By Ruthi Solari
4 months ago, I spent $8 to purchase seeds for planting spinach and red leaf lettuce in my garden. I was impressed with how quickly greens grow with fertile soil, water and sunshine! My planter box is bursting with full bodied greenery. I eat at least one large salad every day and haven’t had to buy greens for over 2 months now. I even give away heads of lettuce to friends when they come to visit.
At the same time as I bought seeds for greens, I spent $6 for beet and onion seeds and $10 on broccoli and napa cabbage seedlings. Today, I cut beet greens to juice or saute almost every day, and they just keep growing back! The beets themselves are almost ready for harvest and I can hardly wait. I also recently learned that broccoli greens (the leaves on the broccoli plants) are packed full of nutrients! So while I wait for the brocolli to mature, I have added broccoli greens as the main player in my braising mix (just a bit of grapeseed or olive oil, sea salt, peper, garlic and voila!).
Since planting my garden, I think my grocery bill has been cut in half! I simply buy some fruit at the farmers market (apples, blood oranges and guava are in season here in San Diego) and some grains, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils in bulk from the local grocery stores. I make my own almond milk (I’ll save that recipe for next time!) and I buy dairy in small amounts to supplement our primarily plant and grain-based diet. It is hard for me to justify leaving the house for meals because I have so much delicious bounty right here in my own backyard.
For tips on urban gardening, I recommend finding a Master Gardener in your local area. These individuals are trained in urban gardening and are committed to helping individuals and organizations grow edible gardens. A master gardener here in San Diego taught me: “take care of the soil and the plants will take care of themselves” http://www.ahs.org/master_gardeners/