I know money may be a little tight for some people out there. It’s difficult getting by with gas prices as high as they are. One gallon of gasoline costs upwards of $4.00 in some places of the country. It’s tough to live comfortably when food prices are sky-rocketing. A gallon of milk is as high as $5.00 in some grocery stores. But I am here to say that you have options. Not only can you eat cheaply by growing your own garden, but you can also make your own money doing it. Listed below are ways to harvest and cultivate your own fruit or vegetable garden. Then, at the very bottom, you can find plenty of ways to use the produce you grow to bring in some extra cash.
Fun facts: Tucson, Arizona had a man who had peddled produce for over 44 years. They called him the “Vegetable Man”.
Extract and preserve the seeds
You must make sure your fruit or vegetable has ripened before you start cultivating your seeds. The seeds will not do anything if they have not been pollinated. This is why certain pollinating insects like bees are vital for your garden. The only fruits and vegetables that can self-pollinate are tomatoes, peppers, and the eggplant.
Unique truth: Pieces of corn seed from your local feed store can be planted for effective reproduction.
Take a few of your fruits and vegetables, cut them open carefully, and take out the seeds. Keep seeds separated by name of the fruit or vegetable. Rinse the seeds off thoroughly in room temperature water. Lay the seeds out on a paper towel, and wait. When the seeds and paper towel are dry, it’s time to store them. Fold the paper towel up with the seeds in the center. Stick this homemade seed packet inside of a clean glass jar, and twist the lid on tight. Label each jar with the name of the fruit or vegetable stored. Don’t forget to keep the jar full of seeds in a dark and dry place. If these seeds are exposed to a lot of UV light or get wet during the winter, they won’t be any good by planting time.
Cute and interesting note: You can take a styrofoam egg carton, and fill each egg compartment full of good, healthy soil to create an incubator for your dried seeds.
When spring is drawing near, take the container full of good soil, plant the seeds in the center (1/2 inch down), and cover the seed. Make sure to aide in the incubation process by adding light fertilizer. Anything stronger will burn the seed. Keep soaking every incubator compartment with water, and keep the entire egg carton in the sunlight until you see a sprout. After the baby has popped its head out from the soil, poke small holes in the bottom of every incubation compartment. Set the bottom half of the egg carton in the top half of the egg carton. Then return your incubation carton to its place under the sun.
Vital note: Do not leave them outside in the sun. Keep your growing sprouts under a window in your house where it will see the most sunlight.
If the sprout has grown too big for its incubation container, it’s a good time to start planting. At the beginning of spring would also be a great time to transfer your sprouts to the patch of dirt you’ve already dug out for them to grow.
Tips for cultivating certain fruit and vegetable seeds
Tomatoes: You can actually store the tomato seed in a dry freezer. They may be good for up to 50 years if stored properly. Simply cut the tomato in half. and squeeze everything out into a bowl. From this point, it should be pretty easy to watch them off.
Potatoes: You can grow potato seeds just like those in tomatoes. The process of harvesting the seeds of a potato is a lot different than that of any others. They can grow on the plant itself. All you’ve got to do is squeeze them off into a bowl full of water, and clean them off. Before planting, they should be kept in warmth and light. Just before putting them in the ground, slice the seeds into around 1/2 inch squares. Each of these squares needs to have 1 to 2 buds sprouting already.
Cucumbers: Wait until the cucumber has turned orange or yellow to remove the seeds. That’s when you know for sure it’s ripe. Sometimes, you might need to let the seeds forment for approximately 3 to 4 days. To do this, just let everything from the seeds to the pulp around them sit in a warm spot inside a bowl of water. This will cause a mold that will quickly and easily clean off the layer of gel covering each seed. Then all you have to do is repeatedly add water, and pour off the surface. Good seeds should stay on the bottom and you’ll be getting rid of the floating bad ones. Dry and let them sit like every other seed. All you have to do afterward is ceil them tightly away in a glass jar, and set it away in a dry place.
Melons: It’s very easily to remove, clean and dry melon seeds. This includes everything from honeydew to watermelon.
Squash: Let your squash mature fully before harvesting. Be sure the fruit fully germinates by letting the squash sit for 3 weeks after taking them off the vine. Now, it’s good to start extracting the seeds.
Others (onions, carrots, parsnips, etc): These vegetables are harvested in autumn, and stored through the winter. The plants will grow extremely tall and eventually, seed heads will form. All you have to do is cut off the head, leave them hanging to dry, and remove the seed itself.
Planting your garden
Excavate a hole nearly 6 inches deep in your yard. Get all of the weeds and roots as far away from the hole as possible. Chop up, crumble, and smooth out the soft earth. Fill in those few missing inches with potting soil and miracle grow from the store.
Planting asparagus: The best time would be in the early spring. Make sure you put them 12 inches apart and up to 5 inches in the ground.
Planting raspberries: First off, raspberries should not be grown in an area that you’ve been using for peppers, tomatoes or potatoes. If these are recycled seeds, they must be set 2 inches deeper than they were in the last harvest. Plant them in the late fall, early spring, and about 2 feet apart.
Planting lettace: Lettace seems to do best if planted sometime before spring. The cool weather does lettace seeds good for some reason. Scatter some seeds into rows that measure about 15 inches apart, and cover them up with some soft soil. Once you start getting sprouts, be sure you thin out the herd. You want your lettace patch to grow healthy. To do that, they have to be 6 to 10 inches apart, kept wet and cool. It should take your lettace patch up to 90 days to fully develop.
Given the multitude of fruits and vegetables out there, you should be able to plant at least one of these. It will be exceptionally tough to get the seeds from certain fruits or vegetables, so I would advise you to stick to the easiest ones to cultivate. Pick up seed packets at the store to start off your yearly garden plan. The back of those packets should give you some idea when to start growing.
Some fruits or vegetables are just too hard though. Sure, the idea of making a peanut garden sounds like fun but given all of the research, trying to find an actual peanut seed – it might not even be worth the trouble. The hardest fruit or vegetable I would recommend trying to grow would be something like potatoes.
Plasting potates: A potato seed can be planted as soon as the ground thaws for spring. After storage, the best time to put your recycled potato seeds in the ground is mid-June. They will not grow in soil that’s less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the soil isn’t soggy or too dry. Keep them spaced about 15 inches apart in rows about 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart.
Planting strawberries: This is the one fruit you can grow just about anywhere. Strawberries don’t require much at all. Pick just about any spot in the yard. The more sun the better, but make sure they can get at least 6 hours worth. Be sure the soil has good drainage. It can’t get too wet. If the seedlings get soaked, they might rot. You might raise the bed a little by adding about 6 inches of compost. Plant them as soon as you can work the ground. Depending on the type of strawberry you get, )(Everbearers or Junebearers) you should expect an approximate 90 day wait with everbearers and 2 to 4 of fruit with Junebearers. You should probably set them about 1/2 inch deep in healthy soil.
Planting cucumbers: Cucumber seeds should be finally planted between May and June, just toward the end of spring. Oddly enough, cucumber seeds need a small pile or “mound” of dirt resting on top of the regular soil. Keep each mound about 36-48 inches apart. Set 3 to 4 seeds inside every mound.
Planting tomatoes: Best planted in May, your tomatoes should be spaced 30 to 36 inches apart, and set around a 1/2 inch deep. It should take about 4 to 5 months to reach their full potential. Make sure to provide a way to protect your growing baby tomatoes from freezing in cold nights. They can grow up stakes, grown in cages or grown along the ground. No matter what, they are extremely fragile to the elements in those first few weeks.
Planting melons: Everything from the watermelon to the cantalope is best planted in May. They should all be set about 72 inches apart and 1 inch deep. It’ll take your melons about 4-5 months to mature. They will do best if given plenty of manure with the potting soil.
Planting squash: Much like the cucumber, up to four squash seeds are planted 1/2″ to 1″ inside of a mound of dirt. The mounds should be 36″ apart, and every row should be 36″ apart. Give them 4 to 5 months to fully develop. The soil should be rich, and the planting area should stay as warm as possible.
Planting carrots: Give the carrots an elevated place from which to grow. You might even think about planting them in a flower pot. They need well-draining, fertile topsoil that offers the growing sprouts plenty of organic matter. Keep the area cleaned of roots and such. No rocks. Space your planted seeds about 2-4 inches apart in rows set 12 to 20 inches apart, and a 1/2 inch deep. They should mature by 90 days.
Planting pumpkins: Now, I imagine these will be really fun, and really popular just before Halloween. You’ve got to get started on your quaint pumpkin patch in May. Your pumpkin seeds must be set 6-8″ apart in rows around 36 inches apart, and 3 to 4 inches deep. They take 4-5 months to reach their full potential. Make sure you give them a wide birth. They can grow out to extreme lengths.
Raising your fruits and vegetables
You’ve got your fruits and vegetables in the ground, now what do you do? Follow the three W’s: Wait, watch, and water. Certain fruits and vegetables need more water than others. Some require more fertizer than others. The following list will tell you what these certain fruits and vegetables will need to grow and mature healthly. You literally become a parent to these growing sprouts. You’re raising them to be the best that they can be.
Raising and protecting potatoes: Watch out for aphids, Colorado potato beetles, cutworms, flea beetles, and maybe even blister beetles. Rotate your crops regularly and give them good oxygen circulation to prevent potato diseases; such as, black leg, ring rot or scabs. Make sure you water heavily if conditions get too dry and hot outside.
Raising and protecting raspberries: Prune your raspberries as much as possible. If they’re kept trimmed neatly, you’ll produce many, many high-quality berries. Like strawberries, there are two types of raspberries: Ever-bearers and summer-bearers. Ever-bearers need the most attention. Cut down old canes at ground-level to Summer-bearing berries can produce berries on 2-year-old canes. All you have to do is cut down the brown, rotten canes, and keep the area clean. Certain raspberries will reproduce themselves. Just remove the smallest canes in winter to give your spring crop air to grow. There are certain fungi diseases that will attack raspberries. Look for a powdery mildew on the fruit, leaves, and shoots. Anthracnose is marked by dark blotches on the canes. Cane blight causes the the tips of shoots to wilt. Just be sure to keep an eye out and keep up the pruning.
Raising and protecting carrots: These little guys need a lot of moisture, from the time you plant to the time you start harvesting. If they get dry, you won’t get many carrots and dryness can cause carrots to split. Production is higher with consistant watering. Don’t water too much or you’ll be getting fuzzy-looking roots, and that’s not good. The best thing to do is put up an organic mulch to keep the moisture levels up. Don’t forget when you’re planting and raising carrots, they need as much organic matter in the fertizer as possible. Keep an eye out for white maggots, and or tunnels filled with a brownish, crumbly material. This can be a sign that your harvest has just been attacked by carrot rust flies. Watch for dark spots with yellow borders on the leaves, you’ll know you have fungal leaf blight. Aster yellows are another disease to watch out for; marked by, stunted, light yellow leaves and woody roots with tufts of white side roots.
Raising and protecting tomatoes: Water, water, water. Water early in the day and water from the ground up to keep diseases from breaking out on your tomatoes. Keep even the bed well watered to balance moisture. Add some straw or grass clipping to the bed for optimum health. Once you’ve started the tomatoes out in their well-fertilized bed, they won’t need anymore. Cutworms, green caterpillars, hornworms and aphids are all the pests you need to keep an eye out for. You’ll know you’ve got problems if your tomato’s stems are chewed off, you find holes in the leaves, curled down leaves with tiny black, pink or green insects on them. If you find spot speckles on leaves or a sunken, brownish-black area at the blossom, you’ve got some kind of tomato disease. Simply get rid of all traces by cutting off the infected areas and completely trashing the entire lot at the end of the season. You want to keep your bed healthy and disease-free for next year’s crop.
Ideas for places to sell your produce
Put up a separate stand at your very own garage sale just to distribute and sell your goods.
Put up a stand at the local flea market. Many vendors at flea markets have a lot to offer, so you might consider producing a healthy share of fruits and vegetables.
Call up your local Whole Foods market or grocery store, and ask around if anyone will consider buying your produce. Whole Foods buys from small farmers, so I can’t see why they would reject you for your own line of organic produce.
Create your own website or look into selling your produce on auction-based sites, like eBay.
I got this idea to try and help my readers get by, make a buck, eat healthy and cheaply. I just hope it works out for you. Anything is better than being broke by the end of the month.