One of my favorite healthy ways to cut our grocery bill is to use what we have growing in the garden! I started the garden two years ago, shortly after my daughter was born, and since then there has been much growth and learning!
A couple weeks ago, we pulled up the last of our winter garden- I had left one bed full of winter greens and one last cauliflower left that I had planted our spring seeds around. I have found it is actually easier to grow a more bountiful fall garden here in Phoenix than a spring one. It’s such a crazy unknown of when the triple digit weather will scorch my poor plants and if you plant to early then in a year like this you can struggle with some late freezes. Next year I might try to start some more seeds indoors to help with this, but I’ve had too many sprouts die in the past when I tried to transplant them so I definitely prefer direct sowing when possible.
We keep a garden for a variety of reasons, so the seeds we pick each season try to reflect all those reasons. We like to try new things (with varying degrees of success), we plant some things, like zucchini, that we know we will eat a ton of and that are also high yielding crops- (we can get a dozen zucchini from a single seed so that’s always worth it!) and then we pick some seeds that we know won’t grow very big or have high yield, but give our children joy- like the carrots we keep planting because they are my son’s favorites or the pumpkin he asked us to plant last year that didn’t quite turn all the way orange, but he still thought was the BEST thing we’ve ever grown.
In our spring garden this year we’ve planted a few zucchini, some kale since that seems to do slightly better in heat than the spinach and lettuce that like to bolt in the warmer weather, some cucumber and carrots and I’m trying my hand at herbs even though I have the WORST track record with them- we put them in a little pot for my son to be responsible for this season and at least we have some sprouts now! If we get any usable basil or cilantro then that’s a bonus.
We also always plant a few flowers. I am OBSESSED with zinnias and sunflowers in the summer. I didn’t have room for both this year so we went with Zinnias because they are more prolific and having flowers on our table makes me SO happy, but going out to buy flowers just isn’t in our budget. I still have some calendula hanging on from the winter, but I think it will get too warm for that soon so I might pull that out this month and try planting some celosia… things are busy with rehearsals though so we’ll see!
Here’s another frugal perk about the garden this season: IT WAS PRACTICALLY FREE! We bought one bag of soil to make up for some we lost and I had some fertilizer left from last season and we decided to spend $0 on seeds for our spring garden- I’m using some I had left over from previous years, some from my local library’s free seed sharing program, and some from seed I saved myself from last year’s plants. I’d love some day to have even more space to grow food and to get better at learning seed saving, canning, etc. I don’t see us ever turning to homesteading given our plans to stay in Phoenix, but I do see us being able to provide more of our own grocery needs in the years to come as long as we keep the garden a priority!
Spring is such a great time to try out gardening. Even just the process of watching something grow has been so good for my soul and so educational for my kids. You can even grow herbs in a mason jar if you are looking for a low level start up cost! Are you growing anything this season? I’d love to hear about it!