Friday, January 22, 2010

Frugal Garden even possible? Why yes it is!

Walking through my grandmothers garden I take in all the smells, colors, and textures of her huge garden. From the beautiful tomato's that I ate till my stomach hurt, the super sweet raspberries my grandfather loved, the sunflowers that laid out in the sun to dry, and even the beautiful onions that I would not eat. Traveling out to my grandmothers was all about the garden to me. I was not there to visit or hang out with the family. I was only there for the food. Running into the kitchen to grab several plastic containers my grandmother would save and use for the picking produce and next thing you heard was her screen door slamming behind me as I take off into the garden.Every year this was our ritual. Summer time meant heading off to the garden. Only rule was that if you wanted anything from the garden, you had to help out with the garden. Help tilling up the soil, planting the seeds, picking weeds, harvesting everything, and help canning or freezing it. No lazy gardeners here. My favorite part of all was giving out produce to our friends or neighbors. We lived in low income housing apartments so there were plenty of people who were in need of free food. This is what gardening was all about for me. I am blessed to have all these experiences and memories. I believe this is how I became the woman I am today. Thank you mom for giving me all of this.
Can you have a frugal garden? Why yes! Over the years I have learned tricks on how to save money with your garden. I will over time bring you more and more tips but for now lets just start with the seeds. These are my seeds I ha
ve collected for this years garden. In total I might have paid about $10 for all of these.
5 packets alone regular price would be over $10. Here is how I do it.

After season sales
This years sales benefit next years garden. After the garden season is over, you want to head over to the stores you know do not carry these items seasonally. Try to wait for at least a month after the season is over before you go hunting for seeds. This way you can get them for 90% off instead of 50% or 75% off. All the seeds above in light blue were bought at Walgreen's for about a nickel each. This is great for a few reasons. Your paying almost nothing for seeds that will grow so many. If you can or freeze your produce, you save on money all year. Also you get to try new things you normally would not due to only buying what you need. I love flowers but cannot see buying them (especially annual's) just to have to replant them the next year. Getting them for pennies allows me to try new stuff.

Free seeds
Sometimes when you order plants on the Internet or from the catalog, they will send you free seeds. They want to encourage you to buy more by giving you free gifts. They think by doing this you will want to buy more. I see it as free seeds! The white/green seed packet is Huckleberry Tree seeds. My father in law gave these to me because he has no need for them. I believe he received them for free with some tree's he bought. Also during the summer you can get free seeds. There are a few programs that will send you free seeds to help with bug population. I was able to get sunflower and tomato seeds last summer this way. So keep an eye out for those.

Each summer I travel 30 minutes to Sauvie Island here in Oregon. They have a wonderful farm called The Pumpkin Patch that grows and sells all its amazing produce and flowers. Anything I didn't grow in my garden, I buy from them. Last summer I wised up. Why not collect seeds from produce I bought from the farm? It has to be easy right? Well not always. I love pumpkin in just about any type of dessert. They had over a dozen amazing beautiful pumpkins they were selling and I would only be able to get those type of seeds if I ordered them off the Internet or catalog. Ah ha! Why don't I save the seeds and grow my own! I simply cut a pumpkin in half, scooped the seeds out, and baked it. I put the pumpkin puree into freezer safe containers and froze it for later use. The seeds I simply washed off with water and laid out to dry. This is where "sorta" comes in play. If you do not let them dry long enough, they can mold. So if you think they are dry, let them dry another week. In the picture I was able to only save 3 types of pumpkin seeds. Trial and error. This year will be better.
Organic or not
These seeds above I bought at New Season's for 75% off. I really want a all organic garden but know when I'm living a frugal life, there was no way I would spend $3 per pack of seeds. Yes in the long run its an investment and my money would go far. I simply do not have that kind of money. So what I do is hit the all natural stores who I knew carried them seasonally. All the seed packets above are certified USDA Organic. The yellow packs kinds urked me because they were in plastic bags. Yes they can be recycled but why do it to begin with? These seeds had a sell by date of 10/10 so I knew they would be find until next summer. Also they had some beautiful plants that I would normally not be able to find in my local garden store. Just look at that amazing red sunflower! Buying these after the season gives me the chance to be an organic farmer.

Sharing seeds
Have a friend or family member who also gardens? Share seeds with each other and save even more money. My husbands co worker knew I gardened and gave me 5 tomato plants that I did not have. They grew huge and I has so many tomato's that the kids were allowed to go in the garden and eat any they wanted whenever they wanted. And there the memories flood in again....I did the same thing as a child. My neighbor has an amazing garden around all of her property that I just sit and stare at in amazement. Picturing myself bowing down in awww. I'm not worthy I'm not worthy! She share's seeds with me. Last summer she paid my daughters to take care of her garden and dog while her family went on vacation. My girls were in garden heaven! Not only did she allow us to eat anything we wanted but she had 5 lbs of oranges and 5 lbs of carrots in her fridge for us to eat. Oh and a half bottle of wine for the parents. Yummy! My girls loved the opportunity to do this for her. Just get with your friends/family and make a plan before the garden season is here. Learn new tips, money saving tips, and help each other out.

Cannot wait to blog about compost, garden planning, and bringing you amazing pictures (thanks to my new amazing camera) to share with all of you. This garden season will be just amazing. I'm so excited!

1 comment:

Tammy said...

Thanks for the post...I also took some seeds from a green, yellow, orange and red pepper that I bought recently. They were so good and I'm hoping that they grow well (last year I got some horrible pepper plants that didn't grow worth a hill of beans).
Also, I heard that you should put your leftover seeds in the freezer during summer/fall/winter, so that is where mine are at...but I'm wondering if I need to get them out and let them come to room temp before planting, or can I just plant them straight from the freezer??
This is only my second year gardening and I'm still learning from trial and error (mostly error - LOL).