works for me wednesday: saving by growing your own food?

by babhoyersh on June 23, 2010

Last year, I tracked the approximate amount of food that I harvested from our vegetable garden, fruit trees, and fruit vines. Then, I figured out the cost per pound based on how much we had spent on gardening supplies for that year. I never did a final calculation, but at this point in time, I would estimate that our final cost was probably under $.50/lb. for the food we grew ourselves.

Mother Earth News had an article in their December2009/January 2010 issue by Rosalind Creasy, author of , discussing this same issue. Her blog has pictures of the 5 x 20 foot bed which is integrated into her backyard quite beautifully.

Rosalind Creasy’s approach is a great way to get started with growing vegetables at home, particularly if one focuses on easy-to-grow greens, peppers, and tomatoes. A single zucchini plant does take up some space, and in return provides a boatload of zucchini, enough to share with neighbors.

Our garden is approximately 15 feet by 90 feet for the main set of beds, plus three smaller beds on the other side of the house. We usually have four beds solely for plum tomato plants which provide enough tomatoes for us to have spaghetti and meatballs once a week, along with other tomato sauce dishes. Three to four times a week, we have mixed veggies as a side; I froze these quart bags last year. A packet of lettuce mix costing about $1.90 provides us with greens during the entire growing season of seven months with extra seed for the following year.

Of course, these savings take time and effort, mostly my time and effort, and some cash. I typically spend an hour each day in the vegetable garden, weeding, pruning, and also picking vegetables. I might spend another hour steaming enough veggies to do five quart bags of mixed veggies. Some of my children are old enough to help with the weeding and food preservation.

There are benefits to home-grown food that aren’t immediate or clearly quantifiable. For instance, unlike a child featured in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, my children know the difference between a potato and a tomato. They know what it’s like to lose a tomato crop to the local deer. They don’t realize that eating our organically-grown vegetables means fewer pesticides in their bodies, and fewer health problems down the line. No fossil fuels are burned to get my vegetables from the garden to the table, just my own body burning calories and staying active for a healthy life.

Growing our own food gives us the opportunity to share our bounty with our neighbors and create community. So many people stop by and ask questions and share their own gardening stories when I’m working in the garden. If I have too much produce to handle any given day, I can always find a neighbor who will gladly take it and go on and on about how fresh the produce is.

Every year, I do debate how much time and effort I am willing to put into the garden, and every year I find myself unwilling to give up the bounty of our garden and the impact it has on our lives, our children’s lives, and our neighbors. I can’t imagine not gardening.

For more Works for Me Wednesday, check out We Are That Family.

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