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Old 02-02-2005, 06:32 AM   #1
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My wife and I love gardening and though we haven't had the space or time to keep a kitchen garden for the last few years, we're already planning next year's post-ER patch.

Cost savings may vary. Everyone has different tastes, methods, lives in different climate zones, etc. However, what's the group's experience? Is growing 'em cheaper than buying 'em?

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Re: Gardening
Old 02-02-2005, 06:56 AM   #2
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Re: Gardening

Gardening is one of my deepest loves - I actually feel grateful a lot of the time to dig large holes and haul heavy buckets!

That said, I wouldn't say gardening always provides cheaper produce, but what we grow TASTES better than most supermarket garbage. If you have limited space, check out the book "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew and that will get you started. We grow fresh herbs, tomatoes, and salad mixes in our small raised beds. You can also supplement what you grow by visiting your local farmers' market or buying a share in a local CSA (community supported agriculture).

Happy gardening!
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Re: Gardening
Old 02-02-2005, 08:45 AM   #3
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Re: Gardening

Cost savings may vary. *Everyone has different tastes, methods, lives in different climate zones, etc. *However, what's the group's experience? *Is growing 'em cheaper than buying 'em?
I think it depends on what you grow, what you would buy instead (e.g. "factory" tomatoes with no taste or tomatoes from the the farmer's market), and where you are. *We don't have a lot of space nor do we have a lot of sunny space. *We have a small yard with two large trees on the south side - great for keeping the house cool in the summer but not so good for growing stuff. *We mostly limit ourselves to growing herbs. *These are the high cost items - dollars per pound - and you often only need small sprig or two when cooking. *We turned a bunch of left over basil into pesto at the end of last year's growing season. *That turned out so well that we're going to plant some extra basil and try to get two crops this year (start a little earlier) so that we can make a lot more pesto.

My wife is more into the gardening than I am but I've almost always had some herbs growing in the window or such ever since I left my parent's home. Fresh herbs are just so much nicer than dried for most things.
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Re: Gardening
Old 02-02-2005, 09:44 AM   #4
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Re: Gardening

After much experimenting, I've settled on the following as annual grows. A couple grow year round here in northern cal. All grown in large tubs set up on either the concrete walkway or an old wood deck one of which gets full sun all day and one of which gets full sun half of the day. On the drip watering system. Landscape fabric on top of the dirt to prevent weed growth. 3 month fertilizer granules. Pretty much go pick stuff when you want it, almost no maintenance.

Cherry tomatoes - Mature faster than the bugs can dig into them, and with a large shrub you can have 6-20 per day. $2 for six plants, I give four away to neighbors and relatives (here...have a tomato plant) and grow two. Cost is negligible. Taste is far superior.

Jalapeno peppers - Big bush, pick em young and green and they're like green peppers, pick em old and red and they'll steam your face off. At least where I grow them and how I grow them, the degree of heat and what causes it appears to be unknown. I get more than enough to supply any sauce/salsa/pepper bit needs for about 9-10 months of the year. When the bush gets too full, I pick and freeze the green ones and dry the red ones in the toaster oven on 'warm'. The dry red ones go in the blender and are reduced to red pepper flakes or chili powder. When the bag o' green ones gets too full, I stem them and puree with vinegar, water and salt, boil and put in a big olive oil bottle in the fridge. I have hot sauce and chili powder coming out of my ears. Cost of all this is also negligible.

Herbs - I grow curly and flat leaf parsley, which grows year round here. 4 types of basil (sweet, thai, cinnamon and lemon), chives, mint and catnip. Other than a little pruning here and there, effort free. One or more of these goes into almost everything I cook. I keep them on the concrete walkway next to the back door off the kitchen. Few snips with some kitchen shears, a quick rinse and in the pot. The mint is growing as a hedge around my lemon tree, about knee high and in an area about 8x12'. I'll probably have to rip that out once the baby starts toddling around outside as its a HUGE bee attracter. A lot of the local farms have hives, and clearly one of them is turning out a lot of mint honey this year.

Almost everything else I've tried - large green peppers, large tomatoes, eggplant, etc...either was attacked by bugs, a pain in the butt to grow or ended up yielding way too small an amount.

This may vary wildly in other areas/climates...I live in the middle of where a whole lotta food gets grown and you cant turn around without tripping over a farm stand around here, so veggies, honey and so forth are very inexpensive and high quality.
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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Re: Gardening
Old 02-02-2005, 05:25 PM   #5
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Re: Gardening

I have 3 brand new raised beds that will be planted with tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, bunnernut squash, green beans, snap peas and basil.

I can't wait. I'll start the seeds in small newspaper pots that will right in the ground when it's warm enough.

I have a compost pile too, but it won't be ready for awhile. I'm still adding to it.

Happy gardening
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Re: Gardening
Old 02-03-2005, 12:14 PM   #6
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Re: Gardening

Mango, tangerines, lychee, lemons, guava (both "regular" yellow & strawberry), starfruit, taro, macadamia, banana, ginger, and coconuts. We also have three betel-nut trees which are occasionally a cash crop from a pretty scary group of customers.

Those are just the trees we "inherited" when we bought the place. We've been expanding the lot's border by planting bougainvillea & a local tree that grows well without extra water. We've also added papaya and we'll try tomatoes in a few weeks.

Right now compost is our #1 crop. There are only so many ways to eat mango & starfruit...

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