Wednesday, March 2

Make the most of your garden space.

  For many people nowadays, the needs of the family are paramount when deciding to finally pull out that spade and fork to start a garden. Many people grow a garden for the simple pleasure of homegrown taste and control of the ingredients of the soil in which their veggies are grown. When considering what to plant in your garden is a way to have both control and provide your family with less expensive nutrients you would buy at the grocers.

Step one: Take a trip to the store and price the produce where you spend the most money. Does your family prefer greens to potatoes? Tomatoes to lettuce? Or herbs that diminish your food allotment/budget with tiny bottles of aged flavorless herbs. The main question is, "Where is my food money going?" The second all important question is, "Can I grow food that will replace the food I buy so that I have money left to buy the items that I can't grow?" This is one way to offset the grocery bills throughout the year when prices get out of control and food is at a premium.  This will become ever  more important as the increase of living contiues to climb.

Step two: Within the limits of what my family eats and uses, what costs the most to buy per square foot of gardening space. Cilantro tops the list.  If you are an avid cilantro user in cooking, then cilantro is one herb you could grow, freeze or can and save money to use on other things in the long run. If salsa is your thing, then cilantro and tomatoes are a sure bet to save you money. If you like fresh greens, zucchini or peppers, then grow those in abundance and freeze as much as possible for winter use when the food costs rise.

Step 3:  Decide your available gardening space. What is your space and how much space does each plant require for optimum growing space?  This is when knowing what vegetables you need is the most important.  For example, growing cabbage is not a good use  of your garden space if you can find it at the end of summer for a dollar per head at your local grocer. Cabbage takes up 2-3 square feet when it reaches maturity and most cabbages require a full summer to grow to full size. (there are some exceptions) Even if your cabbage does not take the full summer to grow, after harvesting the cabbage, finding something to fill that space and will grow quickly enough before winter sets in, will be difficult unless you are interested in fava beans which require cool temperatures.

Step 4: "What can I grow that can replace some of the snacks or foods we use regularly?"  This is where family cooperation is a must.  If you are non-vegetarian, it will be hard to get your family to eat vegetairan burgers...however there is a simple trick to this.  Take one pound of hamburger, add two cans of processed mushed black beans and follow the recipe for vegetarian burgers.  Make patties and freeze.  Broil to perfection: serve with mayple syrups, sauces, rice, pasta or buns.  With beans included you cut the cost of hamburger by two thirds and can make enough burgers for 4 meals for 4 people.  You CAN grow your own beans to offset the cost of meat in a variety of ways.  Black beans go with hamburger.  White beans go with chicken or turkey.  Pink or red beans to make chili or add a bit of beef for chili con carne. White beans can also be made into an alfredo sauce by adding the watered down mushed white beans to one jar of alfredo.  You can eliminate meat with this meal and have enough to serve 6-10 people with one jar of alfredo sauce and the protein comes from the beans. Add torice and you have a complete protein. Add 2 cups greens grown from the garden and frozen ahead of winter and you have a complete meal. Hint: by adding 2 cups of greens to this meals you can reduce the serrving size of alfredo and rice to half and extend the number of servings to 12-20 people or servings.  This enables you to make one meals for 6 people and freeze the rest for another meal in the future.

Step 5: Recognize that with the system above you have cut your grocery bill in half by making two meals for 6 people with only two store bought items: alfredo sauce and rice.  One small bag of brown rice is 1.79 and the alfredo sauce is 4.00 at the most.  So for less than six dollars, you have created two meals for a family of six by using produce you have grown in your garden.(beans and greens)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.