Fresh & Fit Friday: Gardening 101

Why Garden?

1. It has the potential to SAVE YOU MONEY. “Gardening can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be,” said Jonathan from the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension. With gardening, costs can vary, all depending on how much you are willing to put into the garden. There is the potential to save a lot of money, especially if you are a big vegetable buyer.

2. Gardening can also be a great outdoor hobby. It is also a good way to get exercise and sunlight!

3. It is a reminder of where our food comes from and how we are connected to our food source. Instead of buying from large supermarkets, support local sustainability! 

However, you can also find yourself dishing out a lot of cash to maintain a garden. It takes patience and commitment. You may lose a crop one year, and have to start over. But the key is to set yourself up for success, especially when you are just starting out! 

Understanding the basics of gardening, before starting, is essential. 

First, have realistic expectations. Know that a big garden is a big commitment. The soil needs to be tilled, rocks need to be picked, and rows need to be made. Once the seeds are planted, they need regular care. They must be watered and weeds must be picked from the garden. Starting small will more likely lead to success, and will keep you motivated to continue! Honestly, that is not what I did, at all. With our garden, we dove right in over our heads, and luckily, our garden has been successful, so far.

Starting out, pick a plant that you really love! You will be encouraged to take care of it, and determined to make it grow! In our garden, we chose string beans, peas, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, lettuce, and peppers! Yum! 

Next, think about location. If you live in apartment, evaluate how much space you have to work with. Even in an apartment, you can still manage to grow a garden, just plot it out beforehand. Most plants require about 6 - 8 hours of sunlight each day, so consider this when picking your spot. Keep in mind that fruit-producing plants need more energy, so they require more sunlight. Leafy greens will do fine with less sunlight, like chard or lettuce.

Don't get discouraged! Plan out your garden ahead of time. Know exactly what and how much, you will need.

Realize the necessary time commitment, and whether you can stick to it!

How to Save Money While Gardening

  • You can find seedlings for free or nearly free on craigslist, at church or plant sales, from fellow gardeners, neighbors, parents, or at the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension.
  • Look for gardening tools at yard sales. However, if you want to buy new gardening tools, invest in more expensive ones because they will last longer and you will save money in the long run if you plan to continue gardening! 
  • Always clean your gardening tools after each use. Wipe off the dirt with linseed oil. This prevents the transmission of disease and keeps the tools in better condition so they last longer!
  • Reuse items around your house before buying!
  • If you start your seeds inside, you can use an empty egg carton as a seed tray, and transplant them into larger homemade pots made of newspaper. When planting into the ground, the newspaper can be planted along with your plant, which makes it very easy! 

Happy Fresh & Fit Friday!