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Preserve your garden vegetables to supplement your grocery budget »

Oct 10

Start a garden to offset your grocery budget

P1020002I am so proud of my husband! For those of you that don’t know him, his go big or go home attitude has given us a beautiful garden. He first started with a single pepper plant, and from there has done endless research on what he can successfully grow in South Florida, which is not easy (Zone 10 gardening, he calls it) Here he is, enjoying the morning, looking at his little empire 🙂


Here is a sunflower he planted to attract bees to pollinate the other vegetables.


Here is a pepper plant, what started it all! From there he planted malabar spinach, an interesting vegetable called lemon cucumbers (which do not taste like lemon, are only shaped like them), everglades tomatoes (which are tinier than a cherry tomato.) They will grow all year in South Florida, and will keep reproducing, as long as you harvest the fruit as they grow. Basil (my favorite just to eat from the plant)  Isis tomatoes (which is a cherry tomato, marble in color, yellow with red streaks) Fruit includes mysore raspberries and papaya (red lady, a dwarf plant, growing 5-8 feet tall, also self pollinating, not needing a male to pollinate) Oak leaf lettuce, collard greens ( which he says will taste delicious with ham hocks. ) Garden peas, called little marvel. He also randomly stuck in some garlic and onion in the pots.  Mint is growing like crazy. The aromatics keep the aphids away from the garden. This is another organic way to keep the bugs away.


This one is ruby red swiss chard. People say the red stem tastes like celery and can be pickled or preserved and higher in antioxidants.


Here are seedlings he planted before growing season began.

Some tips from Steve:

  • Keep an eye on the plants, look at them during different times (night and day) Look at the leaves for signs of pests.
  • Use Neem oil to spray the plants with, and this will keep the bugs to a minimum. This is an organic way to control bugs.
  • Use a fertilizer with calcium
  • Use a good soil with a lot of different nutrients to make the vegetable taste better.
  • Secure tomato plants with something they can grow on vertically so they don’t spread on the ground.
  • Do not overwater. The soil should feel moist when you stick your finger into it, not muddy.

We don’t live or garden in a large space, we own a townhouse and all of our plants are grown in pots. Once everything is mature, this will save quite a bit on our grocery budget. I am so proud of the effort Steve puts into this garden to make it successful,and it is beautiful to look at.

If you want to check out more of Steve’s gardening tips check out his youtube channel here.

Would you grow your own food? Do you have any tips for us as we try to garden in the challenging South Florida area?


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  1. Paul

    Looks like Steve has done a great job considering the space constrictions I’m imagining. Couple alternatives to pots as I see he is also using 5 gallon buckets too. I have 3/4 of an acre to work with but since I live in a flood plane the builder and previous owner put the whole property on 24 ft of fill dirt (no nutrients in soil). I have been mulching a particular area and after the first rains of this fall I noticed night crawlers (big earthworms) coming up. So that’s a good sign it will be ready to till and plant next spring. Anyway until this point I’ve had to plant like I’ve had no area also. So I’ve got creative. If you have old totes that my be cracked or unusable for any thing else drill some holes in bottom fill with soil and viola extra large deep plant bed. Used those for stuff with longer roots like beets and turnips. Speaking of which, those are double duty veggies. Most people have heard of turnip greens but many don’t know that beet greens are very tasty too. Another planter idea is while your cruising yard sales look for one if the smaller plastic kiddie pools and also drill holes in bottom. If you have no luck at yard sales even a new one only cost a few bucks at dollar general. They are about 4 feet in width but shallow. They are good for shallow rooted ground cover items. Like squash, cucumbers, lettuce, and strawberries. Looking at Steve’s set up I have one more veggie he may wanna try if you like green beans. Kentucky Wonders are a very hearty and tasty pole bean that will climb anything. One stalk yields many pods and they can be planted a couple of inches from each other. They will climb right up those trellis he has put together in that picture. As it seems I have rambled once again, I will leave you with 2 words that may help someone that lives in an apartment and wants fresh veggies……aero garden. It works as advertised. I’ve grown cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and a multitude of herbs completely in doors. A bit of an investment but when you can cut enough lettuce for six salads every other day or grow your own Mexican or Italian herbs, it’s well with it.

    1. DanaPots

      Thanks again, Paul. I really appreciate all the time you take to read and comment on my posts 🙂

      Steve did try the kiddie pool idea, but found he was struggling with proper drainage. It also took a lot of room, as the space is only about 8×17. We did have an aerogarden as well, I loved it! Steve says he is running out of room, but truth to be told, I don’t think he likes green beans 😉

      Right now he is pickling (fermenting?) some cabbage, have you tried that? I will post some pictures later. He did some jars of cauliflower, carrots and celery for me, I like it, but it is an acquired taste if you are used to pickles from a grocery store.

      I would love to see some pictures of your garden when you get it up and running!
      DanaPots recently posted…How far will you go to cut expenses?My Profile

  2. Paul

    No thanks necessary. You do all the work by setting up and maintaining the blog. I just get to ramble on and on by hitting reply. Lol. Never thought about the drainage issue. I had mine in my back deck and the cracks beneath the boards were fortunate for drainage. Pickling? Are you kidding me? I spent summers on my grandmothers farm. When she was younger mason jars were only for the wealthy. So for winter vegetables their only resource was pickling in stoneware jars with coarse salt. She of course started using a canning method with jars for items she didn’t want pickled later in life but things like sauerkraut, pickles, pickled corn, beans, peppers, etc were still used in those ten gallon stoneware jars. I still have one that I refuse to sell because I won’t make sauerkraut any other way. I also got her kraut cutter. Not sure that can be googled. So I will try and describe. It is washboard like in appearance. For all your younger readers, a washboard is a 1′ by 3′ wooden framed piece of corrugated metal that folks uses to scrub clothes on in big galvanized tubs if warm soapy water to get them clean. Anyway, instead of the corrugated metal the kraut cutter has two steel blades atop one another (like a razor) that go across the frame at a 45 degree angle. To shred the cabbage I place the cutter above the crock, cut the cabbage in half, and slide the heart of the cabbage across the two blades and the sliced parts fall right into the crock. Yes I own a food processor but I find that shreds too fine for me. Plus, do you realize how many times it would take emptying eve the biggest capacity processor to get 10 gallons of shredded cabbage? Quicker the old fashioned way. After it is all sliced, I pour rock salt on it and cover first with plates and a brick to weight it down. The cover the crock with old cut up cotton sheets securing with a rubber band to keep fruit flys out. The I let it sit for a few months. The longer it sits the more sour gets. Again I’m rambling on and on but while Steve is in pickling mode, I have an interesting combo that I came upon some time ago. It makes a great snack food. A party item that will be different than others people put out. I know he put out peppers but I’m not sure which. If you have either hot or mild banana peppers. Cut the tops off and remove the seeds and pith leaving the pepper intact. Then stuff them with a hot dog. Put them in a wide mouth jar upright and cover with pickling brine and seal jar. During the pickling process the hot dogs will marinate inside and expand inside the pepper. When they are ready just open them up and cross slice them. They are good as a toothpick food or on crackers. Go we’ll many snacks. BTW thank Steve for the styrofoam cup tip on YouTube that’s very smart and money saving. Now I may not lose as many new transplants.

    1. DanaPots

      Hi Paul Steve here. Thanks for watching my video. Much appreciated as I just started the channel on YouTube two months ago. Have a good one Paul and feel free to comment on the videos on YouTube too. Always good to hear from a fellow frugal gardener.

    2. DanaPots

      The hot dog snacks sound delicious! Canning supplies still are only for the wealthy 😉 We pick up a lot at thrift stores. I will show you some of the cabbage in another post.

      Happy Saturday!

      DanaPots recently posted…How far will you go to cut expenses?My Profile

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