Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it may sprout in the least expected places.

By Hannah Coughlin

Eat More Nutritiously
Lower Grocery Bills.

With the economic changes in 2011 came a larger-than-expected i
ncrease in food prices (4.8% for home-consumers), leaving many families looking for solutions to reducing food bills while eating nutritious, organic foods. As a result, many households have turned to edible gardening as a way to offset costs. In fact, studies conducted by W. Atlee Burpee Co show that the return on investment for home-grown produce is better than 1 to 25. That’s $25 worth of produce for every $1 you sink into the ground! For families that go even further and freeze, can, or dry their harvest, the return climbs even higher.

Give them an inch, they’ll grow a pound. According to the National Gardening Association, one square foot of garden space can provide a half-pound of fresh vegetables (and that’s a conservative estimate). At current market prices for organic produce, even a small patio container garden can save you $100 in groceries.

There’s a first for everything. It’s understandable to be intimidated by the process of planting your first food garden, especially if you believe your restricted schedule, spatial limitations, or “brown thumb” have sealed your fate. Be encouraged. Plants want to grow – even in the Pacific Northwest. If you feel overwhelmed, start your first garden in a pot (there are plenty of container veggies and herbs to choose from). Half-a-dozen pots or one 3x3’ plot is a good start for beginners and will provide a satisfying harvest while you learn.

Help is available. Use it. There are countless resources just within Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties to help you become a confident and successful food gardener. For hands-on workshops to lead you through the process step-by-step, consider attending The Savvy Urban Gardener workshop series above The RE Store March 6th – April 7th. You can also participate in monthly in-the-garden classes and work parties at The RE Patch community garden, which are always open to the public. For further resources of gardening assistance in your area, contact Hannah.

Top Ten Reasons why you should start an edible garden this year.
1. You can’t get more local than your backyard
2. A unique sense of empowerment and self-sufficiency
3. Peace of mind from knowing what’s in your food and where it came from
4. Higher nutrient levels in your food
5. Supplementing your household food supply and saving grocery money
6. The joy of dining on a meal of produce you grew
7. An opportunity to teach your kids (or roommates) where food comes from.
8. The ability to eat rare and expensive vegetable varieties (like heirloom tomatoes!)
9. Stress reduction from working with plants and soil.
10. A thinner waistline (you will inevitably eat more fruits and vegetables if you grow them)

As international horticulturist and instructor, Derek Duffy, puts it, “When you begin to see the life that springs up from a seedling, you will never forget it. You will naturally be inclined to nurture it to fruition. Like parenting, it’s equally rewarding and forever new.”


  1. I am planning to have some succulent container gardens. But I am having a doubt whether to plant succulent plants or to start an edible garden.

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