Posted by: ceara08 | March 20, 2009

$25 garden challenge

Great idea from the

Compost Confidential blog

A $25 garden to feed a family all summer with fresh produce.

This is entirely do-able, even for a family that has never gardened before. I recommend leafy greens, beans, peas, carrots, and tomatoes for the beginning gardener. Those are very easy crops, even for children. Kids just love planting stuff.

What to do about compost? Well, not everyone rakes leaves in the fall. Some wait until Spring. *raises hand* Well actually I don’t do much raking at all because we’re lucky that the wind blows in such a way as to take all the fallen leaves and blow them into neighbor’s lawns, which they then rake or hire someone else to rake and it all ends up on our property anyway in bags! (They are too lazy to take the bags to the curb, so I give permission for them to dump all leaves on our property. haha)

Cheap places to get seeds are from other gardeners (often can get these seeds for free!), yard/garage sales, community trades (Seedy Saturdays and Seedy Sundays in Canada), and even the local bargain dollar store. In our local dollar store, you can get three packs of seeds for $1. Can’t beat that! You might say, oh those seeds are no good. On the contrary! We’ve purchased seeds from there many times and always had good luck.

So let’s assume that a family buys all their seeds. If they choose the easy crops I listed above, the total cost would be approximately $10 at $2 per pack of seeds on average. Some are more costly, such as heirlooms or “organic” labeled seeds. Stick with open pollinated or heirloom seeds. Future seeds will come true to type, unlike the F1 and F2 hybrids, which can revert to an older plant parent’s qualities. To truly save money from gardening, you need to be able to collect your own seeds and grow them again next year. Use extra seeds to trade on websites like Garden Web.

Now, growing containers for starting seeds. Hit up that dollar store! Save up toilet paper and paper towel cardboard tubes and put into plastic containers. Recycle newspaper and make newspaper pots. Again, put into plastic containers to keep water from spilling everywhere, which can ruin wood furniture finish. (I know from experience! *blush*)

If you don’t want to buy plastic containers, then recycle! You can use large food cans, plastic boxes from store bought mushrooms and leafy greens. I have a killer large clear plastic tub from the grocery store that held organic baby spinach leaves that was on sale last week. That container can be planted in directly, or turned over where the lid is on the bottom to hold pots and the top can be a mini greenhouse.

Build your compost pile container out of old wood pallets. Many free directions online on how to build it.

Buy a good quality seeding mix to start off your veggies indoors or under lights. Here in Canada, we get Pro Mix brand, which costs about $6 and is enough to fill about half our seed trays.

Get your gardening tools at garage/yard sales instead of buying new. Sometimes you can find antique tools that are in much better shape than the stuff you can buy cheap imported. Tools were made much better in the Victorian era. Stuff had to last back then and they didn’t accept a lower quality.

Regarding the rest, well you need plenty of energy, gardening clothes to protect your skin from bug bites and the sun, and patience. Your greatest expense will come from purchased compost and seeds. After that, you can use plant material from the many plants you grow and fallen leaves to make your own free compost. Then harvest seeds to use next year.

You can do it!! Let’s see some new gardens spring up in 2009!

If you feel you can’t do it, or need inspiration, watch what they did in Cuba, which is nothing less than amazing.

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