Want to save money by gardening? Start growing these 5 expensive foods to get more bang for your buck!
Guest post by Kendra Stamy of A Proverbs 31 Wife
We all know that gardening is an excellent way to save money, while still feeding your family high quality foods. But what do you grow when you have room for just a few plants?
You can grow these 5 expensive foods to save money:
1. Bell Peppers
Bright red, green and orange bell peppers are a flavorful addition to many dishes. Commercially grown peppers rarely sell for less than $1 each and organic peppers cost even more. Growing your own peppers just makes sense.
A packet of pepper seeds costs around a $1 if you want to start your own seedlings. A pepper plant will cost around $4 to $5.
We’ve grown these in containers with good results, and in the ground with great results. A single pepper plant is able to produce dozens of peppers during the growing season. I freeze my extra peppers for wintertime use.
Your local garden center will have the right varieties for your area, with the plants costing around $3 each on average. Three dollars can buy you four to five fresh tomatoes…or a plant that will produce ten times that amount!
Whether you plant in the ground or in containers, you will need to stake your tomatoes. Tomato cages run from $1.50-$10 each, or you can make your own tomato stakes.
You can expect to pay about $5-$10 per plant the first year, and much less the following years if you reuse pots and cages. This post explains just how much we save each year by planting tomatoes in our small garden.
Cool, crisp and refreshing–there’s just nothing like crunching into a fresh cucumber. Costing around a dollar each at the grocery, a cucumber plant can be grown for little more than the cost of a seed packet.
A 5-gallon bucket is the perfect container for cucumbers. Add a tomato cage for the cucumber to climb and be sure to water daily.
Have a chain-link fence? Clear a 10-inch diameter semi-circle in front of it and plant your seeds there. The cucumbers will climb right up! Just be sure to keep that semi-circle cleared of grass, and water if you encounter a dry spell of more than four or five days.
I have no idea how many cucumbers one plant will produce, but unless you want to make pickles, one to two plants will be all you need!
I recently learned that raspberries can be grown in pots. Growers produced these miniature berry plants called BrazelBerries which are perfect for container gardens. Look for them at your local garden center or order online.
My raspberries are the regular “cane” kind and we planted them on one side of our little garden shed. Just a small 2-foot by 15-foot area of raspberries produced so many berries last year, that we froze enough to fill two 1-gallon freezer bags. This was after we ate what we wanted and shared with the neighbors.
A raspberry plant costs $10 – $30 each. However, one plant will turn into many over the course of just a couple years, making them very cost effective for long-term growing. We planted two canes five years ago and I have to thin them each spring and fall now.
Raspberries are the perfect fruit for small backyards!
Strawberries are another perfect fruit for backyard growing. Plant them in hanging baskets, or specialized vertical pots. You could also create a pallet planter like this one for strawberries.
These delicious red berries grow in what was originally a flower bed at our house. Against a south wall where they get lots of bright warm sunshine, they produce the sweetest gems you can imagine.
While others are paying over a dollar per quart of chemical-covered berries, we are enjoying organically grown strawberries in our own backyard!
Strawberries come back year after year, and just a few $3 plants will totally take over the bed in two to three years.
What’s in common?
All of these plants have three things in common:
1. If you buy them commercially grown, they are covered in pesticides. In fact, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries and some tomatoes even made the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. Gardening is one way to eat organic for cheap.
2. With the exception of strawberries, these plants are vertical growers and take up very little ground space.
3. All of these plants are perfect for container gardens!
My family’s little garden measures 20 feet by 12 feet and we have learned how to make the most of our garden space over the past few years. Our raspberries are nestled against the shed, and strawberries took over a flower bed. We even nestled herbs right into our landscaping for a nice yet functional look.
No matter how much or little space you have, take advantage of it and grow something!
Do you want to really maximize your savings?
Having a large (as possible) garden is important to me. I grow and preserve as many fruits and vegetables as I can for the winter. We save $35 per month on average, just by having our own preserved foods.
Want to learn more about the basics of food preservation? Check out my eBook on Food Preservation for Beginners.
What will you be growing in your garden this year? Will you grow these 5 expensive foods to save money?
Here are more gardening posts on The Humbled Homemaker:
Growing up as the oldest of six kids in the beautiful countryside of the Ohio valley, Kendra is a country girl to the core. After marrying her fun loving hubby, they bought a little house in town and are saving for a home in the country. Fast forward 6+ years and Kendra is a busy nanny, and a mommy to the sweetest little boys.