Get down and dirty in the garden
It doesn’t look like much more than an icy patch of dirt now, but over the summer, that patch was my parents’ backyard food oasis.
My parents’ organic food garden cost $85 and a little elbow grease to get everything ready to turn a 3-foot-by-14-foot patch of manicured lawn into an organic food garden. The organic food garden is stocked full of tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, Italian sweet peppers, basil, cilantro and other goodies. My parents didn’t spend a dime on any chemical fertilizers to help the garden grow, and they still managed to produce some organic vegetables that would put grocery store produce to shame (the record zucchini length stands at 21 inches!).
With a little love and hard work, my parents' organic food garden thrived. Photo Courtesy Amanda Thompson.
My parents are among millions of other Americans who have decided to grow their own food. From 2008 to 2009, seven million more households made a commitment to grow their own organic fruits, veggies, herbs or berries from home, according to a National Gardening Association, survey. Millions of those at-home gardeners are planning to grow organic food using only all-natural fertilizers, pest and weed controls. The number of people who wanted to grow organic food more than doubled based on NGA studies done in 2004 and 2008.
Many Americans are giving organic gardening a try in an effort to save money. The same NGA survey estimates that a well-maintained organic food garden can save a household $500 when balancing the investment of the organic food garden and the price of food. My parents spend most of their $85 on rubber tubing (to mark off the garden from the rest of the yard) and some much-needed gardening tools. Because they already bought the basics, the cost of maintenance will be even lower this summer.
Another possible money saver? My dad held out on getting medicine to control his cholesterol until the end of the summer. By the time he went back to the doctor, he was told his cholesterol was well under control and that he no longer needed any medicine. With a garden a few feet out your back door, it’s hard not to eat well.