As the price of fresh, unprocessed food continues to rise, you’re probably looking for ways to stretch your grocery money. One way to save is to grow some of the fruits and vegetables you love. A small garden can provide fresh food for your family and save you hundreds of dollars each year.

If you’ve got a sunny spot in your yard and are willing to put a little muscle into the project, you can grow your own produce. A sunny balcony will also work since a variety of plants grow well in pots and planting boxes.

Let’s break down the cost of starting your own food garden. Seedlings are about $4.00 each. Garden soil costs about $5/cubic foot and plant food is about $10 for a 6 lb. bag.

Say you plant just one tomato plant. You’ll pay about $7 for the materials and yield at least 15 lbs. of tomatoes from one plant during the planting season. If you bought 15 lbs. of tomatoes at a grocery, you’d pay about $2.50/lb., for a total of $38. That’s a savings of $31.

Lettuce is another easy vegetable to grow. A 10 oz. bag in the grocery will cost about $2.50. If you purchase 20 bags during the growing season, you’ll spend $50. If you grow your lettuce, not only will you be able to pick it fresh from your garden, but you’ll save about $43.

Raspberries are a great fruit to grow. They require full sun and a little patience – most varieties won’t begin producing fruit until their second year – but the payoff is worth it. It’s a perennial and very prolific, so if you begin with one plant, expect to see at least 5 more plants each year. At a grocery, you’ll pay $5.00 for just a 6 oz. pack of organic raspberries. With your own berry garden, you’ll have pounds of organic fruit that can be eaten fresh off the cane, turned into jam, or canned for the entire year.

If you’re a beginner gardener, start with a small garden to get used to the work. Plant one or two of each variety and see how you manage with the harvest. If you think you can handle more, plant more next season.

Growing your own vegetable and fruit garden is a fantastic way get healthy, organic food at a fraction of the cost of buying it at a store.

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