Want to save money on the family budget this year? Try growing your own vegetables – you’ll get more lbs for your pounds. Whether you want to grow vegetables in pots or your own patch, it’s possible to choose great varieties that will yield enough for many family meals. In this article we identify the best money‐savers for amateur growers!
Growing Vegetables in Pots
Generally speaking, most vegetables will perform best in the ground – they’ll get all the space they need, which gives the roots room to spread out. But if space is tight, you can still save money by growing a few vegetables in pots: on the balcony, patio, or even windowsill. Here are our top money‐savers for pots:
Saladini If you’ve plenty of space, go ahead and sow a row each of rocket, mustard and butterhead. But if you’re growing in a pot or trough, buy a packet of Saladini. You’ll get baby leaf salad of the type that can cost up to £1.80 to buy in the supermarket. Use quality compost and keep well watered for the best results. Saladini seeds (at £1‐£2 each) will yield several weeks’ worth of gourmet salad. Stagger the sowing (sprinkling half a line every fortnight) to get a long yield.
Tomatoes Tomatoes are expensive, but nutritious and versatile. Only grow tomatoes if you have a sheltered, sunny spot they particularly like to be grown against a south‐facing wall, which will retain heat during the day and release it at night! A packet of tomato seed should give you a healthy row of plants, and good care will ensure they yield at least a punnet‐full each. Choose quick‐ripening cherry tomatoes.
Herbs Herbs are also very expensive to buy at the grocer’s or supermarket. For the same price as a plastic‐wrapped bunch, you can buy a packet of 100 seeds that will yield an abundance of fresh herbs for cooking. Tender herbs like basil and coriander should be sown directly after the last frosts; give the seedlings lots of space by thinning, and pinch out the tips when they grow to about 15cm, to get bushy plants. Perennial rosemary, thyme and oregano are also good buys: buy young plants and allow them to get established before you start snipping.
Money‐saving Vegetables for your Patch
If you’re lucky enough to have some ground, make the most of it – even if it means digging up some flowers! Do this, and you can save money on expensive crops such as spinach and new potatoes: here are our top money‐savers for growing in the ground.
New Potatoes Maincrop potatoes take up a lot of space, and they’re not necessarily cheaper than buying from a grower or grocery. But new potatoes are extremely expensive in shops, and – after transportation and storage – their skins are often tougher than they ought to be. If you love new potatoes, you can save a lot of money by growing your own. A net of tubers costs around £4 and will supply you with several weeks’ worth (about 20x the original weight) of the freshest new potatoes. Prepare the ground and plant the potatoes in March or April; earth up once, and you needn’t do anything more. Once the flowers appear, you can begin harvesting!
Spinach A bag of organic spinach costs up to £2 in the supermarket. But this is one of the easiest, and most budget‐friendly, crops to grow at home – and a plot of spinach will supply your family with a huge number of delicious meals for a very long season. The cut‐and‐come‐again leaves make economical vegetarian lasagnes, lovely side dishes for the barbecue, or tasty salads.
Runner Beans A famous sight on British allotments! Runners are popular for very good reason. They give an incredible yield for weeks and weeks – and the fresh green beans are packed with vitamins. You can save money on greens for a long time by planting a row of runners. Chop, blanch and freeze any that you can’t eat, and you’ll be equipped with an economical dinner accompaniment for months. One packet of seeds (around £2) will give you a 6‐12′ double row, which will provide your family with an astonishing harvest of delicious green beans.