I teach a nutrition course at our local community college and one of my job perks is that I get to take classes for free. I have learned a lot over the past year with the free courses I’ve taken- CPR & First Aid, SEO basics, Google Analytics 101, basic electricity, plumbing, and the most recent class I’ve taken: Intro to Homesteading. This class in particular got me fired up to practice a new habit that’s great for both my health and wealth: Gardening!
Start Gardening to Save Money
Gardening can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start.
- What should I grow?
- What do I need?
- How much of a time commitment will gardening be? I live in an apartment – can I grow food with just a patio?
- My apartment doesn’t even have a patio – how am I supposed to grow anything at all?
There were a handful of people in the homesteading class that shared how they were intimidated to start a garden but were amazed at the yield produced just from winging it their first try. Others shared that their yield from a simple garden has brought down bill 10-30% in the first year. Spring has just arrived and it’s not too late to try out gardening this year. If you decide to take the plunge and want to start gardening to save money, here are 3 solid tips that will help you get the ball rolling.
1. Use a free app: Sprout It
If you want to start gardening to save money, ‘Sprout It’ is a free app that will tell you exactly what you need, and it provides options you can choose from that will work best for your housing situation and gardening experience. Not very experienced? The app will show you what plants are the easiest to start with and even explains how to use starter plants instead of working from square one with seeds. It syncs with your local weather and provides notifications based on your growing season: when to plant your seeds or starter plants, when to water them, when to harvest, etc. Here’s a really cool feature: it even knows not to notify you to water your plants on days it rains! How much easier can they make it for you?
What dishes do you love to make? Take note of the ingredients in them and add those plants to your Sprout It app. We love the flavor pesto brings to dishes but I don’t like store-bought pesto since it’s often made with cheap, processed oils. Therefore I make a big batch of homemade pesto and freeze it. Pesto and any other sauce you like to make freezes well in ice cube trays and then you can store your single-serving portions in a ziplock bag. Growing your own basil can be a good starter plant and you won’t have to spend $3 for a small container of basil leaves at the store. Other starter plants can be things you add to salads like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. You can start gardening to save money, and also to improve your health! After all, it’s probably more likely that you’ll eat your own vegetables than if you bought them from the store.
3. Start small
You don’t have to start with an 20’x20′ plot with 10 different vegetables and you don’t need to spend a lot of money or even buy new materials to set up your garden. If you haven’t seen them before, Google ‘pallet gardening’ or ‘gutter gardening’! These are great options if you’re starting a small garden or don’t have a lot of space to grow. If you choose a pallet, make sure the wood isn’t treated or painted. Think of gardening as an investment; you can start with 1 or 2 plants and when you get confident with those you can add another few the following year and continue to build on your garden. Soon enough you’ll be canning and freezing produce, your grocery trips will be few, and your monthly grocery bill will shrink. Don’t forget that you can also go in on a meat share with a friend!
Between Sprout It and You Tube as phenomenal resources, there’s little excuse to NOT start gardening to save money this year. This new hobby (you can start small and let it grow into a hobby) can have a great effect on your health and your wealth. Why not give it a try?
Did you start gardening to save money? What produce did you start with? If you don’t garden (yet), what’s keeping you from starting?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.