Green Living

The best vegetables and herbs to grow to save money

Growing produce at home instead of buying it from a supermarket is good for both your nutrition and your wallet.

Growing organic produce at home rather than buying it from a market or supermarket makes financial as well as nutritional sense. Where time and space are at a premium, concentrate on growing crops that are expensive to buy but that you enjoy eating.

Choose crops that are quick to produce and don’t take up lots of room for the amount of food they generate. If you don’t have a backyard, there are plenty of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you can grow in pots and containers.

Which crops are the most cost-effective to grow? 
The cheapest vegetables to buy are the ones that take the longest to crop. Potatoes, carrots, brown onions and cabbage are cheap to buy but growing them at home means giving over a large amount of garden for four to six months. In a small garden filling beds with spuds and cabbages leaves no room to grow other crops.

On the flip side, crops that are more expensive to buy tend to be those that are costly for the farmer to harvest such as snow peas. Often these are the very crops that take up little room in a garden compared with the amount they produce over many weeks.

Most vegetables spike in price as they move in and out of season, meaning we pay more when the crop first hits the market than later in the season when it’s abundant. Growing early season varieties for an early harvest saves money compare with buying the same produce at a premium in the shops.

To reduce growing costs, sow seeds (cheaper than buying seedlings or advanced plants) and use locally sourced organic mulch and fertiliser using homemade composts, worm wee and weed teas. Using tank water cuts water costs and is better for the environment.

Avoid crops that attract pests 
Insect pests, diseases and weeds are expensive to control, so grow crops or varieties that are resistant to disease or rarely troubled by pests. Practice good garden hygiene, track early signs of pest problems and do lots of hand weeding.

Which homegrown herbs and veggies will save the most money? 
If you’ve thrown away sludgy bunches of herbs from the bottom of the fridge, then you’ll know the savings to be made plucking sprigs from the garden as needed rather than buying them from the supermarket. Herbs are easy to grow either in a garden or a pot. Good starters are basil, chives and parsley.

Vegetables that are expensive but are eaten regularly include beans, broad beans, broccoli, cucumber, lettuce (soft-hearted varieties), silverbeet, snow peas, spinach, tomato (cherry tomatoes are the easiest) and zucchini. Grow these at home to save money and have plenty of veggies on hand for your family.

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