Grow Your Own
I have been threatening for several years to plant a garden. We live on a fair amount of acreage and have room for a garden although we also share the land with several deer. My half-hearted attempts at a vegetable garden in the past have always ended in the same pitiful way. I plant the seeds, the seeds grow, sometimes vegetables even grow and then it’s as if a magical dinner bell (that only deer can hear) rings out an announcement that dinner in my garden is served. The next day the garden is bare and I swear to never attempt that silly exercise again. OK, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that all would be well if I only had a fence. Easier said than done, but after 7 years of thinking about it and planning it and pacing it off, early this spring, my husband and I built the fence. (Alright, he built it, I helped). What does this have to do with Great Meals On A Budget, you ask? Ahh, everything.
This spring I planted my vegetable garden. It is now June 1st and we have enjoyed several weeks of the most delicious salads we have ever tasted. Almost every evening, I walk down to the garden with my empty salad bowl and browse the garden, pinching a little of this and a little of that; several types of lettuce, arugula, spinach, Italian parsley, a few chives make for a very tasty salad. All this for the cost of seeds and some good old fashioned elbow grease. As we move into summer, I will have a wealth of healthy, organic, gluten-free food to enjoy with my family and our friends. Besides the greens, our garden includes, potatoes, garlic, bell peppers, beets, basil, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, snow peas, snap peas, tomatoes, Swiss chard, scallions, onions, broccoli, zucchini, crook neck squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, mini-watermelon and strawberries. I know that not everyone has room for a garden, but the new idea about gardens is minimum space and maximum yield. I have planted my garden in raised beds. Raised beds can be successful in very small spaces and produce a great yield. If you live in an apartment, there are community gardens in many towns where a plot of land is donated for individuals to sow and tend. The person plants, takes care of and then harvests their portion of the garden.
The biggest deterrent for getting started, besides the deer, was the time commitment. I did not want to become a slave to a garden or fail at weeding and have to look at an overgrown monstrosity. The raised beds and size of the beds (four feet wide) fixed this problem. Our entire garden can be weeded in under an hour a week.
I plan to try to estimate the $ we will save throughout the year with the garden. The main reason we built the fence and planted the garden was to off-set our food budget, as we, like everyone else are trying to cut costs and reduce spending. I’m pretty sure we will accomplish that goal with a huge upshot, we’ll be able to enjoy the tastiest produce, all in season and we’ll have done it ourselves.
Oh yes, one more upshot, no magical dinner bell this year!
- Chef Yvonne