly have room to plant it. I love this seaon!