One of the most frugal forms of enjoyment comes from gardening, in my opinion. If you get past the allergy seasons, and learn how to deal with the heat and wind, you're good to go. The joy of helping something grow to a beautiful prayer with your own hands is awesome. But the learning part is the real Thrill.
Have you heard of Square Foot Gardening? The concept: put more plants in one square foot than in three linear feet; garden more easily, with less waste, weeds and effort. The system uses homemade raised beds with a soil mix, and provides crop rotation/replanting through a season. Small, simple, a cinch.
Years ago I tried square foot gardening, but didn't do well (various factors). I've recently learned there's an even easier, new SFG method, and I've been researching success stories in our area. I've only found one really good local example on the Internet. But I have seen, through fences and wind-fallen fences, that there are many square foot gardens throughout Omaha. The method is super easy, and the SFGs I spy are flourishing. Where are the blogs, folks?
The past few summers, I grew tomatoes in two pots that just happen to be 1 cubic foot (if you're geometrically challenged, that's a square foot, one foot deep). Last year I had buckets of toms! This year, they did not do well. Out of four plants, one Better Boy did not fruit, its partner bore one tomato, and the other two bore a total of maybe 10 very small fruits. Disappointing! I found a Topsy Turvy on clearance, so I plan to use that next year for the tomatoes, freeing up my square-foot pots (I actually have four).
I thought about planting a late summer/fall SFG crop, but it was too late already. So I have my sights set on a winter of planning, and a spring of planting. I found a fabulous site that sends weekly emails on what you should be doing in your SFG based on your location. My Square Foot Garden has a huge amount of information, written well, with videos, diagrams, and lots of helpful tips. This is just a starting point, of course. My own trials and errors will play a big part in the success (hopefully) of next year's crops.
I'm just going to try four pots (plus the tomatoes in the hangy thingy) next year. Since I know what my fam will eat, and will not eat, I pretty much know what to try to grow: lettuce, carrots, onions, potatoes, to start in the spring. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile, I continue to dream of an outdoor garden/living space that's allergen free. A girl can dream!