growing organic herbs; herbs in pots
growing organic berries and fruit

Organic Lemons

Estimated tree cost: $25

Cost in store: $1.29 each

Break even: 20 lemons

organic pest control snakes ducks garlic beer
designing a drought-tolerant organic garden


Estimated cost per tree: $25

Cost in store: 50 cents each

Estimated break-even: 50 limes.

Living a rich life, with or without vast riches


We all have things that soothe our souls. The garden is mine. Whether I have some problem to think about or just need to unwind after a long day, tinkering in the garden -- watching things grow -- hits the reset button on my over-active brain. At some point, I realized my garden wasn't only good for my soul, it was great for my budget.

I can -- and often do -- pick my meals straight out of the garden, What are we having? Let's see what's ripe. I am fortunate to have a big garden, where I can grow a wide array of fruit and vegetables. But you don't need a huge piece of land to cultivate your own food.

Even if all you've got is a pot or a community plot, you too can grow edible plants. About one-third of Americans now do, which is an all-time high. In keeping with my budget-conscious theme, I asked a host of experts about the most cost-effective back-yard (and patio) crops. Some of the stories below reflect their answers. But my favorite response was from  Tony Kienitz, author of The Year I Ate My Yard." "You'll get your best return by planting things you like to eat." he said. Good advice. There's no return in rotting produce. 

Coming soon: Ways to save water, protect your plants from pests and organic  tips on boosting food production. I hope you find the stories fun and helpful.  


Estimated cost per tree: $20

Cost in store: $1.50 per pound

Estimated break-even: 80 plums