What do “going green” and our slow economy have in common (besides the fact that they seem to be dominating the news these days)?
The truth is, one of the easiest ways to save money is lurking within our very own backyards: those with “green thumbs” are saving significantly by creating their own gardens.
Experts offer tips on how to create the most economical, albeit still beautiful and delicious (if you’re planting fruits or vegetables), backyard gardens. With Spring in the air, you don’t have to wait very long to take part in the action.
Michael and Audrey Levatino are authors of Hobby Farming, a book that offers advice on sustainable living. They give us their best bets on spring plants. We are in luck, too, because many of most suitable plants for the spring appear to be green vegetables. Because vegetables often tend to be pricey in stores, you can save a great deal by simply growing your own fresh ones at home.“Greens, such as lettuce, kale and spinach, are easy to grow from seed, like cooler weather and will produce quickly and abundantly for a few months.” Moreover, these plants are not particularly difficult to take care of. “You can grow them under a cool frame or row cover in only four inches of compost with no fertilizer. Peas are also a prolific cool weather crop,” say the Levatinos.
What are the most economical (but still pretty!) types of flowers to grow in your gardens? Vickie Smith, editor of Ark Essentials Inc Publishing, which promotes books and articles about provident and sustainable living, makes the case for mums, as well as pansies and violets. “Mums come in a wide variety of colors and types. They make excellent cut flowers and are good in arrangements. I like the ones that look like daisies. Pansies and violets are perfect for Spring economical flowers. Inexpensive, hardy and lots of fun colors. They are also edible! Beautiful fun addition to a basic green salad.”
Lisa Reynolds, a personal finance expert at Red Plum, one of the largest newspaper coupon outlets, offers more tips on when she has coined “saving green while going green.” “Be willing to wait-instead of buying costly starter plants, opt for seeds that come a comparative pennies [in other words, approximately $2 per pack]. She also suggests making your own mulch, utilizing coupon codes (RedPlum.com offers such deals), scouring garage sales and consignment shops for planters and watering smart. “Never water in the heat of the day, when you lose much of it to evaporation. Water deeply and less frequently to encourage good root growth. More water doesn't always mean a better lawn.”
There are also alternatives to costly mulch. “Woodchips are the preferable alternative for mulch. Most tree services are overrun with woodchips and looking for ways to get rid of them. Compost takes longer to create. Building your own compost piles using kitchen scraps, grass clippings, straw and manure is easy and should become a part of every economical garden. But you need a lot of material to make compost. Straw or dead leaves are a low cost method of obtaining the brown material you need. Grass clippings, your own kitchen scraps and manure are the best materials for the green materials needed in a compost,” claim the Levatinos.
Who had ever thought that “going green” would be this cheap and easy? Now's the time to begin honing our green thumbs. Who knows? We may end up having the most delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers in the neighborhood!