Frugal Living: The Edible Yard
Eating Your Yard:
One of the most beautiful ways to save money and live more frugally is to create edible landscaping in your yard. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. No matter how large or small of an area you’re dealing with, there is a solution that is right for you. From common household plants to terrific shade trees, filling your yard with fruits and vegetables saves money you would otherwise be spending at the grocery store. Why not save some green by planting a little green instead?
Dig a Little Deeper
The world is divided up into different growing zones. These zones allow you to determine which produce will do well in the area you live in. It also lets you know when it is safe to start planting or placing your plants outdoors.
Along with knowing what growing zone you live it, each region has wild, native edibles you can enjoy. Buying books on local, edible, wild plants or going to the library to check one out is a great way to enhance your yard with beautiful and tasty vegetation.
For example: Acorns can be turned into flour or roasted and ground to serve as a coffee substitute. There are different types of oak trees, so investigating which type you have and the specific ways to harvest and prepare the different types of acorns in your area has tremendous value and potential.
I have personally made both acorn flour and acorn coffee. They are both delicious! Replacing 1/4 cup of white flour with acorn flour in a pancake recipe makes hearty, nutty, filling, fantastic pancakes unlike any other you have ever tasted. If you're lucky enough to have maple trees in your area, you could even make your own pure maple syrup to top them.
Mixing 1/2 acorn grounds and 1/2 coffee grounds produces a flavor very similar to hazelnut flavored coffee without the artificial additives.
Depending on the variety you purchase, a good apple tree will produce upwards of 500 fruits in a single season! Shopping around at the local green-houses last year the average price for an apple tree ran between $15 and $20 each. It’s important to get two different kinds of apple trees for cross-pollination. When working with a small yard or small budget that’s a $40 investment in your apples. Now let’s look at the benefits of that investment:
• Within 3 years your trees will be mature enough to produce their “mother-load” of harvestable fruits. Two trees will produce around 1,000 apples per season. The stores around here charge an average of $5 per bag containing around a dozen apples (depending on size and type). Do the math: 1,000 apples = 83 dozen (plus a few). 83 dozen store bought bags = $415 (and you only spent $40!) Better still, you’re going to be producing that each year!
• Your apple trees will provide shade to your yard in the hot months and wind block during the colder months. They produce richer soil, house wildlife, and invite pollinating insects into your yard to further assist with any other flowering plants you may have in your garden!
What can you do with ALL of those apples?
- Apple pie
- Apple cobbler or Apple crisp
- Apple butter
- Caramel Apples
- Apple sauce
- Apple cider or Apple juice
- Eat them as is!
You can always take extras to the farmer's market or offer them to friends & family too.
Core, cut, and peal your apples in advance; they freeze quite well for use throughout the winter, spring, and summer while you're waiting for your next harvest!
Blueberry bushes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, from the large yard variety to smaller dwarf bushes perfect for setting on a deck or patio. No matter how much or little space you have, rest assured there is a blueberry bush for you.
These great little bite-sized snacks are packed with antioxidants and nutrition. They add a splash of color to your yard as well as providing delectable berries. Depending on the variety you go with, some blueberry bushes are known for producing up to 10 pounds of berries each! That's a lot of berries. Again, a single harvest will pay for its self ten fold in no time. Saving you money as well as giving your family a healthier food source.
When space is an issue, consider purchasing a dwarf plant! Tomatoes come in a wide variety so there is always at least one type perfect for your yard or window. There is just no comparing the flavor of a home grown tomato to that of a store-bought one.
Tomatoes are one of the most commonly used vegetables in any kitchen, which is why having your own tomato plants can save you a ton of money! Whether you choose Cherry, Roma, Big Boys, or any of the other hundreds of choices out there; there is always call for tomatoes!
- Soups, stews, & sauces
- Sliced fresh atop burgers or in sandwiches
- eaten raw as a fresh snack with a dash of salt or sugar
- Salad toppers
Can or jar your extra tomatoes to give as gifts or store for your plants "off" season.
Herb Box Garden:
Decorate your yard with greens you can use in cooking! Herbs look beautiful and taste great. They grow well in pots or in the ground, so space isn't an issue for these helpful edibles.
and more.... Fresh herbs in cooking ads a truly divine flavor. However, if you don't typically cook with fresh ingredients to use up your supply; hanging and drying herbs for long term storage works too!
Herbs can be grown all year in an indoor planter, so you can keep your cooking budget down by adding these green delights to your interior decor during colder months when fresh herbs aren't available at the grocers (or when they cost more because they are out of season).
Place some rows of delicious lettuce by your porch, patio, or along the house. For smaller spaces, they do great in containers as well! Leafy greens give you a delightful, rich addition to your landscaping while tasting great too.
- Leaf lettuce (red or green)
Sprinkle your seeds and watch your landscaping take off in a glorious, edible bounty of color and flavor!
So much more:
You don't need a traditional garden to have fresh fruits, vegetables, berries, or nuts to enjoy. Before you plan your landscaping for the season, do your homework. There are many flowering plants which produce edible fruit as well as having edible leaves. Incorporate as many edible foods around your yard as possible to cut down on your grocery budget while increasing the beauty of your yard.
Even dandelions are edible! When they first start to sprout and their leaves are small is the best time to pick their leaves to add a sharp tang to your spring salads. Roasted dandelion root tea not only tastes good, it is good for you! There are so many health benefits to consuming this wonderful plant that most people consider to be a bothersome weed.
You can create a veritable cornucopia of produce in your own yard. Being frugal never looked (or tasted) so good.