With the steep increase in food prices over the last year, most Canadians are noticing that their grocery bills are getting significantly higher. Housing prices have steadily risen for years, so having another necessity in life getting more expensive can be tough to take on—not to mention budget accordingly.
But while affording rent or a home can be a difficult workaround, growing some of your own food is a completely feasible way to save money each month. In addition to more complex methods, such as blending almonds to make dairy-free milk, or cashews to make dairy-free cheese, buying some seedlings or using food scraps to grow fruits and vegetables is quite simple.
Growing your own produce
Households that consist of four people are generally spending over $1,000 more on groceries this year (with pregnant and nursing women leading in individual rankings of money spent on food).
Even more interestingly, vegetables were actually projected to increase most in price by 2023 at a 6 to 8 percent rate (fruit was 3 to 5 percent).
Salad staples like lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers, as well as seasonings like basil, parsley, garlic and onions, can all be grown indoors. Some other items include all-year favourites like potatoes, avocados, and lemons. Why not DIY your own produce instead of buying it? Here are some easy tips to keep in mind, from the ‘where’ to the ‘how’.
Using pots or containers
Growing food indoors requires emulating outdoor conditions as much as possible. You will need a pot or container that is large enough to plant the seeds or food scraps, taking into account the growth and expansion of the roots. It should also have a drainage hole at the bottom, with a saucer or plate underneath to catch any water that seeps out.
Gardening centers, craft stores, and even dollar stores are good places to purchase new pots or containers if you don’t already have ones you can repurpose. You will also need specially-formulated indoor potting soil to plant your vegetables and fruit.
Getting enough sunshine and water
The best place to set your homegrown crops is in front of a window so they can absorb natural sunshine (which is preferable). But, alternatively, you can opt for a grow light to place them under, which will create synthesized sunshine. Vegetables require 4 to 6 hours of daily sunlight and fruits require 8 to 10 so this is a crucial aspect of growing your own food. You may need to experiment with the best spot in your home where they can flourish.
It is also important not to overwater them, while simultaneously being mindful of low humidity in your home (a common situation throughout the cold winter months). Light daily misting with a spray bottle or using a cool-mist humidifier is ideal to ensure they stay properly hydrated rather than drying out.
Additional benefits of growing your own food
If you have a little extra time and energy to devote to growing vegetables and fruits indoors, you can certainly save some money on your grocery bill each month (approximately $85 for a family of four). You may also just need a little patience until the crops become large and ripe enough to eat.
But in addition to the economic benefits, growing your own food is healthier—and usually tastier—as you minimize pesticides and transport from different provinces or countries. Everything is truly “locally grown” and fresh for you and your family to enjoy when you sit down for a meal together.
Robyn Karmazyn | Contributing Writer