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The Coupon Lady: Setting up a garden

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Another month has flown by in our house­hold as we have been unpacking and getting to know our new neighborhood. I have just finished organizing our diminished stockpiles and have only added sparingly as we are still settling into our new home.

With all of our recent transition, I have to admit that I still haven’t fully gotten back into the coupon life. We have been mainly buying the produce, breads and dairy that we need, but little else, and we have thinned down our deep freezer’s meat stockpile. However, we finally brought over the last few boxes and the old house is getting ready to go on the market, so hopefully things will settle down soon.

With that said, spring is in the air! The weather is already starting to get warmer, but I suspect we will have a few cold mornings before we are done. This is the time to start thinking about planting a small garden space to provide some homegrown produce over the summer. If full-size gardens are not an option, consider planting a small container garden or a raised flower bed. Fresh herbs take only small amounts of space to plant and growing them yourself will save lots of money.

A smart shopper should be able to find some great deals on gardening supplies in March. Make sure you sign up for the coupons from the home improvement chains to score some exclusive deals and coupons. Also, remember that any military member, past or present, gets a 10 percent discount at either of our local home improvement stores by showing an ID card at checkout. You can get the military discount on top of any other sales being offered in the store.

One of my favorite spring pastimes is picking strawberries with my children. Normally, local strawberries come in season in early April, but since winter was so mild, I suspect the crop will be a few weeks early. I would start looking for local farms to start posting opening dates near the last week of March. To find a local “U-Pick” farm, check out www.pickyourown.org.

March is Frozen Food month. Several promotions will focus on the freezer area. Look for specials on frozen fruits and vegetables (bagged and boxed), frozen meals, waffles and ice cream. Traditionally, March is time for some grocery chains to offer the “fill a bag” promotions on meats, so keep a look out at your local stores. Look to novelty ice cream items for some closeout deals as grocers clearance winter leftovers to get ready for new stock.

March is also Spring Cleaning month, so we should see some great deals on cleaners and household items. If coupon trends continue on the same path as last year, we should see lots of coupons on cleaning items that will correspond with the sales so this will be a great time to stock up.

March is National Pea­nut Month, so normally we should see some good sales. However, crops in 2010 and 2011 were much smaller than expected; as a result, the cost of peanut butter and other peanut products rose in 2011. This shortage will continue until this year’s crop starts to yield later this summer.

The major holiday in March is St. Patrick’s Day, so watch for sales on the traditional foods, such as corned beef, potatoes, and any other Irish-themed items.

This month will start to see the first of the spring and early summer crops: vegetables including artichokes, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, fennel, green garlic, kale, leeks, mushrooms, onions, peas, radishes and spinach; and fruits including grapefruit (from Florida) lemons, limes, oranges, rhubarb, strawberries (also from Florida) and tangerines.

As you begin spring cleaning projects, I highly recommend you check expiration dates in your pantry and toss expired items, including old condiments and spices. Keep an eye out for coupon books in the stores, especially with Spring Cleaning and Easter themes. Until next time, happy shopping!

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Reach Carol Gunter at augustacouponlady@yahoo.com.

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