I don’t have a garden and honestly, I don’t enjoy sweating, hoeing, and getting bug bites! If you live in an apartment or like me, have a yard that is nearly completely shaded throughout the summer, you cannot grow a garden.
I have grown gardens. My grandparents and parents had one from before I was born until the year my father died. I guess you could say I have about 30 years experience growing a garden. Still don’t like it. It is cheaper, if you have the room or inclination but remember, this blog is about those of us who are domestically impaired!
I frequent farmer’s markets which are open in Oklahoma from the first weekend in April till the last weekend in October. I live in the 3rd largest city in Oklahoma and it is the most “locally grown” aggressive. So, what ends up happening is that prices tend to be too high to make this canning process cost efficient. Luckily, I am from an agrarian state so nearly every small town and many roadsides, have “fruit stands” as we call them. They have fruit and vegetables and are direct from the farmer in the area.
For instance, last summer our local grocery stores had hot-house tomatoes Roma in July for $2.36 per pound. The Norman Farmer’s Market had home-grown or shipped in tomatoes for $2 per pound and up. 18 miles away in a small town, I could get home-grown tomatoes on a Saturday morning for about $1 per pound. I could also get Mexican tomatoes from the Mercado in OKC for 88 cents per pound. Since I purchase between 30-50 pounds at a time to make spaghetti sauce and salsa, you can bet I went for the latter two. Even if I have to drive 40 miles round trip – at $3 per gallon that adds $6 to the cost, it makes 30 pounds cost $36 instead of $60 or more here in town.
Fruits, you can get from many places besides grocery stores or orchards. I am not a person who wants to climb up in a tree in the middle of July or August when it’s about 100 degrees in Oklahoma getting sticky and bug bitten while trying to decide if the peaches in the trees are ripe or not. I would rather just buy them.
Or, here is another way to do it: poll all your friends and parent’s friends to see what older person owns a home with fruit trees. Talk with them about how they pick the fruit and if they like jam/jelly. If they are pickers but no longer canners, as if they have old jars in the garage that you could have. Then, take all the fruit and jars they will give you, you buy the sugar, pectin, and lids and make the jam….giving them half of what you come out with.
Some older folks have lots of time on their hands, know all the back roads, and LOVE homemade jam. They will go so far to find wild or sand plums growing beside the road and bring them to you to can. I can’t tell you how many of my mom’s friends have done just that! She also has a friend, who has a sister that has an apricot tree in her back yard. She and her neighbors pick the apricots and bring huge boxes of them to me. She also rounds up all their jars. I buy the rest and get to work. Then, I split the completed jams/jelly with her. She splits her share with all the neighbors and everyone is thrilled! Apricots cost a good deal of money at the grocery store so it helps me too!
I’m not a person who shops with glass jars and pillow cases. Truth be told, I ask for plastic as often as I remember to take my reusable bags. I just try to save money where I am able to and hope for the best. I also like the satisfaction of doing something “domestic” and helping the elderly when I can.