I spent the first segment going over triple coupons rules (triple 20 coupons per day, only coupons less than $1 will triple). I shared on the air some of the amazing deals that my readers have been getting this week. Hop on over to my Delly’s Deals Facebook page to not only see their deals but to also share your deal. I will draw for a Deluxe Coupon Binder Kit on Monday from all who have shared a deal. Remember that you can go to www.southernsavers.com to see three different lists of many of the deals that are available this week during Triple Coupons Week.
Today we also had a special guest on the Delly’s Deals Radio Show- New Hanover County Extension Service Director and gardening expert, Al Hight. He answered my and callers questions about summer vegetable gardening.
For those who are beginners to growing crops, some of the easier options are cucumbers, peppers, beans. I can certainly attest to the peppers as I had no difficulties growing them- they literally took off for me and had no problems all summer and they continued to produce into the fall. I also put them in my front flower bed where they were beautiful ornamental plants and added spectacular color.
Some of the more difficult choices would be tomatoes (interestingly, many people choose tomatoes as a starter plant when in actuality they are one of the more problematic crops to grow). One tip for tomatoes is to add calcium sulfate (found in bags at your local home garden store) when the tomatoes start flowering. This can help prevent the blossom end rot which is the grayish/brown circles under the bottom of the tomato.
Corn may be fun to grow (which I did), however from a frugal and spacial standpoint it may not be the best choice since one stalk may produce only one to two ears. Corn must also be planted in several rows at least in order to cross-pollinate. I do plan to plant corn this year in a bigger space in my backyard, as I loved the convenience of picking it when I was ready as well as the fresh and sweet taste. Here is a great article on planting corn in the backyard.
Pumpkins grow in this area too (a reader on my FB page wanted to know this). Plant your seeds in July to have pumpkins in time for October! Be sure to give yourself lots of space, as pumpkins vine all over the place and can quickly take over an area.
Something interesting that I learned was about fertilizer and adding organic matter to the soil. This is good for the garden and a product that I loved last year was “Black Cow,” which I bought at Lowes (can also be found at Home Depot). It is composted cow manure but it comes in a nice bag and doesn’t smell nor look nor feel like cow manure! It looks like beautiful soil and it seemed that anything that this stuff touched grew amazingly well. I bought five bags for about $5 each and simply mixed it into my soil. You can even plant young tomato seedling plants directly into the bag and they will grow right out of the bag!
One thing Al told me was that I overpaid by buying the name brand of Black Cow (I will search for coupons :)). He said off brand could be purchased for half the cost of what I paid and can be found at most home garden centers. I will certainly be looking for the off-brand if I can’t find coupons for the Black Cow.
Finally, Al mentioned the fall garden, too, so I may have him back on late summer/early fall. He mentioned that lettuce is super easy and can be an enormous value to grow versus buy. For example, he paid $3 for lettuce seeds and probably ate $300 worth of lettuce this fall/winter. I’m definitely curious to learn more about fall gardening!
In conclusion, Al said that it’s feasible for a family of say, five people, to do a garden for less than $100. In some ways, it depends on your infrastructure. If you are starting from scratch, say converting grass to a garden, there may be some initial expense such as renting a rototiller, but subsequent years should definitely be a lot simpler. I will say this- I did a patio garden in a former flowerbed last summer. The area was probably 3 feet by 8 feet and I was super impressed with my results. My crops did extremely well considering that I put very little money into them (never tilled, never really fertilized, minimal pesticides). This year I will spend a little more as I intend to have a bigger garden.
If the task seems daunting to you, try a container garden in pots and maybe only try one or two crops. You don’t have to plant everything! Give it a shot and you may be super impressed with the results.
For more information on local gardening (here in Southeastern NC, go here to access the New Hanover County Extension Service). They can be reached by phone at 798-7660 and you can speak to a master gardener who can help answer your questions. Also, Youtube was a wonderful resource to me last year as well.
Best of luck to you with your summer garden and I will periodically update you on mine!