Frugal Win – Gardening

As folks in the community work towards their financial independence, they work on all sorts of ways to reduce their need to spend money. From less expensive cars, to renewable energy, to smaller homes, we explore ways to reduce our costs and move closer to financial independence. Heck, some of us bike to work for gosh sakes!

One of the ways you can help reduce costs is to produce some of your own food. The Frugalwoods actually went to go live on a farm and work to do this for themselves! Here at Casa 39 Months we are a little more low key. We have some spring vegetables that we like to eat (Brocolli, Califlower, Cabbage) and some Summer Vegetables we like (Squash, Tomatoes, etc.) so we set up three raised beds in a corner of the yard to raise them.

The build wasn’t hard. I went and purchased some 8ft 2×12 and 2×4 lumber at the local store, as well as some 3-1/2” deck screws. I then cut some of the 2x12s into 24” lengths with a handsaw (you could also use a powered circular saw) and built up a 2ft x 8ft box. I cut up the 2x4s into 24” lengths and put them inside to screw the 2x12s into – that way it was all screwed together and solid.

To fill that in, I put in a bunch of “Mel’s Mix” which is the gardening fill that Mel Bartholomew developed for his square foot gardening method (see below). Its consists of:

  • 1/3 Compost/Manure
  • 1/3 Peat Moss
  • 1/3 Vermiculite

Note: this is a highly productive mix. It can be updated in the following years by buying some parts of it and refilling the beds.

Once full, I planted this spring’s crops, one set of seeds every square foot. Its taken some time to weed and water (though the year has been wet so far) and we seem to be having some crops grow! I forgot to space out my planting (plant some this week, plant some later) so they’d mature at different rates. Still, we’ve had success in the past, and look forward to eating our own vegetables this year. Another way to get “off the grid” more.

Some books that I think help with the topic

  • Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew: Great book on how to grow a lot in a small space
  • Grow or Die by David the Good: Good book on how to “just get started” gardening

Happy Dirt Digging!

Mr. 39 Months

2 thoughts on “Frugal Win – Gardening”

  1. I love fresh fish and my wife and I love to catch fish but if we figured out the price per ounce of fish we actually eat versus the cost of the boat, fuel, tackle and time we could eat truffles, caviar and fresh lobster for less than the silly fish cost us. We also have had home gardens and while the math is not nearly as bad as self fishing, self growing also feels like a wonderfully tasty venture with some satisfaction of doing it yourself and organically that costs more than buying the same produce at Walmart. But maybe you are more efficient than my wife is at growing veggies.

    1. You are correct that in many cases, its probably less expensive to get it from a mass growing farm than to make it yourself. I live in Southern New Jersey, the “Garden State” and the name is well deserved. The bottom half of the state is nothing but farms (or 100 houses built on what used to be a farm) so its pretty easy to go to a farmer’s market on Saturday and get fresh produce. I think of this more as a way to be self-sufficient and to further my efforts to be “off the grid.” If there ever is a major disruption (no, I’m not really a prepper) I’d like to have the resources to survive a few weeks if necessary. Plus its fun to make stuff grow on your own!

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