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Mom saves over $1,000 a year by eating fruit and veggies grown in her garden

"It tastes better, I'm saving money and I get the benefits of keeping my anxiety down."

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(Christen McCoy via SWNS)

By Athena Stavrou via SWNS

This mom saves $1.5k a year by eating fruit and vegetables grown in her garden. And she says she doesn't have to buy any fresh produce for half of the year.

Christen McCoy, 37, started gardening during the pandemic and now grows more than 50 different types of plants in her back garden.

She manages to feed her family of five exclusively from the fruit and vegetables in her garden from May to September.

Even in the winter, Christen and her three children - aged between four to 10 - still feast on produce she's managed to preserve in the warmer months.

Christen McCoy's garden. (Christen McCoy via SWNS)

Mom-of-three Christen, a music teacher, from Central Maryland, said: "I used to live in a townhouse, so we only had a little balcony where I'd put strawberries and tomatoes or anything I could fill the balcony with.

"When we saved for a house and moved three years ago...I knew I wanted to start gardening properly.

"I did so much research, read every book, followed gardeners on Instagram and was completely ready to go.

One of Christen's tomato harvests. (Christen McCoy via SWNS)

"When Covid hit I started teaching online so I was able to put all of my effort into it, and everyone else in the world started gardening too.

"I now have over 50 plants in my garden, and the list grows every year. I eat healthier, my children know how to grow their own food, I know exactly what I'm eating, it tastes better, I'm saving money and I get the benefits of keeping my anxiety down."

Christen plants everything from fresh herbs and garlic to several types of melon and mini cucumbers called cucamelons - which look like miniature watermelons.

This year she has managed to harvest 564 pounds of fresh produce from her garden.

One of her favorite dinners to cook from her garden is a one-pan meal made from peppers, onions tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh herbs, all from her garden, paired with sausages and pasta.

She said: "People don't believe that you can eat from your garden all year, because of course less grows in the winter.

"But I preserve most things, so although we're not eating everything fresh, it's still come from there.

"I pickle peppers, cucumbers and cucamelons, make and freeze tomato sauce and freeze all my berries.

"I dehydrate all of my herbs, so they're good to use all year round, and make jellies and jams, even out of savory plants like peppers - I made the most amazing lemon drop pepper jelly the other day."

Whilst she lost some money during her first year of planting, Christen thinks the investment will save her and her young family thousands in the future.

She said: "I know I'm privileged and lucky to be able to do this, I have the land now and I could put some money upfront.

"But this year I've barely spent anything on supplies, maybe some money on some extra soil, but cost-wise I've made up for that in berries alone.

"They're so expensive and my kids eat them like they're drinking water. I've definitely saved so much money on produce, this entire year probably around $1,500.

"So, it works out cheaper, and things taste so much better as well."

Christen shares her gardening adventures with her 160k followers on her TikTok profile, with some videos racking up over 1.4million views.

She's a keen member of the online gardening community and likes to share her best gardening tips and tricks.

She said: "It's really important to take advice from your neighbors and people in your 'zone' above anyone else.

"Where I live, we truly get all four seasons - from heatwaves to blizzards - so I couldn't take my advice from someone who lives in California and can grow throughout the year.

"Your neighbors will be your biggest resource, they'll know where to get things and what grows, and it's really nice to speak with them too.

"Overall, the best piece of advice I have is to just start.

"I think a lot of people are intimidated by gardening, they look at someone who's been gardening for a while and think it's loads of work and really overwhelming, so a lot of people just don't do it, or are afraid to fail.

"But I can confidently say that gardeners and farmers are the number one killer of plants, I have killed more plants than anyone else - but it's through those failures that I've done the most learning."

Produce Christen and her family eat from their garden all year:

January - Lettuces, carrots and leafy greens growing in 'cold frames'
February - Last of the lettuces and carrots, plus pickles and frozen veg and berries
March - Radishes and leafy greens
April - All pea varieties (garden, snow-peas, snap-peas)
May - Strawberries, broccoli and cabbages, basil, thyme, garlic
June - Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, garlic, basil, thyme
July - Tomatoes, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, garlic
August - All melon varieties, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers
September - Pumpkins, other squash varieties, green beans, onions
October - Potatoes, last of the peppers, green beans, tomatoes and onions
November - Lettuces, carrots, cucamelons, parsley, coriander and mint
December - Lettuce, carrots, rosemary, mint

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