Save Gas, Plant Vegetables

Jim Long
Ozarks Gardening column, week of 3-31-08
Save Gas, Grow Vegetables!

Rising gas prices combined with increased food costs and a fluctuating economy are the likely causes of a significant new trend developing in the gardening market. As reported in the 2008 Early Spring Gardening Trends Research Report just released by the Garden Writers Association, more consumers plan to purchase vegetable and fruit plants as part of their early spring gardening purchases.

In a national survey conducted last month, consumers were asked what types of garden-related purchases they expect to make for spring. Lawn and grass purchases take the lead (54%), followed by vegetable or fruit plants (39%), annual flowers (38%), trees and shrubs (35%), and perennial flowers (31%). When asked the same question this time last year, vegetable and fruit plants were fourth on the list of priorities for consumer spending. Perennial flowers which held the number two position in consumer spending in 2007 are in fifth place for 2008.

This means lots of people recognize running to the grocery store for a pound of potatoes or a couple of tomatoes, doesn’t make good sense when gas prices hover in the three dollar range. Driving a few blocks, or a few miles, just because you need a cucumber and a head of lettuce for dinner can easily be delayed if you have those growing on your patio or in your back yard. Saving a trip to the store means saving on gas money.

How much does it cost to grow your own tomatoes? Just a few dollars if you buy the plants, even less if you start your own seed. For less than $2, you can buy a packet of bean seed and produce enough beans to feed your family for several meals. Add some inexpensive lettuce seed, a few onion plants, a few rows of corn and a few other vegetables and you can grow several weeks of groceries for less than the cost of a tank of gas.

Even though it is too early to plant annual, tender plants, such as peppers and tomatoes outdoors in the garden, it is a perfect time for planting these seed crops: Lettuce, late onions, spinach, carrots, radishes marigold seed, cilantro and dill and a second planting of peas can go in the ground now. Plants such as cabbage, kale, kohlrabi and rosemary, can all be planted now, as well. Home grown vegetables taste better, save you money on gas and make you glad you grew them.

To see what’s growing in my garden this week, visit my blog: http://jimlongsgardentalk.blogspot.com/ Questions and comments always welcome at longcreekherbs@yahoo.com. Happy gardening!