Growing your own food at home can really cut down on your food bill. Food is expensive. As we noted in a prior post, the average grocery store bill can consume up to eight percent of your total budget.
Creating your own food can really take a bite out of that bill.
In fact, the National Gardening Association estimates that you can reduce your food bill by $500 per year, per acre of well-maintained garden that you keep. This figure assumes production of one-half pound of food per square foot of garden, is net of all investments in plants, fertilizer and the like and is based on average market produce prices.
How Much Can You Save Growing Your Own Food?
How much can you save? It depends on your circumstances. There is a great little savings calculator you can use located here.
I can personally attest to the value of growing your own food. I was lucky. I had a girlfriend with a green thumb and a passion for gardening. We ate free produce all summer and fall long. Not only did this cut our food bill, but we knew that we were not eating genetically modified food and were eating produce that had no pesticides.
Best of all, the fresh picked food tasted much better than store bought. There is nothing quite as good as a free salad with the lettuce still warm from the sun.
A Couple of Savings Tips
Growing your own food at home is not free. But with a little effort, you can keep your costs down. For example, you can often find free manure on Craigslist to use for fertilizer. You will have to go pick it up however.
Start a compost heap now and in a year you won’t even need the fertilizer, you can use the enriched soil that you produce instead. A compost heap is simply a disposal pile for all of your organic waste, including lawn and garden clippings and food waste from your kitchen. Since these wastes take up to 25% of landfills, you will also be helping the environment by having a compost heap.
Seeds are really inexpensive, but small plants are easier to have success with (at least in my experience). In the spring, look for local community garden clubs that often have plant sales. I have found great savings at these.
Maintaining a successful garden can be a real labor of love. It can be classified as one of those cheap, but time consuming hobbies that we discussed earlier. But not everyone has the time or inclination to weed, fertilize, till and water.
Passive Food Production
For those people, as well as the gardening devotees, there is another path. You can grow food that will keep on producing year after year without constant attention. It is sort of like the passive stream of income that we all pursue so passionately. Like passive income, this avenue will take a few years to pay off, but the investment will be worth the wait.
I’m talking about fruit trees, berries and grapes.
Grapes and berries, once planted, will just continue to grow and grow and grow. My experience was with strawberries. Once planted, mine grew like wildfire. And they produced in the first season. Grapes will follow the same course and it is possible to build an arbor out of scrap wood. Blueberries too will grow year after year, although I am told that they are a little more stubborn to get started.
Fruit trees are my favorite however. Granted, they require more space and time, but once they get going they will provide endless food and money savings. Where I grew up, we had 15 mature apple trees. I can still taste the homemade, free, apple sauce. We produced so many apples that we could not possibly use them all.
In addition to apple trees, you can think about pear, plum and cherry trees. If you are in the right, warm, climate, orange trees are another option.
Never Pay for Fruit Again
Once the trees are established, you might never have to pay for fruit again! How great would that be?
If you start growing your own food at home you will realize several benefits. First, you will save money, and potentially a lot. Second, your food will taste great and be free of unwanted pesticides and unwanted genetically altered material. You could, quite possible, improve the health of your family. And third, you could help the environment by doing things like starting a compost heap.
Growing your own food is a win, win, win all the way around.