Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Groceries too Expensive? Grow your Own.

Glenn ordered a book called Edible Landscaping that proclaimed "Now You Can Have Your Gorgeous Garden and Eat It Too!" Since I am in the process of growing tomatoes again in my Earthbox, I thought it couldn't hurt to see what else I might be able to grow in the yard that might be edible. The book shows a number of fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be mixed into your landscaping that provide not only pleasing aesthetics but function as they can be used for food. Given the price of groceries lately, this is a real plus.

The book shows you how to design with herbs, vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts. One section (page 142) even shows what foods are best for every zone. "Consider your climate before you choose your fruits, berries and nuts." Favorites according to some experts (consulted by the author Rosalind Creasy) included Alpine strawberries, Blueberries, and Chestnuts in the North and Midwest and Asian persimmons, Avocados, Figs and Citrus in the south. For the West, she mentions the site of Dave Wilson who runs a nursery.

Overall, Edible Landscaping is a great book with huge, pretty illustrations and details about how to grow your own edible garden.

If you are growing your own food, what do you find grows best in your area?

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13 Comments:

Blogger Ern said...

Inspired by you and Glenn, I'm growing Roma tomatoes in my Earthbox. My bicycle rides through south central Iowa make me believe that corn and soybeans grow really well here. Really, really, well.

2:01 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger DADvocate said...

I'm growing tomatoes. I hoped to sell some of them, but the weather doesn't seem to be cooperating.

Corn and soybeans are the major farm crops around here, but most of you typical vegetables and grains grow well here (Ohio River valley east of Cincinnati).

2:45 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger ZorroPrimo said...

Store-bought tomatoes taste like Styrofoam. I have relatives who maintain their own harvest of seeds, and haven't used a store-bought seed to plant their toms. Supernaturally delicious!

2:51 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger ck said...

The only foodstuff more expensive than homegrown vegies is hunting for meat.

5:19 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

In 2009 I found a tomato plant growing in a crack in my concrete back yard. It grew up between 2 abandoned bicycles, it yielded several pounds of tomatoes. Total cost: $0.

In 2011, this year, one of my friends decided I needed another tomato plant. I didn't have a place to put it but my neighbor had an empty container by his front door so I planted it there. I watered it every day. One day the container and tomato plant wasn't there. I put out an APB but nobody had seen my tomato plant. So I went on a search mission. I did find the plant still in its container in a yard up the street. It took me 2.5 minutes to locate the stolen tomato plant.

I took the plant home this time placing it safely in my backyard. I returned to the offending home and talked to several people that I knew on that block and found that my tomato plant had been thieved by the local crack dealer.

I returned home and called the police and filed a police report. The nice police ladies who came to my home mentioned that they were already well-informed about the tomato thieves/crack-dealers. So they kindly offered to knock on the thieves door with their night sticks and have a discussion about their tomato thievery so off they went to perform their mission. I got a mental picture of those poor crack dealers flushing their product down the toilet as 2 tall black police women in uniform banged loudly on their door.

Ha ha. Fun with tomatoes.

5:38 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger Ern said...

As Guy Clark has written, "There's only two things that money can't buy. That's true love and home-grown tomatoes."

5:44 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger Doom said...

@ck,

"The only foodstuff more expensive than homegrown vegies is hunting for meat."

Add in that it is nowhere as easy or sure as it sounds. I did get some tomatoes last year, I think... seven or eight? But nothing else. It is a lot more work and a lot less sure then they make it sound. I hope to get more into it, and go heirloom for seed, but... It isn't that easy and not cheap, up front anyway, as you noted. What is deer now, $30 a pound (before dressing, boning)? :p Your first year of tomatoes must be close to that too.

11:36 PM, August 17, 2011  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Growing your on vegs is a good thing. Makes people understand how much work is involved with putting that pasta on the table (wheat being exponentially harder than tomatoes to do on your own).

But, unless you want to create and tend a garden of two or three acres full-time, you're not going to be feeding you and yours.

10:41 AM, August 18, 2011  
Blogger Jason said...

I successfully grew cherry tomatoes last year. This year though, well, I live in Texas. Store-bought is cheaper than the water bill necessary to keep my garden alive.

4:24 PM, August 18, 2011  
Blogger Firehand said...

Here in OK, with good soil, you can grow damn near anything. IF the weather gives some cooperation. This year it's been bleepin' hot & dry, and everything but my tomatoes & peppers died; and they're not producing. I'm hoping to get some later in the year.

Other years, I've wound up with so much I was giving it away.

9:08 PM, August 18, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

Oligonicella, being woefully ignorant of just how much land one would need to grow fruits and vegetables on to sustain "X" amount of family members, I have wondered what it would take. And if grown organically, the amount of acreage necessary as opposed to utilizing commercial fertilizers. A family of 5 would need a living room full of chest freezers and / or a pantry the size of a master bedroom. And, of course, the time. Natural disasters have proven (to me, anyway) modern man can't do it.

6:12 AM, August 20, 2011  
Blogger Keith said...

You can't expect grow a great garden (as with most things) without some knowledge and experience. When I started out I had plenty of failures but I have learned a lot over the years and have had a great deal of success over the past three decades. Here's a few thoughts off the top of my head. I've probably forgotten something important.YMMV.

1) You need knowledge and experience if you want to grow more than a few tomatoes consistently. There are many, many books out there and many experienced gardeners. Put that together with trial and error and you will go far.
2) Don't try to grow everything you eat. Focus on the stuff that is expensive or difficult to find and not too difficult to grow yourself. For example, I produce several hundred dollars of raspberries every year from plants purchased years ago for $30. Additionally, I find strawberries, blueberries, herbs, salad greens, peppers, tomatoes, flowers, beans, beets, spinach, chinese cabbage, bok choy, and several other things to be very space-efficient and cost-effective. It is also fresher and tastier than store bought.
3) With the right priorities you do not need very much land at all. Using little land means little expense for water, fertilizer, etc. I produce a lot of food using about 300 square feet at very low cost.
4) There is generally no need for chemical when gardening a small area if you know what you are doing. I have not used any chemical pesticide, herbicide, or fertilizer for at least 25 years. Composted leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc provide much of my 'fertilizer'. Besides that I spend about $50 per year for organic fertilizer and other supplies. While I do buy seed ($50per year), I also save some types that are easy to save. Cilantro, beans, tomatoes for example. As well, most purchased seed is viable for 2 to 10 years if kept cool and dry, so I usually get cheaper larger packages.
5) Start out small. Build up as you gain experience. If you go all out to soon you will probably get discouraged.

Keith

12:53 PM, August 20, 2011  
Blogger TMink said...

ck, my fishing license costs $21, the crickets cost $3, I paid for my fishing pole and supplies long ago. So I have a once a year cost of $21 and $3 a trip each time I fish. That means if I feed the family fish 4 times a year I end up paying about $10 a meal for a family of 6. That is really OK. I am sure you can hunt on the cheap as well, my cousin shoots two deer a year on his property with guns he has had forever, so his cost is very low as well.

There is a big difference between table and trophy hunters I guess.

Trey

10:26 AM, August 22, 2011  

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