Blue gnome in the garden

Growing food to save money: 3 foods that novice farmers can start growing now

Growing food is like printing your own money,” says Ron Finley, a guerrilla-gardener  in South Central L.A. who plants vegetable gardens in traffic medians and abandoned lots.

Inspired by Ron and other gardeners like him years ago, I got excited about growing my own food. I threw a packet of kale seeds into a small planter, watered them and wished them luck. After a few months spindly green shoots that didn’t look anything like the kale I saw in grocery stores were visible. I put my spade down and mentally calculated the cost of the planter, spade, soil and seeds and figured that tiny kale salad cost about $40.

What I didn’t know then was that learning to grow food is a process. And it’s best to start small. But anyone can grow food, no matter how many plants you’ve killed or whether you live in a basement suite, apartment, townhouse or house. Here are three foods that novice growers anywhere can start growing now:

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Grow sprouts: These nutritional powerhouses can be easily grown in a windowsill with moderate light in a mason jar. For detailed growing instructions for sprouts, check out West Coast Seeds.

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Grow herbs: Although expensive to buy in stores they are easy to grow and they elevate the most simple meals with a sprinkle of chopped herbs. The perfect project for a fledgling grower—you can buy a pre-assembled herb planter or start with seedlings and plant in your own pot. Chives, mint, thyme and rosemary are low maintenance perennials. Tuck in some basil and cilantro for seasonal variety.

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Grow salads in salad containers: Get yourself a small bag of potting mix, a packet of mixed salad green seeds and away you go. Using a plastic salad container, poke holes in the bottom of the container for drainage. Place this into the lid of the container to catch water. Layer the bottom with wet potting mix and sprinkle with some seeds (about 1/4 packet), another thin layer of potting mix and lightly water every few days. In a few weeks you will have a salad’s worth of greens. Start a new one every week so you have a homegrown salad every week.

Each time you eat something you’ve grown it’s not only satisfying, but feels like you’ve grown savings, too.

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