Central Illinois faced one of the worst winters it has seen in around 30 years. I was amused by individuals who treated it as though Mother Nature had a personal vendetta out against them. This type of winter is what I remember about being a kid living out in the middle of nowhere. It was often too dangerous to go anywhere and we were frequently snowed in due to the snow blowing over the flat plains. Keeping the fire going in the fireplace (our primary source of heat) was paramount and if the electricity went out-it wasn't really that big of a deal.
With this in mind-now that I live in town I don't gamble with mother nature and often go to the store prior to any indication of poor weather. There are people who make fun of those who feel the need to stock-up on groceries prior to snow-fall, but not I. Protecting oneself by being a little extra cautious in severe weather-is just a form of preparedness Im willing to take. This winter the schools called approx 6 snow days due to excessive snow and Arctic temps, we must not be too liberal with our own safety.
At the beginning of February, Levi and I made the decision that I was to leave traditional employment and pursue the lifestyle and occupational goals I have always dreamed of-working for myself, my family and becoming a yoga instructor. Part of this dream included being more active in the garden my mother and I put together so we are able to put-up enough food to feed our families over the winter months.
Gardening is quite fashionable now as 'buy local' and 'eat organic' consume our conscious as we move our
But why should I throw or give the food away? When cans of tomatoes are going for over $1/each and I use at least 2 cans/week-I can justify spending a day or two a year canning tomatoes to last through the following year.
Here are a few ways I save money with gardening:
- Green bell peppers are going for about $1/each on average. In one day, I can cut and freeze enough to last me a year. I suspect I use at least 1 pepper/week. Savings: $52+/year.
- I can turn a single flat of strawberries into a years worth of jam-and since I use jam a few times a week, this is very cost effective. I also give jam as hostess gifts. One afternoon of work saves me anywhere from $50-100/year.
- Zucchini is a fabulous item to freeze and add to fritattas, quiche, stirfrys, or just saute and eat as a side dish. The last time I was in the store, small zucchini were $2/each! Freezing zucchini for the winter and making relish probably saves me $100/year if used once a week.
- Pickled beets are one of my favorite snacks. Beets themselves are pretty forgiving late in the season, and have a pretty flexible harvest schedule-just as long as the deer don't beet (haha!) you too them! Typically, one years harvest of beets will last both my parents and I well over a year. Irregardless of the health benefits of adding beets to your diet-snacking on something homegrown and homemade is saving one from a considerable amount of additives and calories. I probably go through a jar of beets a week, it takes Mom and I a full day to do beets. Estimated savings: over $100/year.
- Green beans and sweet corn are two items that are less forgiving when its time to harvest them. If you don't pick them right away, they will be quickly consumed by a less patient animal. Both are fairly easy to can or freeze and make a popular side dish at dinner. I often toss green beans and corn into soups and casseroles too. I estimate putting-up these save me about $200/year.
I could keep going on, about tomatoes, jalapenoes, cabbage, berries, but I think you're getting the point.
This year, my intention is to have enough tomatoes, green peppers, strawberry jam, zucchini, pickled beets and green beans to last me through the following year.
Please share in the comments below your intentions for your garden this year!