A Weeklong Series About Landscaping, Gardening, and Money

Yesterday, I talked about some inexpensive and perennial ornamental plants to boost your home value. You can also, however, use some more functional plants to grow your own food, even if (like me) you've killed an aloe plant.

Growing food has been a way to engage students and rehabilitate prisoners, not that those two are related… what I'm saying is that growing food is clearly something good for the emotional and physical health of a person big or small. (For way more about the social/societal benefits of growing your own food, check out the book Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet, which is a great read.) Frugal Dad had a great post recently tying in lessons learned gardening with lessons to be learned in personal finance. There are clearly mental, social, and emotional benefits from the act of growing food.

And to look food growth purely as an investment, I'm betting that gardening is going to get really popular this year because of rising food prices. Growing your own food could be great way to save money and eat healthy (not to mention a way to use up some of those empty flowerbeds I have).

The resource you will most heavily invest in any food growth is your time. (Seeds aren't expensive and neither are bags of soil if you look around….some people may even be giving it away for free). Get Rich Slowly has carefully chronicled the time him and his wife spend gardening (as well as the money on supplies) and will be over the course of the next year.

So what is a tentative gardener like me who wants to save money at the grocery store and increase curb appeal to do? I need successful plants to boost my ego and to grow food at a small enough scale to be able to maintain the garden. I picked Sean's brain at breakfast this morning as he was a gardener in a former life. Here was, almost word for word, our conversation:

What's the easiest thing to grow? Tomatoes.

Why? Because all you have to do is plant them and water them. Not a lot of things attack them.

What else? Jerusalem artichokes.

Why? Because they are a root. They have the added benefit of coming back every year.

Oh, so potatoes would work too? Yup. I have to go to work now.

So as a new person to gardening, I'm going to do these easy plants and a little herb garden, which is what I had moderate success with last year (I love rosemary and basil!). And boy, will I have some good beds! Any other recommendations from real gardeners out to someone like me who is clueless and slightly lazy about living things that can't whine for food?

If you need some more scientific factors to keep in mind, check out this short article "Planning Your Garden" from WSCH6.

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