8 Money-Saving Tips on Gardening in the City

I’ve been putting off writing my garden post this week, not because I’m lacking inspiration, but because I’ve been so busy! But I will say this time of year is very exciting for me and my husband, as we plan out and start planting our garden.

This year we have something new that has been sitting on our kitchen counter. We picked up this beauty on Craig’s List and, actually, it has changed gardening for us.

Have you ever heard of the Aerogarden?

Before I tell you about how we grow our own starts, I want to chat about some discussions that Paul and I have. Yes, we have our favorite veggies we love to grow each year–the standard tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, beans, potatoes–you get the idea. But each year we also like to branch out to try something new … like ground cherries. Talk about a unique conversation starter around the table as you serve up a platter of these nutty, vanilla-ish tasting treats! (My husband says they are the up and coming fruit.)

As I’ve written in my past 2 gardening posts, we’ve turned many of our flower beds in our back yard (on a city lot) into garden vegetable beds. Today I’m exploring why we grow what we grow, and also some money-saving thoughts on gardening.

8 Ways to Save Money by Growing your Own Vegetables
1. Plan out your garden space before you shop. The easiest way to overspend at the garden store is to not have your garden mapped out with the number of plants or seeds you need to buy. Garden websites, like Territorial Seed, will help you plan out the space. We have found them to be very helpful and innovative.

2. Think it through. For example. garlic and corn simply are more effecient to buy in the store than to grow on a city lot. It’s all relevant, but corn and garlic take a ton of space and water, so think of what you could be growing in that space. Because of our friend Connie, who wrote the NEW Sonoma Diet book (you can enter to win a copy of her book!), we’re encouraged to try to grow peppers this year. For some reason we had difficulty getting our peppers to ripen in the past.

3. Grow what would be cheaper on your own, than to buy in the store. For example, it’s cheaper to grow your own tomatoes than to buy them in the store. And especially lettuce and strawberries with this year’s problems in California, and besides, they taste much better. Onions, on the other hand, compete for space and sunlight, yet you can’t tell a huge difference of homegrown and store bought. We’ve opted to NOT use our city-lot space for onions.

4. Grow what your family likes. Plan your garden around the vegetables you will be cooking with and that your family will eat. We love beets, but our kids aren’t as fond as them. On the other hand they love my Zucchini noodles, so we plant a ton of zucchinis and other squashes. (This year I plan to post a few new canning recipes!)

5. Grow what does well in your zone and grows well in your type of soil. Don’t forget to save your coffee grounds for a richer compost (plant matter such as leaves, grass clippings, vegetable trimmings, egg shells, etc.). Compost does wonderful things for your garden’s soil. We also use a lot of straw (you’ll see it in pictures).

6. Start your own plants. With our NEW Aerogarden, we’ve already saved a ton of money this year and it’s been an exciting process. Seeds are inexpensive, it just takes a little patience to get them “started” inside.

7. Plant in succession. Don’t plant crops such as lettuce all at once. Plant some every week or so that there is always a fresh crop ready to pick. You want to plant what you can harvest and eat or can, without having any go to waste.

8. Plant according to the season. Cool weather crops such as kale, swiss chard, and spinach don’t like the hot August heat. We just planted these last week.

There’s no way around making mistakes with gardening. You’ll learn from year to year what works for you on your piece of property. The last few years we were looking forward to asparagus, but we didn’t plant it in the right soil. This year we’re devoting a new entire bed to it.

If you are planning a garden, what stage are you in right now?

Also, please let me know if you are interested in an entire post on the AeroGarden. I also thought I’d share a picture of the “gardeners,” all cleaned up after a long day of gardening and ready for a hot date! :)

29 comments on “8 Money-Saving Tips on Gardening in the City”

  1. We just got some manure (bagged) and peat moss down in our raised gardens, last night. We have our seed purchased, but we will likely wait to plant most things because of the threat of frost. However, we have been planning where we will plant everything.

  2. I would love to hear more about the Aerogarden, though I think it’s too late for this year for me.

    Look at these: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/MediaPlayer.aspx?VideoID=31

  3. How much square footage do your gardens cover?

    • one last …. ground cherries look like tomatillos to me. My garden mentor grew them last year and they were SOO delicious out of hand. Great in salsa, of course, but we ate them like candy!

  4. Yes, please tell us more about the Aerogarden. :) I have been quite lazy regarding our garden this year. We have the ground ready, but with winds blowing like crazy I have been afraid to try to plant seeds. There is no telling where seeds might blow. :(

  5. You’re so cute w/ your hubby! I’m a miserable failure at gardens. Tried one a couple years in a row- took all of the precautions to keep critters out, and the critters still managed to outsmart me. They ate it all up- every bite!

    • We had deer eat up our garden last year. I did get some thing, but they ate all the beans and a few other things. I’ve been looking through the internet for ideas to keep them at bay since I can’t afford to build a fence this year.

  6. I’d love to hear about the Aerogarden! I have been starting my seeds indoors, but I’m always looking for new tips to make the process easier and better.

  7. Yay for gardening! When we moved I left an organic raised bed garden behind. :-( So, I’m container gardening at the rental house where we live now. I’m looking forward to less weeding and less bending over!

  8. We have had sooo much rain this winter/spring that I haven’t even worked the garden soil. I’m thinking that by the time I plant I’m going to need to buy starts and not seeds. I would love to hear about aerogarden. I’ve never heard of it.

    One thing I love to incorporate is companion planting. It is beneficial for pest control, but also when you have limited space you can grow more veggies (for example, planting something like carrots with lettuce saves space since the carrots grow under ground and the lettuce above). Many veggies complement each other if grown together, while others can actually hinder growth or attract pests.

  9. I love the photo of Paul’s leg, the boot and the black Nike sock. Your soil looks amazing, I am way behind. I hope to get out there next week and get started. Thanks for the encouragement!

  10. Yes, please. Do post about your experiences with the Aerogarden. We have 2 that we’ve also acquired at yard sales (don’t you always find the best stuff there?). We’ve had pretty good success with the pre-planted herb pods, but they’re expensive. I just bought the garden tray that I think I see in your photos, but figuring out what I’m going to do with 75 slots to plant is a bit daunting. I’d love input from an experienced gardener. Thanks

  11. Thanks for the great information. We’re building our raised beds this weekend and prepping some soil. Would love to hear about the Aerogarden!

  12. We have two garden areas, one of them has strawberries and peas along the fence. Our main garden will be a raised bed this year! We are in zone 5, so we will start planting next week! I can’t wait. I attempted to start things from seed this year, but did not have very good luck.

  13. I would love to hear about the aerogarden….liked the photo of your husband and yourself!

  14. What is that little cardboard “starter” box that you have? That looks very cool – better than our system!

  15. I would love to hear more about the Aero Garden. Please keep the garden posts coming. I need all the help I can get.

  16. Another vote here for an Aero Garden post! I mean to start some seeds every season and never manage to do so because I don’t really know where or how to start.

  17. I was just trying to decide if I should get rid of my Aerogarden, so I’d love to hear what you’re doing with yours! Also, I’m going to try (for the first time ever!) the Square Foot Gardening technique, which also uses raised beds and compost. Can’t wait to see all your beautiful veggies!

  18. Man, I really wish we had thought to plan ahead for this year. I’m going to ask for raised beds/etc for my birthday next year, so I’m bookmarking all of this year’s incredibly helpful posts. Found this one via BlogHer.

    Thank you!

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  22. Would love to know more about your experience with the Aerogarden! I garden in central Texas, and I admit I get a little discouraged when I see the progress of your beautiful Oregon garden – but I must bloom (and make things bloom) where God has “planted” me, so I keep my chin up and lavish love and attention on my little Texas garden! Thank you, Sandy!

    • Karen, the Aerogarden is very successful for starting from seed. After that you plant in the ground, so you’ll have to check out the zones and coordinate that with what you plant. We’ve grown herbs in the winter in the Aerogarden. Snip-snip. So yummy for winter salads! They also have a lot of info online. Hope that helps!

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