Numbers, numbers, numbers. Numbers are awesome, especially in the garden. I’m telling you the numbers game + a garden just makes sense.
We have planted 3 peach trees (bare root at under $25 a pop), 15 asparagus crowns ($20), 8 purple raspberry canes ($40…I went a little nuts ordering these beauties but they are worth every penny), 8 thorn-less blackberries (transplanted for free from my dad) and have $100 in wood for raised beds, posts to support the berries and a little wire to keep the berries where they should be. I’ll overestimate and go out on a limb that we spent $300 to get our garden running.
Talk about an excellent investment. This is year 5 of our garden and we are way ahead of the moola game. I froze enough produce for our smoothies all year long during the summer of 2014 - produce I grew or scavenged from other places and saved us over $1600. I’ve never kept track of the numbers before now. People, that is seriously awesome and seriously do-able for you. I buy a few things to add to the smoothies for a little variety but 95% of it comes from the garden.
$1600? Yep. I froze over 100 one gallon bags filled with produce out of my garden. Organic, home grown love just waiting to be pulled out of the chest freezer to be used in our nightly smoothies. This post is all about the numbers and why it makes sense to dig in, plant some goodness and reap the benefits.
Do NOT let lack of experience or exposure to gardening hold you back!
Perhaps this little nugget may help inspire you to start a little something in your space. My 3 kiddos have been selling produce for about 8 years. They began pulling a Radio Flyer wagon filled with extra produce door to door to our kind neighbors. My oldest even made a catalog (she was only 5...once I figure out how to upload that gem you will fall in love!) The door to door wagon approach has evolved into their own produce "co-op" where they sell weekly boxes of seasonal produce to 10 customers all summer and into the fall. Last year, the kiddos socked away over $1200 from produce gleaned from the excess in my garden and my dad’s garden. It gets better. They have to put the money in the bank and save it for college.
$1600 + $1200 = $2800….but don’t forget the value of the produce we eat almost every day spring, summer and fall. Asparagus 2-3 times a week for 8 weeks. Zucchini, tomatoes, crook neck, bowls of berries swimming in half and half and a tiny bit of sugar, peas, green beans, peanuts (I live in Utah, it’s super cool that I grow peanuts – just ask the neighbor kids when it’s time to harvest them how cool it is!), peppers, tomatillos, shallots, onions, cucumber, lima beans, loofa (yes you can eat the baby ones or let them grow into useable sponges), soy, rhubarb, etc. I think it would be reasonable to say between my garden, my dad’s and stuff I scavenge from other people we are sitting at about >$3000 in savings/money making a year!
The most exciting part about these numbers is that no matter what your garden size it’s possible for you to save money and even make money. You don’t need and acre parcel, your own dairy cow for fertilizer or thumbs that are super green to benefit from having a garden.
If I don’t garden how can I make this work?
- Be bold – start a garden. Containers on a patio. Raised beds to keep your commitment contained. You can even call your city offices, see if they have space set aside for community gardens, get on the list and give it a go!
- Use your neighbors space that they don't want to maintain any more. I live in an area where some of our neighbors lack the mobility, energy or desire to garden even though they had space set aside in the past. They would love someone to maintain that space and would get a kick out of watching it grow. Offer to tend the space for them and share produce you grow. Win/win for both sides of the fence.
- Use your “ornamental” flower beds to grow produce. Cabbages, carrots, shallots, kale, even a tomato plant. Using whatever space to grow food is what it’s all about!!!! I just planted peppers for salsa and a lemon cucumber in an empty spot in one of my "ornamental" beds.
- Pay attention. Especially in our neck of the woods apricot trees go unpicked ALL the time. Apricots are the best because they basically half themselves, pit removal is a breeze, align easily on the tray, don’t make a drippy juicy mess and are delicious in smoothies and my apricot oatmeal recipe! I froze over 150 pounds of apricots last year. Not a single one was grown on my family’s property. Knock on a door, ask some questions and get FREE PRODUCE!!! For the record, people with plumb trees feel the same way. They almost pay you to take them away in order to save the mess the overripe globs make as they fall from the trees.
Having fresh (or your own frozen) produce at your fingertips makes drinking daily smoothies so much easier! With some effort and planning it can also be way more affordable than you might have previously thought. Thinking Inside the Blender but outside of the box will help your family eat more fruits and vegetables. In my opinion, eating more produce is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your health (aside from not smoking). Let produce be your gateway into a life filled with more energy, less sickness and better health.