Growing Vegetables At Home

In an economic downturn such as we are currently in, sales of seeds go up. The New York Times ran an article on this direct correlation. A login is required to access the article online, but signing up is free.

Save Money on Groceries

People see the prices of food in the supermarket and read about the risk of salmonella poisoning from farmed tomatoes and think: let’s grow our own vegetables and stash the cash for the kid’s college fund or, more pragmatically, for the gas needed to get to the grocery store to buy milk. People will continue to buy milk at the grocery store. There is no correlation whatsoever between economic downturns and the purchase of cows; few people are gutsy and crazy enough to take care of a cow. Who has the space?

But vegetable gardening is another thing. Anyone can do it. The only space you need is someplace that gets direct sun, at least 6-8 hours a day, and a container. It could be something fancy like a terracotta planter with a classical frieze from the local garden center. But it could also be a wooden crate, a plastic laundry basket lined with a garbage bag, or even a pair of old leather boots. Anything. The only thing that the container must have is good potting soil and good drainage, as in holes drilled into the bottom to let excess water run out.

Container Gardening

The plants that will give the highest yield and biggest bang for your buck are the Mediterranean ones: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, zucchini.

Be sure to buy dwarf plants (also known as patio plants) for container gardening, as tomatoes are vines and peppers, eggplants, and zucchini are especially strong-minded; they will go all over the place in their full-blown forms. Also, look for small-fruiting varieties, otherwise the fruit can get large and too heavy for a container to support.

Basil and oregano and other aromatic, sun-worshipping herbs like rosemary and sage can be nestled into those same containers, making it easy to create restaurant-style meals with just a few snips. For a Caprese salad, layer tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil and you’re in business. The only thing not from your garden is the mozzarella and the purist could even leave it out and concentrate just on the full, summertime flavor of a tomato grown at home, steps from the kitchen. Delicious. And, over time, cheap enough that if your kid gets in to Yale, you might have the money to let her go.