In Hard Times, Grow What You Eat

— Written By Mary Hollingsworth and last updated by

The economy is in shambles, food prices are up, companies are laying off employees, housing prices are slumping and gardening may not be your priority at this time. Have you ever considered that in bad economic times, one way to help your economic woes is to grow your own food?

Growing a simple vegetable garden can save hundreds of dollars in food costs. For example, consider lettuce. You can pay $2 a head or you can spend that same $2 for a packet of seeds that can yield hundreds of heads of lettuce! Investing in an edible garden can reap dividends now and later.

The best part is you don’t have to wait to get started. Spring is right around the corner and now’s the time to get started. Its a great time to grow your own potatoes, just a couple of seed potatoes planted in the ground can yield hundreds of fresh garden potatoes that you no longer have to buy in the store. Wait until the last frost before you start planting things like tomatoes and peppers. Typically the best time to start planting is around the first of April.

If you’re concerned that you don’t have the land, that’s okay too. Many vegetables do well in containers or even trash bags. You can grow potatoes in trash bags just as well as you can in the ground. There are many advantages to container gardening. The potting soil is free of insects and diseases, so vegetable transplants and seeds can get off to a good start. You can protect young, tender plants from the sun, heavy storms, and pests by moving containers to sheltered locations. You can grow the plants longer into the fall by protecting them and moving the pots to the sunniest spots once the days get cooler and plant growth slows.

Whether you choose to grow your own food in containers or the back yard, Hoke County Cooperative Extension is here to help. We will be offering a “Grow What You Eat, Eat What You Grow Workshop” at the Cooperative Extension Office on March 20th at 1 p.m. We will be teaching about selecting and preparing a site, soil and fertilization, planting and harvesting and garden problems that gardeners may face. If you are interested in growing what you eat, this will be a great workshop for you to attend. Pre-registration is required by March 19th. For more information contact me, Mary Hollingsworth, Extension Horticulture Agent, with Hoke County Cooperative Extension, by phone at 910-875-3461, by E-mail at, or stop by the office at 116 West Prospect Avenue, Raeford, NC 28376. For more information about Extension visit our website at