First, let’s dispell the myth that you need a huge yard to have a garden. All you really need is access to the sun to create a garden. A garden could be a few planters by your window, pots on a deck, or just a small plot of land around your house. And if you don’t have access to any of these, there are thousands of community gardens around the country. Many are free and sponsored by schools or churches.
The second way to make use of a garden is to plant mainly things that you would buy anyway. For us, tomatoes are the single biggest money saver. They also yield lots of fruits and take up very little space. Other things like zucchini take up a lot of space and it’s often hard to make use of that much of any single vegetable.
As the Transform Your Money blog points out:
Growing plants can be an excellent, frugal way to go green. There are two ways it can save you money:
First, you can grow your own food. Seeds are cheap, perhaps $2 per packet. The savings are even greater if you save seeds for next year.
Second, you can landscape your yard for free — or nearly free. Use cuttings from your neighbors’ yards, with their permission.
Both ways take effort and patience, but the savings are worth it. Plus, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your plants are contributing to the well-being of the environment….
As this article points out, going green is another great reason to have a garden. And besides the green effect, you can also ensure that the fruit and vegetables you grow are organic.
If you want to take your money saving ways to a higher level, you can do like we did and actually replace all of your landscaping with fruit bearing trees and bushes. For example, did you know that you can buy cherry bushes that only grow 3-4 feet tall and that yield a decent amount of cherries, including the nice looking spring blossoms. And blueberries are an ornamental shrub that grow very slowly so you don’t need to trim them every year. And when fully grown, a single blueberry plant can yield ten pounds of berries. There are many other ornamental berry bushes such as honey berries, jostaberries, gooseberries and ligonberries that all have the same good qualities and can beautify your yard.
Now that we’ve laid out some ideas for your garden, let’s talk about how much money you can really save with a garden. To get an idea, let’s say you planted five tomato plants and two apple trees. Tomatoes, in season, typcially sell for about $1.50 per pound. One tomato plant can yield as much as 20 pounds of fruit. That means that your five tomato plants can produce $150 worth of tomatoes. If you typically buy organic tomatoes, this figure can double. And it only costs about $5 for the plants or $2 for a packet of seeds that can be used for several years worth. Now, let’s look at what an apple tree can produce. Assuming you have a dwarf variety, a typical apple tree can produce as much as 300 pounds of fruit. At around a dollar per pound, this is another $600 in savings for two trees. Granted, you probably wouldn’t spend that much money on apples at the store, but they last quite a while and can be made into cider, applesauce or jam. Or, you could even consider selling them at a farmers market and making some money.
The takeaway is that you should be creative in finding ways to grow stuff around your house that will be healthy, convenient, green and also save you some money. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.