Lettuce and Peas and Carrots, Oh My!
Posted by Kara | Filed under Kara
I wouldn’t hazard to call myself a health guru and I wouldn’t even go so far as to say we eat a wholesome diet all of the time, but I would insist that I do my very best. We try very hard to follow Health Canada recommendations for types and amounts of food and we also try to “Eat Clean” as the new fads suggest. Either way, we eat A LOT of vegetables, fruit and legumes. In a way this works out well given we are attempting to pay off debts because meat is WAY more expensive than cooking with legumes and veggies. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, price it out!
I can make a great chili for about $10 using several different types of beans and it’s loaded with veggies, protein and fiber. My kids and my hubby love it, I feel good about serving it and we usually get two dinners and a number of lunches out of it. If I made it with meat it would cost closer to $25, which is still not out of the park when you’re trying to be economical, but every penny counts and if I can do it cheaper without compromising our health, I will!
So over the last year, hubby and I tossed around the idea of putting in a vegetable garden. I thought right away that we would be in for way too much work and we’d end up with a kitchen full of tomatoes we couldn’t possibly use up. But I headed for the all faithful internet to check out what I could find regarding urban veggie gardening and I came across this really neat concept called Square Foot Gardening. Everything I read indicated that this is the most low maintenance type of urban gardening that would also bring in a fairly large yield. It also allows for a surprisingly large variety of veggies, herbs and flowers.
So we juggled some budget numbers (responsibly), saved up and when we had enough money we built a raised, 4X4 foot box, filled it with the right soil mixture and started planting. Do I sound like a farmer already or what?! In the spring we planted sugar snap peas, carrots, heirloom rainbow carrots, broccoli, spinach, parsnips and onions. Thanks to this crop we ate spinach in some form or another every day for over 3 weeks! We had frittatas, salads, omelets, quiche, we put it on sandwiches and I wrapped up egg salad in the leaves. I priced out what it would have cost to buy that much and I saved around $40.
For the summer we planted tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, green and yellow beans, cucumber, pickling cukes, sweet peppers, hot peppers and a variety of lettuces. I will also make some tomato sauce, salsa, pickles, pickled peppers, chutney, pickled zucchini, etc to supplement our winter meals.
We are on our second round of summer crops and patiently await fresh lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. I have also planted some of the fall seeds so we can enjoy frost hearty veggies until the ground freezes. My neighbours look at me with odd expressions as I circle the garden with my nose inches away from the dirt, inspecting the new sprouts.
If you are interested in taking the plunge into urban gardening, I found a wealth of information on the following websites; www.squarefootgardening.org , www.mysquarefootgarden.net , and www.canadiangardening.com . I also found helpful information at my local gardening network, www.hcgn.ca and there are many networks and community gardens all over the country so check them out! If you decide to join me in this venture, let me know how you fair.
Happy frugal living, Kara