MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Grow your own food

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Last year's drought has produce prices on the rise, pushing more and more people to grow their own food.

NBC12's Diva of Discounts shows you where to start and how to do it as cheaply as possible.

Kevin Cutlip got his green thumb from his grandparents. He says March is a good time to start seeds indoors.

"You can save them from anything you buy at a grocery store. You core out a pepper and there it is," said Cutlip. "You could get 30 new plants off one pepper."

Dry the seeds and they'll be ready to plant. Kevin buys his starter kits at the end of the season when they're on clearance.

"Seed-to-soil contact is the key."

You can use seed starting mix, which is relatively inexpensive, but there's a cheaper alternative.

"The seeds will germinate in the dryer lint."

Young roots grow downward, looking for moisture, so Kevin waters only the bottom of the plant. Watering from the top should only be done with a spray bottle. His starter garden is in his garage, so when the plants sprout a few leaves, he waters with manure tea.

"Cut the piece of pantyhose off, stuff it full of manure, put it in the onion bag, tie a knot like a teabag, fill it with water and let it steep for four or five days."

Seeds need 6-8 hours of light. Kevin's four-foot light was only $12. Just use daylight-colored compact fluorescent bulbs in a regular lamp.

Some vegetables are regenerative. After you've cut off the portion you'll eat, re-plant the rest. You'll get another plant.

"This was an end cut of piece of celery. All I did was soak it for a couple days - when a chute came up the middle, I repotted it and now look I'm going to have another celery."

You can do this with carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, leeks and chives.

A frost usually does not occur after mid-April in metro Richmond. If you start now, your plants will be ready to go outside by that date.

Kevin's "how to" videos make it easy for anyone to garden -

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