Imagine finding a way to save money, get some fresh air and eat healthier- all at the same time. The easy way to slash your grocery bill this summer is to grow a kitchen garden. A simple garden, that’s easy to tend to and maintain will supply you with an abundance of healthy vegetables and herbs all summer. Even a small investment of $50 in some basic supplies and seeds can result over $1200 in produce! That’s a huge return- plus you know it will all taste better than anything that’s been shipped to your local grocery store.
There are three basic steps to get started. Plan, Prepare and Plant, it’s that simple.
1) Planning: It can be overwhelming to stand in front of a display of seeds and try to decide what to grab. First start with what you enjoy eating. There’s no sense in growing peppers if you won’t be enjoying them on your salad. You are in charge here and there is no obligation to grow certain things just because you think you should, or your neighbor is growing it. Sit down and really be honest about what you eat and enjoy. Start simple, maybe just go with two types of tomatoes, snap peas and green beans. Don’t go crazy and try to start with a dozen different vegetables, you’ll just get overwhelmed and not tend to the plants, or throw away excess.
2) Prepare: Head out into the yard and see what areas receive the most amount of sun during the day- Vegetable gardens need full sun! Now you’ll need to decide how much space you want to devote to your new garden. If you want to keep it simple, something as small as a 4 x 4 foot space would be enough. You could even get started with pots on a deck- the point it to just get growing! Next you need to dig up the soil and remove any sod (grass) from the area. Digging down about 6 inches to loosen up the dirt will suffice. Remove any roots, rocks and debris you unearth. To make sure you new plants are happy, you should amend the soil with some peat moss and compost. Compost is available for purchase, but starting your own compost pile is easy!
3) Plant: You know what you want to grow and you’ve got your seeds started, or purchased seedlings at your local greenhouse. Following directions for each to ensure proper spacing. Some plants will need some vertical support if they’re vining plants (i.e. green beans). You can string up trellis netting, or build a simple three-leg pyramid out of long branches. And keep up with the watering. Long hot stretches of dry weather will keep you plant too busy growing roots to find water, instead of growing up and producing! Put out some clean buckets and start catching free rainwater.