My girlfriend recently asked how to start gardening and living off the land. April is the perfect time to ask, as plant and animal sales are inexpensive and the growing season is upon us. Here is how $120 of this week’s grocery budget can easily yield food for 2016 with bumper crops to spare!
- $35- One mature fruit tree suitable to your climate and soil-type, planted during the ideal time (within the next two weeks) with landscaping paper at base. This is a great deal I purchased through the Minnehaha Conservation District. It is easy to underestimate what kinds of trees do well in our climate. You can have Honeycrisp Apples and Rainer Cherries grown in your backyard! This is a list of what is available in Minnehaha County. Photo below is a tree planted several years ago which provides a sweet fragrance and more apricots than we possibly could consume in a season.
2. $12- 6 female chicks. Take advantage of the baby chick season coming to a close (Traditional season is late February through April). Currently, Campbell’s Supply is selling their pullets, 2 for $3.99. Tractor Supply also has great deals at their Chick Days. As city ordinances in Sioux Falls limit families to 6 hens per family, $12 will get you 6 grown chickens in 12 weeks. If you raise them for egg production, chickens each produce 200+ eggs/year in the first 2-3 years.
3. $2- Buy onion bulbs and various seed potatoes- I snapped this photo at Fareway Foods in Sioux Falls, SD. Ok, yes I’m geeking out here but you can get 1# of red, yellow and white onions for $1.19?!? And look at the potato varieties! To grow, simply cut the potatoes so one seed is facing up in the dirt and watch them flourish. I plant them in tires (available free with car mechanics-they are usually glad to avoid the recycling fee from replaced tires). As the season goes on, stack tires with more compost. The buried leaves and stems morph into roots that produce even more potatoes. At the end of the season, kick the tires down like a rock star, and have a feast!
4. $40- Southeast Tech Plant Sale. Arrive early and energized. This place will be packed before doors open 9am on April 28th. I usually purchase the following as plants: asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, peppers, rhubarb, rosemary and tomatoes. Below are the details of their event:
THURSDAY, APRIL 28TH from 9 am – 6 pm
FRIDAY, APRIL 29TH from 9 am – 5 pm
2320 N. Career Ave., Sioux Falls
Southeast Tech Campus Ed Wood Trade & Industry Center
PLANTS – OVER 150 VARIETIES AVAILABLE:
• Foliage Plants
• Hanging Baskets
• Flower Pouches
5. $10 – Seeds. The most popular seeds are only $0.25/pack and can be purchased at Lewis Drug, Sunshine Foods or the Dollar Tree. I prefer to plant the following directly- basil, beans, beets, cantaloupe, cilantro, corn, cucumbers, celery, okra, peas, pumpkin, and zucchini. Once you’ve already planted perennial mint, tarragon, green onions or oregano, they will come up as early as April and won’t need to be purchased/planted again.
6. $30- Kingswood Rummage Sale, Estate Sales, Pinterest up-cycle ideas, Freecycle, Friends and Family- I’ve found loads of gardening gear and canning supplies by keeping my ears and eyes open throughout the year. Get creative with things like bean poles, homemade cold frames and pots.
Now get out there and get dirty!