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How Does Your Garden Grow?

You’ve probably noticed, as I have, the steady rising of grocery prices for the past several months. Grocery prices always rise, but the prices have been going up quicker and higher lately.

The predictions that I have been reading for some weeks indicate that we can expect grocery prices to rise from 3-5% over the summer because of rising petroleum costs. Tried to buy a new tire lately? All petroleum products are higher and tires about about 50% higher now than they were last year.

One thing that the average person can do to off-set some of these rising costs is to grow a garden.  The really good news is that you don’t have to be a farmer or have a green thumb to grow your own vegetables.

Seen the price of a Red Bell Pepper lately? If you use peppers in your meals, those prices alone should motivate you to try growing them yourself. 

I’ve grown a garden for many years. I’ve always enjoyed growing interesting and unusual plants as well as all the stand-bys like corn and tomatoes. But this year I am taking a different stand on my garden.  I am only going to grow foods that I know my family and I will consume. And I won’t be growing any odd varieties of the stand-bys. This year, my budget is at stake.

I’ve started by preparing my planting beds. The electric department was the instrument of answered prayer this year in that they came and took out a huge old hackberry tree and a whole bunch of smaller trees that were shading my yard and garden into oblivion.  This year I will have approximately 150 square feet more garden space.

We’ve tested the soil and have added potassium and nitrogen since we didn’t grow a cover crop last fall to till into the soil this spring. After we added fertilizer we put down 4 mil thick black landscaping fabric and weighted down the edges with rocks and boards, pots and whatever we could find. As the weather heats up the soil under the plastic gets hotter and hotter. The heat kills not only the roots of weeds and grasses but the seeds as well, also kills a lot of grubs. The result is a practically weed-free garden and I am not tempted to use chemical weed killers all summer.

Next I made a list of the vegetables that we use regularly and that I would like to grow:

Tomato from sets
Spinach from seed
Lettuce from seed
Green beans from seed
October beans (for dried beans) from seed
Purple hull peas from seed
Corn from seed
Sweet potatoes from sets
Kale from seed
Swiss chard from seed
Herbs of all kinds from sets and that come up from last year.
Okra from seed
Squash from seed and sets
Pumpkins from seed

Just that number of vegetables for 5 or more people will take up a big garden space. So I will pull out my mad square foot gardening skills. You can read about Square Foot Gardening here.

So what are you doing this year about a garden? Do you use planters? Do you think growing some vegetables can cut down your grocery bill? If you’ve never grown a garden, are you willing to try this year?


  1. Kathy

    We’ve had summer gardens for many years and LOVE it! It cuts down on our grocery bill, plus it is wonderful having fresh produce that we planted and harvested. What a benefit to be able to get vegetables out of the freezer all winter, too! We always plant Golden Queen corn, Rattlesnake Green Beans (pole), purple hull peas, okra, and tomatoes (different varieties). There’s nothing like vine-ripe tomatoes! I am also going to try cucumber and zucchini squash this year. We have never seemed to do well with peppers, but are trying again. Anyone have advice on growing peppers? We have tomatoes, jalapeno and bell pepper plants started from seed in trays. Everything else we will plant from seed in early April. Last year, we tried planting an early crop of sugar snap peas for the first time, and they were delicious! We planted them again this year in Feb., and have two beautiful rows coming up. Today we put up a wire fence between the rows for the plants to climb on.
    I like your method of killing weeds under black landscaping fabric. I had seen an idea years ago of how to cut down on weeds, and we have used it for the past seven years at least. After planting, we put down newspaper and then pinestraw/leaves on top of the newspaper. This practically eliminates weeds and grass between rows. This also keeps in moisture, and rots over time. We rake pinestraw and leaves from our acreage at times in the fall and spring, and have a big pile waiting by the garden. But… the black landscaping fabric sounds much faster!!

  2. Becca

    We have plenty of garden space and I have free reign for the first time in years. Like you, I am focusing this year on only things we eat and as much of those as I can fit in. Tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes definitely. Maybe peas, spinach or lettuce.