Ok kids, so the economy is in the toilet. The recession has been officially announced, and by the end of the month you have just enough cash to keep the television on and maybe a cheap six pack to drown your worries and things are only going to get worse.
Cheery though right?
Well it’s time to start doing something about it, like knocking a cool 25% off your weekly trips to the grocery store.
First off, you need to be cooking at home. If your not, your handing huge chunks of your paycheck to the drive through, and your getting very little for it. It’s not good food, we all know this, It’s only more convenience because your used to doing it, and it’s killing you. American restaurants have produced the fattest country in the history of man.
If this is you, get a few cook books, put a menu together, and spend Sunday afternoon making a few meals that will last most of the week, and presto, after that your cooking maybe 20 minutes a meal. No biggie and your already saving truckloads of money.
So, grow your own produce, seems like a pain in the butt. It’s not. It takes very little time or effort, you save cash, Food taste better with fresher ingredients, and oh yeah, your saving the planet as you do it. They called them Victory Garderns in world war two, and they weren’t grown because the Allied troops needed the potatoes more, they did it because it saved gas. You need gas to run the farm, you need gas to ship the crop to the store, you need gas to get to the store to buy the food. So- Grow it at home, and co2 emissions drop world wide, gas prices go down, and everybody benefits.
Still on board?
Now, the patio. Aside from all the effort you think it takes, most people aren’t growing their own food because they live in the city. This means an apartment, a condo, a duplex, or some other residence that doesn’t come with 2 acres to play around with. But you got a patio right? So your all set. The initial investment is about 100$ for pots and soil, Takes a few hours to get all your plants set up, and then maybe a half hour a week in watering them. So unless your a smoker, an avid barbecuer, or have an awesome view your hardly out there anyway. Your paying for the square footage, so this way you at least have a reason to be out there, so lets get down to it.
Different crops grow better in different climates, so your going to have to do a little bit of research, but the core principles are the same. Space, value, and tastiness.
Space is limited out there, so you don’t want to set up fruits or veggies that take too much room, or that cost next to nothing to buy at the store. Very little reason to grow your own potatoes when they are less then a dollar per pound shipped in from Iowa. Concentrate your efforts on the ones that your going to eat a lot of, that take the biggest bite out of you budget.
Fresh Herbs are the best place to start. Pots and plants total take up maybe a few square feet, dollar for volume herbs are about the most expensive form of produce, Fresh herbs are more flavorful then dried, and if you want to, you can grow them indoors and they make the whole house smell nice. With an abundant supply on hand all of your cooking benefits.
Now, you got an herb garden, what’s next.
Tomatoes. We are talking efficient use of space, and this is the best plant to learn about simple hydroponic gardening. You are going to need a few more materials for this one then the herb garden, but it’s worth it, because they grow suspended above the patio, saving you all the space below. You need to create or purchase some starter plants, and then source a number of empty 3 liter soda bottles or gallon milk jugs. Remove the bottoms of the bottle and will with soil, place the starter plant inside the neck of the bottle and suspend it upside down and attach to the ceiling or ledge. Also, like the herb garden these can even be grown indoors if you live in a cold climate, or have no patio.
So now you have fresh herbs and tomatoes, you can make any number of Italian sauces, and it’s costing you nothing to do so. For space underneath your hydroponics, place floor pots and go nuts with them. Squash, leafy vegetables, berries, whatever works best for your climate that you have a taste for.
Remember, space and value. Pick up a table or an old bookshelf from a yard sale, and double or triple your growing space. If you live someplace that gets too hot in the summer like I do, you can even cut into your apartment cooling costs because now you have something besides naked concrete and an exterior wall to soak up all that heat.
If done tastefully, your patio is a much nicer environment to be in, as it’s now a garden after all.