{August 24, 2016}   Sadity Cents: Grow Your Own

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but money saving plants can.

One of the the things I longed to do in Korea, but didn’t get a chance to do because we lived in an apartment, was start a garden. I enjoy gardening for the sake of gardening, but I also just enjoy cooking with and eating fresh vegetables and herbs. Of course there are healthy benefits to growing your own vegetables, but have you ever thought about the economic benefits?

As many vegetables as my husband and I are eat (which is A Lot) it seemed prudent to grow some on our own. But there are a couple things to consider.

One, many of the garden shops or home improvement stores sell plants at a ridiculously high rate elemenating the potential benefit.

Next, even if you find vegetable plants at a reasonable price the set up can be expensive as well. You see, unfortunately, though we are in a beautiful area prime for gardening, base housing doesn’t allow us to dig anymore and even if we could the rabbits are out in droves. So what’s a girl to do? Start a patio garden of course!

First, I needed supplies. I bought a couple of plastic bins rather than buy garden boxes for $20 (or more) a pop. I suggest going to a thrift store first. The boxes I found are those cheap plastic storage boxes most stores have available near the begin of the school year. These are great for gardening because they are easy to punch drain holes in and the price makes them great to experiment with  and mess up on. I also bought plastic dishpans. You can get these dishpans for about $3 at most stores and for $0.50 at a thrift store. You don’t need these exact bins, but you will want something that you punch holes in or that has small holes for draining.

Next, I needed plants. There are some nurseries in town, but I knew that a large box home improvement store was having a sale. Now timing is everything. Part of the reason they are having a sale is because gardening season is nearly over, so they need to get rid of inventory.

Take time to look through the plants and find ones that are somewhat dry, but whose main stem still has life in them (i.e. still green). I didn’t buy expensive dirt or extra sprays. You really don’t need it. Plants have been growing for centuries without manufactured dirt. At the register, of course, I first asked for a military discount. So there was 10% right there. Then as I chatted with the sales clerk, I pointed out the dead leaves. By the time we were done she’d dicounted some of the aging plants and even gave me a tomato  plant for free. The attendant was throwing out plants that seemed to be dying and said I could take the tomato plant if I thought I could revive it.  I would take a look at some of the dying plants at your local store and see if the store will give them to you. Many appear to be dead but can be revived. Anyways, I bought two large bags of soil, and 8 plants (plus a freebie) for $30. Not a bad deal.

I made sure that the plants I bought were suited for a fall garden. I also bought some herbs which are very easy to keep and last but not least some lavender to defend my garden against bugs and rabbits without pesticides.

To build my garden I prepped my boxes by taking a screw driver to all four corners and hammering a whole in each corner.

Then I filled each with varying levels of rocks. The bins were deeper than I needed so I used the rocks in my garden bed as filler.

This serves two purposes: 1) It keeps me from having to buy unnecessary dirt to fill the bin. 2) The rocks help with drainage so that the plants aren’t sitting in water that will eventually sour and poison the plants. This can happen with potted plants.

Some of the bins I filled with rocks  in a gradient or sloping manner so that the plants would have the appropriate amount of dirt. It also helps with water flow.

The plants I chose are quick sprouting and do no have deep roots. So they don’t need a lot of dirt and they thrive best with soil that drains well.

Then I filled each pot with the appropriate amount of dirt. One pot is for shallow roots, another for deeper roots, and yet another for vine plants.

Here are the plants I bought and the depth of dirt for each bin:

6″ Bin

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Mint

8″ Bin

  • Bell pepper
  • Kale
  • Squash
  • Sage

12″ Bin

  • Tomato
  • Pumpkin

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