The weather here has been almost "spring like" the last few days, and I have to say, it has gotten my gardening juices flowing! I even went so far as to buy a few seed packets at CAL Ranch on Saturday.
I'm itchy to go start tilling up my garden, but I'm sure that if I do, it will snow three feet the next day! It's not to early to start tomato, pepper, and herb seeds indoors, though. I discovered several years ago that starting your own seeds is much cheaper than buying the plants at the nursery, and in some cases they actually were heartier than the commercial plants. I am hoping to start mine later this week, and I will also be posting how to do it. Growing some of your own veggies is a great way to save on your food budget. Anyone can do it, and you don't have to grow a half acre garden, either. Which brings me to my next thought ( and the Tightwad Mom's Book Pick for March).
The square foot gardening method is a great way to get a lot of (manageable) produce in a limited space. A couple years ago when gas prices soared, crops were failing, and food prices were on the rise I had a little freak out ( okay, a huge, breathe into a paper bag because you are hyperventilating freakout). I had no idea how I was going to afford to put gas into two gas guzzlers, and put food into six (seven if you count the dog) hungry tummies on our budget. I needed to increase the amount of produce that I could grow in my limited garden space. I also wanted to add to my food storage in the basement without breaking the bank.I checked " Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholemew out of our local library, and it was an answer to my prayers. With a little tweaking to his method ( I used black ground cover around my tomato and squash plants because I am NOT a fan of weeding. I also used good old fashion manure for fertilizer. I could get that for free from the local pet store that also has a petting zoo. All I had to do was come and get it). I was able to produce enough veggies to feed my family, the neighbor's family, and can 75 pints of green beans, 24 pints of beets, 40 pints of carrots, 12 pints of yellow squash, 24 1/2 pints of jalapeno peppers, and 48 quarts of tomatoes. I froze 2 gallons freezer bags full of chopped green peppers, 36 quart freezer bags of banana squash (don't tell your kids, but you can use any pureed winter squash in place of pureed pumpkin in any recipe that calls for it, including pumpkin pie. You can't tell the difference!),20 quart freezer bags of shredded zucchini, and 18 quart freeze bags of brocolli. Not bad, considering my garden space is maybe 200 sq. ft. The beauty of this method is that you can plant vegetables in 5 gallon buckets (tomatoes, and peppers), in flower beds, along fences (cucumbers, green beans, and peas), or in raised beds (he explains how to build raised beds in his book). You can start out small or on a grand scale. He also has a website that is very informative (the book does explain some things in more detail.)
It has been kind of fun for my kids to watch their dinner grow. My experiment was such a success that last year I planted eight blueberry bushes (unfortunately, I have since been told that Idaho's soil stinks for growing blueberries, so I'm afraid this project may be doomed), and dug out an old flower bed where I planted strawberry starts ( that I bummed off of a friend for free). So start watching the sales ads for seeds (here are a couple links if you would rather order online Henry Fields, Burpee, Abundant Life Seeds . Spring is on its way!