Green Thumb Economics: How to Cut Costs By Gardening

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Gardening can be a relaxing hobby for many people. A 2012 Scarborough study found that 49 percent of homeowners in the United States had gardened in the previous twelve months. Of those gardening homeowners, 47 percent had full-time jobs, while 22 percent were retired. Although gardening can be time consuming, many Americans enjoy it. Not only are flowers beautiful, but fruit and vegetable gardens provide healthy produce that growers can enjoy.

Further, gardening even has potential health benefits. It actually burns calories, and of course, gives you a chance to be outside and enjoy fresh air. Gardening can also provide mental health benefits, as many gardeners find that it helps them relieve stress. Lastly, gardening can be a great way to save money if done properly. Growing your own vegetables and fruits can help you spend less at the grocery store, and also enjoy healthy food that has the benefit of allowing you to know exactly how it has been grown.

Gardening can be done almost anywhere; even if you have limited space, you can garden on a deck, in a container, or you can create a large garden if you have a yard that can accommodate it. The seeds or plants themselves are usually very cheap, and all you really need is water and sun. Of course, gardening gets more expensive as you make more advanced decisions (such as what you build to hold the garden), but there are also affordable ways to help your garden.

Some vegetables are particularly cheap to grow. Tomatoes are affordable and easy to grow, as are zucchini and yellow squash. Lettuce, peppers, and cucumbers are also a good choice. These plants are relatively cheap to purchase in seed or plant form, and can provide a delicious alternative to spending a lot of money at the grocery store.

Fruit trees can be another great way to save money by gardening, but of course they are harder to grow than some vegetables because you have to have the write space and climate. If you can’t grow fruit trees, you can at least plant berry bushes. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can all be very expensive to buy at the store, particularly if you enjoy eating organic food, so growing your own can be a great way to cut costs. Most bushes don’t require sprays, and they also can start bearing fruit the year after they are planted. They also require very little space, and if you plant several different kinds, you can have berries for a longer amount of time.

In addition to picking fruits and vegetables that are easy to grow, you can also save money by carefully choosing the location of your garden. Different plants require different amounts of sunlight, and knowing what your plants need will help you have an abundance of food to eat, and will minimize waste. According to Organics By Gosh, composting can also help you save money on your water bill, trash bill, and lawn maintenance.

Planting your own herbs will also save you money, as fresh herbs can be very expensive at the store. Some of the easiest herbs to grow include rosemary, thyme, and oregano. Other herbs that will save you money include parsley, basil, and mint, all of which are used in many different salads and recipes. Growing your own herbs will allow you to spice up your tomato sauce, make your own pesto, and improve the taste of any salad or meat dish.

How much money you save by gardening will depend on how much and what type of produce you grow, as well as what average prices you pay for food at the farmer’s market or the grocery store. If you are paying a premium for organic food, you might benefit even more from gardening. In addition to the financial savings that gardening can produce, it also can reduce stress and help you participate in a healthy hobby. You also might find that your health improves overall because you eat more fruits and vegetables when they are in your own yard; you can also freeze some fruits and vegetables to use during the off-season.

If you don’t have the time to manage a big garden, or you just don’t have a green thumb, you can still plant a few different berry bushes, or make a small raised bed with your favorite vegetable. You won’t save as much as you might if you gardened regularly, but you will get to indulge in fresh, tasty food, and you will never have to worry about how it was grown because you will be the one doing the work.

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