My current home doesn't have a verandah but I'd like it to! A long porch surrounding the entire house. With a porch swing, potted blueberry plants, and a long strong dog laying at my feet. The sweet smell of lrosemary and freshly-turned soil wafting across my yard. The chickens clucking contentedly as they scratch for goodies in the fertile dirt. Knowing we have a full root cellar, trees in the orchard about to drop their bounty, and soup made all from hand-picked harvests bubbling in the crockpot. Heaven.

Please move with me over to my current blog, ... thank you!

The 2 Dollar Garden Challenge

I got my monthly issue of Backwoods Home Garden last week (or the week before?) and with great interest read the article about the $1.00 garden. The author and her mother had been hearing about how expensive it can be to garden enough to produce food for a family to eat fresh AND to put away. They figured there had to be a cheaper way and conducted an experiment using cheap seeds and very little else. With the exception of basil, all produced wildly. Their experiment was done on a relatively small plot - I think it was about 32 square feet.

This got me thinking. I've spent so much on seeds for our 2010 garden. Yes, I have a lot more property this year, and I really prefer heirloom seeds, which are always more expensive, but next year will be cheaper because I plan to save seeds this year. Meanwhile, could it indeed be done using cheaper seeds? Saving for the next year wouldn't really be possible (never know what mutant would grow) but still... can we help figure out how to do it cheaper?

Isn't this the very epitome of self-sufficiency?

So while we were at Wal-Mart yesterday, I saw their seeds were already out, and this year, they actually had the cheapo seeds too! Those by American Seed/Plantation Products, that are 20 cents a pack. I usually find them at the Dollar Tree, and sometimes towards the end of the Summer for only 10 cents a package. For this year's special garden ... here's what I bought:

-Cabbage (Early Golden Acre)
-Cucumber (Poinsett 76)
-Dill (Long Island Mammoth)
-Lettuce (Grand Rapids - Leaf)
-Pepper (Grand Bell Mix)
-Pole Bean (Kentucky Wonder)
-Pumpkin (Small Sugar)
-Carrot (Chantenay)
-Sunflower (Mammoth Russian)

The cucumbers are slicers, not the pickling kind but should do well anyway, especially as ice-box pickles. The dill will be used to pickle the cucumbers, and also to make kraut out of cabbage. Both good for storage. The lettuce will be eaten fresh. The bell peppers (a mix of all colors) will be eaten fresh but also dehydrated. The beans will be eaten fresh (some) but mostly frozen or canned. I might even dry some to shell for "dried beans" during the winter. The pumpkins will store well in the basement or a root cellar for winter consumption, and we can also eat the seeds for protein. The carrots will be eaten fresh right away, canned or dehydrated for winter use, and we'll try to store some in hay to eat fresh in winter. The sunflowers provide beauty but also seeds for winter protein.

The above seeds cost $1.80, 9 packages at 20 cents each. I couldn't find any tomatoes (the seeds were picked over already!), but realized I knew someone who just got a free package of heirloom roma tomato seeds for a large order of heirloom seeds. We're trading! For the package of 10 roma seeds, I'm giving half my cabbage and half my dill. I'm holding back that last 20 cents for when I find a packet of marigold seeds. Marigolds are a great companion plant because lots of bugs hate the smell.

The roma tomatoes are a good paste tomato, so I'll dehydrate most of them and can some of the rest. I can think of so many combinations of using these veggies. Of course I'll need to buy onions and garlic and potatoes and quinoa, but if I'm thrifty, I can still get away with spending almost nothing at the grocery. So, yeah, I believe a person could definitely live off of these, if s/he HAD to.

Soon after we get settled in, we'll mark off our $2 garden plot, and start adding our rabbit's poop, some of the hay she tosses out of her crate (she's weird!), and anything else we can do to amend our soil without spending money. The sellers of this house left behind some wood, and maybe I can use some yarn (triple or quadruple thickness) to make some kind of a trellis for the beans. The sunflowers will provide a strong support for the cukes. Gonna have to figure out something for the tomatoes. We'll let the pumpkins ramble out of each corner.

When I have updates, I'll post them about how our $2 Garden is going.

BUT... Here's the challenge. It's Spring. The perfect time for planning a garden and hunting down seeds. So... I challenge you to find a supplier of cheapo seeds, and spend no more than $2.00 for a variety of items. Then make a small garden area in your backyard, or even in containers, using NO special potting soil or anything else that you need to buy. Starting compost to use right now is acceptable. Lasagna and square foot gardening not only acceptable but encouraged! If you need a trellis for your cucumbers or tomato plants, perhaps you can barter a few seeds or something else for those. Maybe barter on Craigslist? Start your seeds early in pots you make out of newspaper (more on that another time). Then grow grow grow and then harvest harvest harvest! Let's spend this 2010 Summer growing enough to feed ourselves for the Summer and to put away for Fall and Winter on just $2.00. Can you do it? I believe you can!

Do you accept this challenge?

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MEB said...

Now is the time to start your plants inside a sunny area. I use styrafoam cups that have been tossed away. Just punch holes in the bottom and fill with dirt and seed. I don't even buy compost. Just plain 'ol dirt. Cheap and cheaper.

Dunappy said...

I saved seeds from last years garden so I'm not buying any seeds at all this year. I'm using old newspapers from my work as mulch and ground cover. I also set my beans squash and corn up in a three sisters garden style so the beans use the corn as a trellis.

Vikki said...

MEB and Dunappy: Great! You've already started cheap gardens. Keep us posted on how much you harvest from your virtually-free garden! Vikki