Save money by Table Top Gardening.
When I saw this week's Inspiration Topic, I have to admit this made me very excited. After all this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I am all about saving the money, using less and hopefully help making the world a little greener and less cluttered.
With that being said I realized that I have written and shared a lot of the measures that I have adopted or grew up just doing as a part of a frugal lifestyle. Cleaning with peroxide, hanging my clothes out to dry, getting rid of dryer sheets, using wood and wood pellets to heat my home, and getting rid of paper towels. So I took a look around to see if I was doing anything new to contribute to this arena. That is when I decided to share with you my newest "frugal adventure", table top gardening.
I love the idea of having a big glorious vegetable garden, just like my Grammie in Maine had her whole life. I love the organic farm my best friend's family operates in Maine and often have farm envy. But, I confess I don't have the attention span, time or the soil to have my own full size garden. I am a self proclaimed "Veggie Moocher". If you have extra fresh veggies in the summer I will be there, if there is a pick your own farm anywhere near me,my kids and I will be there with baskets in hand. I loathe commercial canned veggies, and love fresh organic produce. But, this isn't always a practical or frugal operating plan.
It was when my father gifted me with a table top tea garden that I realized that this type gardening had tons of potential. The kit my father gave me for Christmas included chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm seeds. These are some of my favorite teas. And when these plants grow I will have an almost limitless supply of fresh tea. The frugal, advantage to having this little table top tea garden is that I will save around $3.00 a box on tea. Since, I won't have to purchase tea from a store. These little plants can also be placed outside in larger containers or in a traditional garden setting which will produce even more tea for you to consume.
Once I planted my tea garden I got to thinking what else can I grow inside in small planters, to help cut down my produce bill. The next plant I tried was Jacob Cattle Beans. I took four of my dried beans and wrapped them in some damp toilet paper and placed them in a sealed sandwich bag. I taped this bag to a window and in a couple of days I had bean sprouts. My kids and I carefully planted the sprouts inside an aluminum lasagne pan and set them on my kitchen table. Within a couple of days, I had four bean plants. Within a couple of weeks I had blossoms. Before I knew it, the blossoms dropped off and I had a few little beans hanging from my plants. Granted, I haven't gotten a bumper crop of Jacob Cattle Beans, as this started as a science experiment but I am anxious to re-plant more beans in a deeper container for a much bigger yield. These beans once grown can be dried and stored in air tight containers for future use. By growing my own beans I will save around $2.00 a pound.
I have realized that you can grow just about anything inside a container. In addition to my beans I plan to grow spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers, and lavender using this method. One, thing that is crucial to remember is pot size. For beans, and tomatoes you may want to use a deeper flower pot or even a really big coffee can with holes or gravel in the bottom for drainage. For strawberries or even cucumbers you can use hanging pots and let them dangle. If you don't want to hang your plants you can always build small trellises for the plant to climb up out of cheap chopsticks or craft sticks. If you are like me and not that crafty you can always use the chopsticks or craft sticks as garden stakes and tie your climbing plants to them for support.
Another, great benefit to this type of gardening is that it is not only great for those of us with gardeners anxiety, but seniors, apartment dwellers, and people who have limited space. You can often times combine several types of plants in one container. For example, you can grow spinach and several types of lettuce together. Herbs like chamomile, peppermint, and lavender together as long as your container is big and deep enough.
As for containers, you can use just about anything you have around your house. For my beans I plan to use an old aquarium that housed hermit crabs. It provides the depth and length that I need to plant quite a few beans but doesn't take up a ton of space on my table. You can use old buckets, pots, anything that can hold water and dirt. Just make sure that you either put some gravel in the bottom of the pots or drill some holes for drainage.
Although I am new to table top gardening I have realized that in addition to greatly stretching my grocery budget, it is a fun activity to share with my kids. We can decide what we want to plant, sprout the plants, play with the dirt, decorate containers and then watch them grow. They are also learning the value of where our food comes from, how plants grow, how to live a greener lifestyle, and how to be frugal. So, be creative when table top gardening and remember if you have a flat surface, sunshine, and a container you can have a garden inside.