One way to save an enormous amount of money, engage in soul-enriching work that truly is fun and refreshing, and boost your health (both by being active and eating well) is to grow food in a home garden — which takes less space than you might think. Here’s one perfect example. Long-time gardener and author Rosalind Creasy took a 5-by-20-foot section of garden bed by her tiny lawn to see how much she could grow in just that 100 square feet. The results are astounding.
She planted two tomato plants (‘Better Boy’ and ‘Early Girl’), four bell pepper varieties, four zucchini plants, four basils (expensive in stores but essential in the kitchen), and 18 lettuces (six ‘Crisp Mint’ romaine, six ‘Winter Density’ romaine and six ‘Sylvestra’ butterheads).
Cathy Wilkinson Barash, who worked on the project with Creasy, created spreadsheets for each type of plant, and the two gardeners kept meticulous records each time they harvested. They recorded every amount — both in pounds and ounces, as well as number of fruits (for each cultivar of tomato, zucchini and pepper) or handfuls (for lettuces and basil).
To determine what the harvest would cost in the market, Creasy began checking out equivalent organic produce prices in midsummer. On a single day in late August, she harvested 49 tomatoes, nine peppers, 15 zucchinis of many sizes, and three handfuls of basil — which would have totaled $136 at her market that day.
The total value of the summer trial garden harvest was $746.52. In order to get a fair picture, she subtracted the cost of seeds, plants and compost, which added up to $63.09. That left $683.43 in savings on fresh vegetables. Of course, prices vary throughout the season and throughout the country. Creasy lives in northern California, and for comparison, Barash, who lives in Iowa, checked out her prices and figured the same amount of organic produce in her area would be worth $975.18!
For the complete story of Creasy and Barash’s amazing summer gardening experience, read $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet.
For tips on saving money as you garden, check out Gardening on a Budget: Seven Tips for Success.
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