For all of you who have been reading about gardening as a means of saving money, but who might not have much experience in gardening, I've got a hot tip for you. You can still plant something this year: Garlic! Just as with flower bulbs, fall is the time for garlic planting.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, now is a good time to get some garlic seed stock. There are plenty of seed vendors online which offer suggestions on the best varieties for your area, depending on climate. If the seed stock seems expensive, it is. But remember that with very little effort, this can be a once in a lifetime purchase. Simply save a portion of your crop from year to year as your seed stock. So this can still be a frugal purchase if you think long-term. Buy from a reputable vendor; you don't want to start out with diseased bulbs.
Garlic has been a remarkably trouble-free crop for me. I wish I'd started growing it sooner. It seems to appreciate a heavy mulch layer immediately after it's planted, as it can't compete with weeds very well. In the spring time some varieties will produce edible scapes, or seed head stalks. When still small, these curly, tender, green shoots are most welcome as one of the earliest of spring harvests. They're wonderful in pasta dishes and stir-fries. And they're a treat because they're very rarely available in markets. Garlic keeps very well, which means you can eat it for months after you harvest it, provided you don't gobble it all in a few weeks. Overall, garlic requires very little effort or space to grow and is a good candidate for beginner gardeners. Exactly when you should sow your garlic will depend on your climate zone and what general type of garlic you want to grow. But the sowing dates are coming up fast.
So if you haven't already lined up your garlic planting needs, get on it now!