One of the most self-sufficient steps a pepper can make, is to start your own garden and relearn the life saving skill that at one time all Americans knew; how to grow their own food. But have you ever wondered if you are really saving any money working away the summer hours in your garden? I even hear preppers claim that they won’t really save any money. As a society, we have become so good at avoiding what seems like ‘work’ we can reason our way out of almost anything, can’t we? So let’s address some of these issues.
At face value, the National Gardening Association (NGA) estimates that the average garden plot of 600 square feet produces an average of $600 worth of produce. But some people would think that’s a fairly conservative figure especially if you take the value of ‘organic’ local produce into account. That figure may be closer to $2000 per 600 feet. Now if one uses those numbers; a single acre could theoretically produce nearly $50,000 worth of organic veggies, fruits, and nuts per season. How is that figure for you naysayers?! Now that figure isn’t based on 600 square feet producing a couple of tomatoes plants, and some squash you’ll snack on only during the summer, it’s based on that 600 square feet producing absolutely as much as possible and you preserving what it produces for the winter. Keep in mind that when food prices go up, so does the value of a home garden.
“Water and irrigation are going to cost money.”
Making use of rain catches, and/or a drip system you can significantly reduce your cost to water the garden. The rain gutters on your home can be run into rain barrels, when the spring rains slow you can then use that water to supplement what you are already using for your garden.
“Good seeds every year are expensive.”
Invest in heirloom seeds; learn the skill of saving seeds and you will have a renewable garden every year where you do not have to purchase new needs except for specialty items. Hybrid seeds are what is most commonly sold in most stores unless they are marked as otherwise, hybrid seed are not genetically modified seeds, but they are seeds that resulted from crossing to different inbred parent plants. So the resulting offspring may or may not reproduce. Therefore seeds may not grow and if they do, the resulting plants may not be as bountiful as the original parent plants. So while there is no real harm in growing hybrid seeds, you can save heirloom seeds for a dependable harvest year after year without having to buy more seeds.
“Fertilizer and pesticides cost money too.”
By going organic you not only avoid chemicals that could be harmful to you and your pets in the long run, but you also lower your costs. Compost – the ‘gardeners gold’ can be made by you for nothing but a little time. A quick search over at the APN forum will provide you with all the information you need to have your own bountiful organic garden. It may take a few years to get your soil in line but once that is done you will reaping the rewards of a little hard work.
“My time is worth money as well.”
Think of your garden as an investment on the above garden value. Nothing is free. Rather than spending your time inside on the computer, you could be outside enjoying the weather and getting a little exercise. Instead of running children around to activities that they don’t enjoy as much as they enjoy spending time with you , spend the time outdoors in the garden with them teaching them how care for plants, veggies and ultimately themselves. I don’t think you can put a dollar sign on an entire family learning a survival skill and spending time together. To me, that, is money well spent.
“Then I will have to spend money on all the stuff I need to preserve the food.”
You can find most of the equipment you need to freeze, dry, and can your own food at fairly affordable prices in thrift stores, on Craig’s List, and at yard sales. Most of this equipment is reusable; there is no reason to buy new if you don’t have to. Again, this will be an investment, every year you grow a garden and put away that food that equipment will pay for itself, and will equate to less food you have buy.
When its all said and done, growing a garden and storing the food you produce is one of the best things you can do to bring your monthly food bill down, and to protect yourself from possible future food shortages. Don’t just store food away for emergencies, use it everyday. In the winter eat your home canned veggies instead of buying them at the store. Some experts say that the average gardener can cut their monthly grocery bill by more than half by making wise use of their garden produce.
During World War II, it’s estimated that over 20 million Americans planted Victory Gardens due to a massive effort to take the pressure off the food industry so they could produce cheaper food for military personnel overseas. Victory Gardens provided about almost as much vegetables produced during that time as the food industry during normal production. Gardeners who didn’t have room for their own garden made use of vacant lots, building rooftops, balconies and public spaces. Today, gardeners are starting to do the same again discouraged by skyrocketing food prices, tasteless pesticide laden food, and genetic modification.
Learning how to garden is easy once you make the decision to do it. Contact your local extension office and garden clubs for classes and free information on gardening in your area.