What is the answer to the problem of rising costs, crappy tomatoes at the grocery store and a desire to eat affordable local oraganic produce? Grow a Victory Garden!
Today I got a washbucket - what do you call it, one of those metal wash tubs - a bag of Black Cow composted manure and a bag of Granny's Soil, a Patio tomato plant and a small lettuce. And a hanging basket of mint for outside my window.
I'm not really cooking much right now, but with a tomato and some lettuce you can at least have an easy salad or tomato sandwich. If I wanted to spend a little extra money I would get the Earth Box - which is a really cool system that makes it easier to grow herbs and vegetables. My Dad and his wife got one and they have more lettuce than they know what to do with. Which brings me to Plant a Row for the Hungry. Its a neat concept where gardeners are asked to plant an extra row of vegetables in their garden to donate to soup kitchens or food banks. At my last job we had a bunch of extra citrus from a decorating job. One of the ladies donated the extra to a soup kitchen and they were really happy to get the fresh fruit. I guess most of what they have is canned. In Florida people often have the problem of what to do with so much fruit growing in their trees, and I think this is a good solution.
Did I mention how easy the Earth Box is? I love it because you don't have to fertilize or water as often or weed and its raised... My thought is that if it was easier more people would do it. Yes, its expensive (we sell them for $59) but your going to save money growing your own produce and and it will certainly last a few years. You would definitely get a lot of use from them - or any vegetable garden - in Florida with our multiple growing seasons. I'm not sure how many we have but I know you can grow tomatoes in the spring and fall, I think eggplant and okra (and more) in the summer and lettuce and celery in the winter (among others). The only thing its hard to do all year here are herbs.
Even if you only have a small amount of space, its fun to grow at least a tomato and some basil or parsley (its so expensive to buy herbs from the grocery store). And, I think growing your own vegetables is a great way to involve kids in gardening and get them more likely to eat vegetables.
Let me know if your growing anything!
Oh, and another cool thing about growing your own - you can find some really neat varieties that would cost less than they do at the store. A friend of mine grew some really cool yellow tomatoes the other year and I think thats the first time I had yellow tomatoes. Unusual and heirloom varieties are usually more expensive at the grocery store. You might have to start heirloom varieties from seed, and it might be harder to find them, but its still cheaper and lots of fun.