Grow Your Own Groceries

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - "So these are little jalapeno peppers and you can make pepper sauce out of this, or chop them up and put them in a stir fry," says UGA Cooperative Extension Agricultural Agent Jennifer Davidson.

No matter how they end up on the dinner table, a little sweat equity goes a long way in the garden.

Experts say it's a way to eat healthy and save money.

"We want to make sure that people know they have some power within themselves to feed their families very inexpensively and also feed their families healthy food, they don't always have to choose the $.99 value meal," says Davidson.

Speaking of a dollar, that's about how much some seed packets run, compared to paying per pound for fresh vegetables in the store.

"You can see even just right this minute we've got two, four, six, eight, 12, 15, maybe even up to 20 tomatoes already on this plant," says Davidson about the yield coming from one tomato plant.

Plus, Davidson says it's not just initial investment that saves money.

"You usually have a longer shelf life for certain vegetables if you pick them fresh out of the garden, maybe they'll last for you rather then being shipped from some far away country."

The garden we visited just off of 2nd Avenue in Columbus is the perfect example of growing your own groceries. It's a neighborhood garden, designed for people who live in the community to plant and harvest their own vegetables.

"It's really important especially if some people may be having a hard time making their budget stretch, they can certainly come do some work here and then harvest what vegetables are available," says Davidson.

So, from tomatoes to okra, peppers and greens, Davidson says it's all possible to grow right here in the Valley, and it's not too late.

"You might want to do a little research and make sure you choose the varieties that grow best here in this area, you may want to, again, make sure you start with the healthiest soil."

Soon enough, you've got a savory meal and you've saved money all at the same time.

If you'd like more about growing your own groceries, the UGA Cooperative Extension office is hosting a seminar on July 8th from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. titled "Organic Alternatives in the Vegetable Garden."

It's free, but spaces are limited, you can call 706-653-4200 to reserve a seat.