How to Save A Ton of Money and Have Fun Too

tomato,huge

This organic, heirloom beauty was nearly 1.3 pounds. At $5-$6 a pound in the store…

My family and I have long grown our own healthy, delicious produce. We do so for the health benefits, to know where our foods come from and because we love the feeling of taking care of ourselves (self-reliance). In recent years I have become more aware of another great benefit of growing our own produce–saving money!

Food costs continue to rise dramatically around the world. It is simple economics. More people = more food demand. Less farmers and a finite amount of land = lower supply. Low supply + high demand = higher prices!

OK, that is enough of Economics 101. Here is a step by step way to save money on produce.

First, identify all the fruits, vegetables and herbs favored by your household.

Second, see which ones will grow well in your climate and available growing space. For example, you may love grapefruit, but unless you live in a place with year-round warmth you will not be able to grow them well.

Third, decide if you are going to buy seeds or plants. Either way try to grow from nonGMO, heirloom seeds or buy plants from a grower that does.

Fourth, plan your garden. In my book I write a lot about a need to “plan your garden, then garden your plan. Planning is an essential process, but it does not have to be difficult or too time consuming. In fact, my book was carefully designed to get the reader started in edible gardening without overwhelming them with to much information. Edible gardening can be complicated, but it does not have to be. Get started with a simple approach and add to your knowledge base as time and interest levels allow.

Fifth, track you “profits”. How much money did your edible garden save you? I started doing this in earnest during the 2014 growing season. We tracked golden raspberries, tomatoes and kale production. Those 3 organically grown crops alone more than paid for all our seeds, supplies, time and efforts! This season I plan to keep a closer watch over just how much money we save across the entire harvest from our backyard edible gardens.

Lastly, HAVE FUN!!!!!

I will do my best to post updates on this topic. Please share your experiences with saving money by growing your own produce too!

broccoli,broccolini,vegetable

grab some greens and save some greenbacks!

Special Announcement!!!!!

Hello DIY Backyard Farm Fans! You are among the first to hear about the exciting release of the 2nd edition of the DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide. Now is the perfect time to plan your 2015 edible gardens and the new book can surely help. In fact, I hope I can lots of messages telling me it was the best $14 (+ tax) that you spent all season long!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 23, 2015

book cover image

New Book Cover

What’s the Simple Secret to a Thriving Edible Garden?

Reading The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide!

Last year, Greg Carbone of Backyard Enterprises LLC authored a book to help novice gardeners plan and start their own thriving edible gardens. Now his book is being released as a 2nd Edition. The new edition has a gorgeous cover photo taken in his very own edible gardens. The latest edition also contains additional content and even more useful garden planning worksheets.

The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide provides the guidance and tools needed to simply, easily and effectively plan and track edible gardens. The book provides information and tips to guide “budding” gardeners without overwhelming them. The worksheets included in the book are critical tools to help people avoid one of the biggest mistakes many edible gardeners make–failing to plan.

Greg is the “Head Farmer” and Managing Partner of Backyard Enterprises LLC. The company runs the website www.diybackyardfarm.com, which is dedicated to providing simple and easy tips to help regular folks grow their own healthy, delicious produce. Greg is on a personal mission to reconnect people (especially kids) with their foods. He believes edible gardening is one of the best ways to do it!

People have expressed a lot of initial excitement for the website and book. One might say, “the topic of edible gardening is really growing!”

Greg will be speaking and signing books at local New Jersey garden centers and libraries throughout the spring and summer growing seasons. Check out the website or the DIY Backyard Farm Facebook page for details. The book can also be purchased on Amazon.com or through the DIY Backyard Farm website (www.diybackyardfarm.com).

Planning My Plot

Weekends are for dreaming. What better time to think up big, magnificent ideas. The mind is most creative when the clutter of the weekdays are in the past. Today I was given a question that set my creative juices in motion.”What if I were given a plot of land and the financial resources to do anything I want with it?

Wait a minute! This is something many of us dream about. Some folks would build a mega mansion. More civic-minded people might build a playground or park. A dog lover would likely think up new ways to save all the stray dogs in the world.

I am an advocate of living of the land. As such, I have often dreamed of building a housing development in the style of New Urbanism. My development would be designed with sustainability in mind. My version of sustainability would go beyond the stuff of LEED certifications and extend into a true self-sustaining mini economy.

Housing would be a mixture of farmsteads and more densely populated clusters of single and attached homes. The main feature of the development would be a large community farm created to provide the majority of the foods needed to nourish the residents. Chickens, cows, pigs, lambs and other animals would be humanly raised alongside an impressive array of freshly grown produce. We would eat seasonally and hyper local while enjoying the security of knowing where our foods came from.

Jobs would be created within the development and also my leveraging technology (think telecommuting). Products we made from our farm or creations of local artisans would be sold within a 100 mile radius of our location. Our mini economy would be the envy of the world. So much so that copycats would spring up like yogurt franchises in suburban America. However, our “franchise” would be a whole lot better for the people and the planet!

Cooking Magic for Kids Tip 4 – at the Community Garden

DIY Backyard Farmer:

I could not agree more with the community garden as classroom concept!

Originally posted on Cooking Magic for Kids:

Here’s a tip from Cooking Magic for Kids: Local Community Gardens are outdoor classrooms where kids can experience the miracle of life by planting their own garden, getting advice from other gardeners, developing healthy eating habits, and giving kids a sense of responsibility and pride.

View original

DIY Backyard Farm Recommended Gardening Blogs – January 2015 Edition

In the coming months our readers will see posts like this one to help get all of us edible gardeners through winter. Fear not, there are some great gardening activities to do now. Augment those cold weather gardening duties with some inspiration from some of these great websites and/or blogs!

* Not all of these blogs focus solely on edible gardening.

Kitchen Gardeners International – I find this site to be a real ray of sunlight. Lots of learning resources complimented by stories about the powers of growing your own, helping communities and more. Check it out!

GRIT – GRIT is a great print magazine with the tagline, “rural American know-how”. Their website is chock full of interesting articles, ideas, and tips. They even have a reader’s blog section for people like me who love to share information! Find the DIY Backyard Farm GRIT blog here. Not all of their articles are related to edible gardening, but the site is still a treasure trove of helpful reading.

Back To My Garden – Read along or listen to the podcasts. Dave is a gentleman gardener indeed. His style is very welcoming and Dave always seems to “dig up” great information.

Shortcut Your Way to Gardening Greatness

Those of you who read this blog or have read my book know I constantly pound the drum to plan your garden and keep things simple. Those two rules are the main keys to my edible gardening success. As such, I am a huge fan of shortcuts that save time without sacrificing results. In an effort to create and/or share valuable information for my readers, I had been thinking about coming up with a list of gardening shortcuts to post on this site. Magically such a list popped into my email inbox last night!

A greater gardening mind than mine was thinking the very same thing. Dave Ledoux from Back To My Garden sent me a link to his 99 Remarkably Clever Gardening Shortcuts. What timing!

Dave’s list is the product of 30 hours of research and writing. Nice work Dave!

We get to enjoy the “fruits” of Dave’s labor with little more than some time invested reading. I suggest bookmarking his list for future reference. Not all of the tips are edible gardening related. However, there are enough interesting ideas to satisfy many types of gardeners.

I already plan to use shortcut #88 because we have a root bound citrus tree of our own that needs a new home to lay down some roots. Shortcut #1 will be critical to my edible garden planning right now. We are growing potatoes in 2015, but I refuse to give up too much space to them. #1 may be the answer to my potato space-saving challenge!

Why are you still reading my post? Get clicking over to Dave’s 99 Remarkably Clever Gardening Shortcuts! Share it with your gardening friends too!

Plan your garden, garden your plan…

What You Can Do Now to Satisfy Your Gardening “Bug”

2015/01/img_1717.jpg

I have been spending a lot of time thinking (and blogging) about ways to keep my gardening interests alive in this cold, “Arctic” winter. It is kind of like watering the dormant fig tree I keep in the garage during the winter. The picture above is a sure sign desperation has set in. I bought tomatoes from the store! Yes, they were from sunny Florida. No, they did not taste anything like what we grow here on the DIY Backyard Farm.

I took this as a warning sign that I needed to do something garden related ASAP. As a result, I broke out my SeedKeeper and did a seed inventory. The family is close to having our 2015 seed needs finalized, but I want to avoid ordering seeds we already have. I am amazed how quickly I forgot what seeds we had left!

The Seed Keeper,Seeds

My next step was to pot some additonal herb plants for the indoors. A small task, but it feels good to see living green things clamoring for the thin rays of sunlight that penetrate our cold winter air like hot knives through freshly churned butter.

herbs

Ah, I am feeling a bit better now. Seeds are organized, herbs are ready for culinary action and the last of those store bought tomatoes are now gone.

What are you doing to stay “garden sane” this winter?

Gardening Activities to Do With Your Children in Winter

Kale,tent

Kale Tent

It’s January and in much of the county it is cold. Too cold to grow most fruits, vegetables and herbs. The next 2-3 months can be really dull and difficult for many edible gardeners. Having young children at home can make wintertime cabin fever more difficult. What can one do to inspire their inner edible gardener while keeping the kids entertained? Easy, plan next season’s edible garden! Just be sure to include the kids.

Recently I posted about fighting back against winter’s dreary grip. It contains a recommendation to browse seed catalogs as one way to brighten up otherwise dull, grey days. Why not invite the kids along to thumb through the seed catalogs with you? After all, seed catalogs are usually filled with wonderfully colorful images of amszing produce!

Winter months are some really tough times for parents, especially those with younger children. The holidays are over and parents have exhausted all the usual options. It just so happens these are the months when seed catalogs arrive in the mail. I call them colorful messengers of joy! Plus, seed catalogs remind us all that spring will in fact come again one day. So, break out the seed catalogs and start dreaming about the growing season to come!

Over the past couple of years we have made seed selecting and edible garden planning family activities. It is so much fun and very interesting to watch the children’s’ eyes light up as they see images of beautiful and often unique fruits, vegetables and herbs. Selecting seeds and garden planning do not have to be quick activities either. It usually takes us a few sit downs before we get our seed orders and edible garden plans just right.

Here is how to do it:

1) Have a bunch of small pieces of paper and some tape handy to allow each person to bookmark their seed pages of interest and write down their thoughts on particular seeds.

2) Place all your seed catalogs around a table and let each person take one. Some catalogs are more visual than others. Be sure the kids get the most visual ones. If they are old enough to read then encourage them to learn about the seeds. Take time to read to them if the reading is too advanced. You will likely learn something as well!

3) Begin to develop a garden plan once most of the seeds have been selected. This step is best done at a different seating. It is nice to sleep on seed buying decisions before investing time to plan a garden or order seeds. Plus, the kids will not want to do marathon garden planning sessions!

4) Sketch out edible garden beds on graph paper or use the garden planning worksheets in the back of my edible garden planning guide book. Does your seed selection make sense now that it is on paper? Remember, less is often more when it comes to edible gardening. Also be sure the edible plant selections will grow well in your location (consider variables like climate, sun exposure, watering needs and companion planting).

Let kids get creative (example in the picture below) by allowing them to use colored pencils or crayons to draw the edible plants they want to grow. I bet they surprise you with how well they can draw carrots, strawberries and other tasty produce. Be sure to help them understand how many of each plant can grow in a specified area. If you do not have this information then check the plant descriptions in seed catalogs.

5) Once you are satisfied with your seed selection and checked that plants will do well in your garden it is time to order or buy seeds from your local garden center. I buy some seeds from local garden centers, swap seeds with gardening friends and order from a few catalog retailers. Click here for a list of mail order seed suppliers.

When the seeds arrive you can keep the kids engaged by reviewing each seed packet with them. Remember to keep it simple and do not try to become expert on too many plant types at once. You and your children will benefit more from growing a few plants and knowing a lot about each one.

I find the process of seed selection and garden planning is helpful for getting through the winter. Before long it will be time to start seeds under grow lights or plant the first seeds of the season in your garden soils!