Cooking is one of my favorite things to do. When I cook, I like to use the freshest, tastiest ingredients possible. When I realized how much I was spending on produce at my local grocery store and farmer’s market, I decided that I needed to find a less expensive way to get my produce without sacrificing taste, texture, or the incomparable essence that fresh produce provides to meals. One of the most cost effective ways I’ve found to get fresh, delicious produce for my cooking is to grow my own. When I decided to start growing my own food, I went to the Lowe’s to buy plants, pots, tools, mulch, fertilizer, and everything else I would need to get started. I looked at the prices adding up in the cart, and began to rethink my decision. How could I save money by growing my own produce when it was so expensive to get started? I took all the items and put them back on the shelves and decided to come at this from a different angle.
I looked at the seeds; they were much less expensive than plants and for so many more! Of course, it takes more time to grow from seeds, but the price difference makes it so worth it. I called a couple of my friends who I knew were thinking of getting started gardening, as well. I asked if they’d be interested in pooling our money, buying all the types of seeds we wanted, and then splitting them up. They jumped at the chance, since they were finding the start-up costs prohibitive, as well. After getting my seeds, I decided to look around at yard sales and thrift stores for the other equipment I needed such as tools and pots. As I was looking at some very reasonably priced tools at a yard sale, I struck up a conversation with a very proficient gardener who told me not to worry about pots for seed starts, but to use everyday items I would normally throw away such as yogurt containers, egg cartons (especially the heavy duty paper ones), and other small, disposable packaging.
Armed with my egg carton and my heirloom seeds, I bought a small amount of rich, loamy soil and planted my first garden plants. After they sprouted, I used the raised planters I built to transfer them into their new homes. It is such a treat to be able to go into my garden and pick ingredients for dinner. It makes cooking more fun and makes the meals I make for my family delicious and affordable!