It is gardening time for many of us. There are so many things you can grow and so many ways to grow them.
I hear people everyday say "I don't have a yard" so they can't grow anything. Sure you can. You may not be growing a ton of food, but any that you grow is a blessing to your budget and your health!
If you positively think you can't grow something - think about roadside farm stands, farm markets, and family and friends. There are always options to getting fresh produce and preserving it in some way for later.
You can freeze, or can, or dehydrate.
Tomato - so many things you can do with them besides a BLT!!!!! Pasta sauce, pizza, sauce, salsa, Rotel mix, plain old canned tomatoes and juice.
Cucumbers - can be eaten fresh, made into relish and pickles. Easy to do. Pickles can be fermented and refrigerated - don't even need a canning pot.
Salad Fixings - lettuce, radish, carrots, etc. Easy to grow and take up little space. These can be grown in planters on patios easily.
Beans - need a little more space - but with good weather, they produce well
Peppers - there are so many kinds from sweet to super hot. I used to have no luck with peppers, but the past few years they have really thrived for us. I freeze them and use them in relish, and of course fresh.
Squash - there are many types of this as well. Spaghetti, Acorn, Hubbard, zucchini, crookneck, butternut, etc. I have found that summer squash like zucchini and crookneck take up the least amount of room and they can all be grown in pots.
There are many different veggies that can add excitement to your table. You can grow potatoes, okra, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatillos, pumpkins, watermelons, just all sorts of things. IF you grow and like okra - let me know. I have a canning method that cans with NO slime!!!!! (I'll post at a later date)
Farm markets and farm/roadside stands can be great resources for fresh goodies. In many of our older neighborhoods (with large yards) people have self serve stands set up with an honor system of payment. A box is screwed down and locked - and you leave appropriate amount in slot for what you are purchasing. I love this, and have purchased many times.
Friends and family may have gardens that you can barter to get goods from.
Farmer markets are a little more expensive - but they have great choices. REMEMBER they have done all the work for you - so you are paying for that.
Gleaning is another method of getting produce. You can often find abandoned orchards, wild patches of berries, mushrooms, nuts, etc. - if you just take time to get out and about. Many farmers will allow gleaning of their fields at the end of harvest time. The produce may not be perfect, but it is still good!
Some areas have community gardens - which is a wonderful thing!
REGROW food. The bottom ends of celery and bunch lettuces can be regrown. Many people only use the green part of green onions and regrow the from the white part. (We eat the whole thing at our house!). Many older sprouted potatoes can be grown into future food (best if organic).
You can buy from the grocery as well and prepare for the winter as well. Look for markdowns and super sales.
Orchards and places like Fresh Thyme often offer great prices as well. Look at ethnic stores - you can often find a variety of fresh veggies and fruit there.
You can have an actual garden plot, you can grow in pots and planters, you can also grow many items like peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, etc. in amongst your flower beds. Veggie plants are pretty too - so place them throughout the yard. I am a firm believer that lawns are wasted real estate - use them to grow food if you can. (Yes, I still have some lawn - but I am getting older!!!)
DOES IT SAVE MONEY? In most cases, I would say yes!!!! Growing your own each year, doesn't cost much (once you get started). Now if you purchase items, it may cost a little - BUT you will know exactly what is your food when you put it back for winter. No chemicals or preservatives - JUST REAL FOOD!
Get started this year - prep your pantry (whether freezing, canning or drying) with real food. You will be amazed at how good it tastes and how much it helps out the winter budget.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS about canning, freezing or dehydrating - ASK! Hopefully we can all aid each other in getting as much knowledge as possible. Give your questions, and I will be glad to do a post about it!
HAPPY GARDENING AND PREPPING!