March is National Nutrition Month, which means it’s a perfect time to talk about saving money on healthy eating. One way to do that is by planting your own garden. The National Gardening Association says gardeners who grow their own vegetables can save hundreds on their annual food costs. Plus, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of growing, harvesting and preparing your own healthy produce. Check out these ways to save on spring gardening:
Do Your Research
Before you start digging holes and germinating seeds, spend some time researching what the soil is like in your area and how to properly get it ready for planting, which plants grow the best, and when and how to care for those plants as they grow. You’ll have a much easier, more productive, less costly gardening experience if you work with Mother Nature and choose your crops wisely.
Stake Your Claim
No backyard? No problem. You don’t need a big open space to plant a garden. Many gardeners cultivate their crops in containers with great results. Vertical container gardens using a blank wall have become really popular. You can also look into whether there are any community gardens in your area and see if they have any openings. If you’re excited about the idea of gardening but want to start super-small, plant an indoor, countertop herb garden.
Buy Used Equipment
If you’re new to gardening, you don’t need to spend a lot to get the supplies you need. Check Craigslist, eBay and even Freecycle to find cheap (or free!) gardening tools and equipment. eBay is also a great place to buy inexpensive seeds.
Plan for Excess
You never know when you might get lucky and have a bumper crop. Have a plan in place for what to do with all those extra strawberries or tomatoes (or whatever you’re lucky enough to have too much of). That could mean preserving and canning, sharing with friends and family, or donating to a local food bank. The most important thing is not to let the abundance go to waste.
Consider Secondary Savings
In addition to the obvious savings on your food bill, maintaining a garden can help you save in other ways, too. You’ll be making fewer trips to the grocery store, which means using less gas, not to mention avoiding the temptation of unplanned impulse purchases. Working in the garden can also serve as a stress-relieving workout, which means you can forgo a pricey membership at a gym or yoga studio.