As the price of fuel continues to climb, the price of food increases as well. For people looking for an alternative to rising grocery store prices, Washington State University experts agree that home gardening is quickly becoming an economical option to help save money on food.

Elaine Anderson, who works for WSU King County Extension as the Master Gardener program coordinator, said that if the economy continues to head in the direction it is going, people will begin to think of home gardening as an alternative. Not only is it an economical choice but “home gardening is almost always going to be healthier,” said Anderson. 

Martha Aitken, WSU King County Extension Food Sense program manager, said that home gardening is a healthier choice. “Produce straight out of a garden will almost always be the freshest, since most grocery produce comes from around the country and travels for days,” said Aitken. She said that, in the long run, home gardening can save money, but starting a garden takes time, space and money.

Experts at WSU Extension recommend techniques for gardeners to grow just as many vegetables in half the usual space. This means half the amount of time and money are needed as well.

Intercropping is one technique that helps produce a big harvest. Plant fast-growing crops, such as leaf lettuce, green onions and spinach, in between larger, slower plants like squash and tomatoes. Both crops are planted at the same time but the intercrop will be harvested before the main crop needs its full space.

Another technique is vertical gardening. This method can be used with tall peas and beans that grow up poles and trellis naturally. They will harvest later than the bush varieties, but will produce more.

Both Aitken and Anderson said that it is too soon to determine whether home gardening, as an alternative to the rapidly increasing food prices, has a strong interest among consumers. They said that right now it seems like it is a growing trend that could develop substantially in the future.