Thursday, November 10, 2011

How expensive is it to start a fruit garden?

Have you ever thought of starting a fruit garden, but didn't know where to begin?

These are the things you will need:

1.  Soil
2.  Pot with drainage holes
3.  water
4.  seeds

This seems pretty simple, and it really is.

Soil:     You want to get some rich soil that will have good drainage, will have some perlite or peat moss in it, these will help the roots breathe. You don't want to use soil from your yard as it will dry way too quickly and be overly acidic due to rain and other things in the soil around it. Miracle grow produces some inexpensive, but quality soil. You will find different kinds that are specific for container gardening, some for flowers, some for succulents and some for the outdoors.  There are several sizes available, but a small big can be as little as $4.00.

Pot:     If you are growing from seed or from a small established plant will need to place in a small pot. If you will be growing you fruit indoors expect the plant to grow slower than if outside. The plant will live well in a 6-8 inch pot for at least half a season. Now, some fruit plants grow deeper or shallower than others. This means that you could take an old plastic container or even a gallon of milk cut in half and use that. Your first pot doesn't have to be fancy and you probably already have a container type object in your house. Some people have been able to start a plant from a plastic cup. Just make sure to drill some tiny holes on the bottom of your container if there aren't any there already. If you are starting from a seed you can use something as small as a yogurt cup. You can place these under the sink, on top of the refrigerator, window sill and it should grow well. Also, if you are growing from seed, make sure you soak the seeds for at least 4 hrs in water. This helps to 'wake up' the seed. There are other methods like making little cuts or scrapes on the seed, but if you don't do it right you could hurt the seed. So, in conclusion you can use a container from your house or buy a small container at the store. At Home Depot and other locations you can find a plastic 6 in pot for $1.50!

Water:     This is a given as your new plant will enjoy some nice water. Depending on the fruit plant some will require more water than others. Once the plant has started growing soak the plant (filling the pot half an inch above soil level) once a week if possible. You will know when the plant needs watering when you can put your finger about an inch into the soil and it still feels dry.  But not all these plants are the same. Some might do well with regular misting and others do better with some watering around the pot. Remember that when the fruit starts to grow the plant will benefit from consistent watering. Never over water as the roots will rot. Never let these plants be in sitting water. If you are going to soak the plant make sure the excess water drains out. Later on you can add some fertilizer to your watering which will add about $8.00 to your expenses, but is not necessary right away. Only fertilize in the warm seasons once every two weeks. In the off season once every two months.

Seeds:     You can start your garden with seeds or small plants. Seeds are very inexpensive and can be as little as 50c for a handful on the off season. If done correctly you can actually use some of the seeds from the fruit you buy and it at home. These are often hard to grow or "germinate", but it is possible. But, for the newbie I would recommend buying a small plant as some of these plants take a long time to grow. This way you can see if the plant is healthy, you can watch it grow leafs and you will have a better success rate. Small plants under a year old can be bought for around $10.00. This obviously depends on the plant, availability and age of the plant. Dwarf trees are a great option for growing in pots indoors as most of them don't get over 6 ft tall. Also, they are very comfortable living their whole lives in pots.

So we will do some quick math here at what it costs to start your fruit garden.

At the minimum you are looking at $4.00!!

The only thing you would be paying for is soil! You have a container or two at home already (jars, bottles, cups, plastic containers etc.). You can use your tap water or water from a Brida which you may already have. And you just ate an orange and decided to try to grow the seeds.

So, how does $4.00 sound? With that size bag of soil you'd have enough to fill 4 to 5 very small containers.

Now if you are looking to grow a small plant to get a head start on your fruit garden you are still at under $20.00! I have bought strawberries, blueberries and a small fig plant for about $8.00 each. Find a reputable site and you can be growing your garden in less than a week!!

So the next time you're wondering if you should buy that fruit platter for the party at $20.00! Think again, you could be growing four different fruits from seeds for under $10.00!!

The fun thing about starting your garden and telling people about it is that you might be fortunate enough to find other gardeners in your area. Most gardeners are happy to share a couple small plants or seeds for some of yours in exchange.

So what are you waiting for?? Start growing your favorite fruit today!

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