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Recession Gardening


In straightened circumstances I need to cut our food bills (who doesn’t) but I cannot decide where to put my efforts this year. Last year I reckon my tomatoes came in at about £20 a pound and the squash did not yield enough for a pan of soup.
What to you all rate as the best return for money and the easiest to grow?

I have grown all sorts in the past: potatoes, tomatoes (of course), cucumbers, peppers, squash, carrots, parsnips, peas and beans but apart from beans there are not too many crops that I could genuinely say are worth the effort from a money point of view. The taste is worth it, at least for me. The kids don’t seem to notice or care where the stuff comes from but I do.

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It is a tough question. I have found that it really isn't realistic to grow the things that are cheap in the grocery stores. For me that is potatoes and tomatoes and the local grown produce, like squash and cabbages and corn.
What is expensive for me to buy is greens for salads and cooking like spinach and lettuces and herbs.
So this is what I try to grow the most of, I also try to grow the things that are hard to get, like chili peppers and other ethnic vegetables.
What do you usually have to pass up at the produce counter because it is too expensive? Can you grow that? Is it sweet corn or eggplant(aubergine)or beans for you?
I try to grow my families favorites also, which is why I have lots of greens and lots of chili peppers each year. You might also like to look at some of my blogs about growing with the Sq Ft method which I started doing 2 years ago.

3 Feb, 2009


Thanks for that - you are right, salad is a terrible price for those tiny plastic bags that stink in about 2 hours! And the cost of a pot of basil is wicked in the extreme (I forgot herbs, I do grow lots of them), I think it should be a crime. What would be your punishment for such crimes? lol

I do have fruit trees but the birds seem to know when the cherries ripen; just before I reach them with my bowl they swoop down and eat the lot!

3 Feb, 2009


Oh yes! You might as well throw away your money, home grown salad taste much better! Buying the makings for a decent salad can be ridiculous! Much better to grow your own.
I have developed a way to have nice fresh crisp salad, I take my BIG metal bowl out and pick some leaves about mid morning, just one or two off each plant and then carry the full bowl inside, fill it with water and stir everything around. Leave it for 5 mins to let the dirt settle to the bottom and then lift out the leaves, do not pour off the water,cause that is where the dirt is. Lay the leaves on a clean towel to dry slightly. 15-20 mins later put a clean dry towel or paper towel into a large plastic storage bag and put the lettuce on top of it. Put it in the fridge and by dinner time it is nice and crisp and clean!
My grandmother grew cherries and she used to net her trees! That stopped some of the birds, but it sure was a pain getting it up there!

3 Feb, 2009


I always grow my own tomatoes and cucumbers but of course they are very reasonable to buy in the shops in the summer. I probably break even but to taste and smell home grown toms for me is priceless, Mmmmm

3 Feb, 2009


I would certainly agree about the salad veggies. The price of lettuce is ridiculous. I always grow tomatoes but not because of the price. Just because there is no comparison to the taste of home grown tomato....I would have to say the same for cucumbers. Up here, the price of sweet bell peppers is outrageous. I will grow them but usually only in the greenhouse. I never seem to have much luck with ones grown in the garden.
Home grown, freshly picked sweet corn is wonderful but I find that the yield doesn't really make up for the amount of space you need to grow them. Peas and beans certainly produce tons compared to the cost of pushing a few plants in.

3 Feb, 2009


I reckon to be self suffcient in soft fruit - rhubarb, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and blackberries. If any of these give a poor harvest, I spend a couple of hours at the nearest Pick-Your-Own farm (or a hedgerow for the blackberries). Much cheaper than getting tasteless fruit out of season from the supermarket

3 Feb, 2009


we grow lots of tomatoes , but only in the greenhouse. so this year we are experimenting with 'patio' type toms as well , be interesting to see the yield. also runner beans and courgettes.excess toms / courgettes are made into soup and stuck in the freezer.we also grow carrotts, lettuce, cabbages, beetroot , a few maincrop spuds and squashes. all of which tastes so much better than the shop bought stuff.maybe you can get together with a neighbour and swop seeds or swop on here.
i think salad crops for the summer would save the most money.runner beans as well , they are very expensive.
winter time , how about cabbages and parsnips.......................steve

3 Feb, 2009


Andrewr's idea of a Pick your own Farm is a good suggestion. I have 2 that I visit at least twice a year. I also have a standing order with a co-op. I get a basket once a week May -Oct from a group of farmers near here. Usually has 4-6 different fruits and vegs. Plus I visit an organic dairy and a goat farm about 100 miles north of here in S Carolina, because their cheeses are cheaper. There are ways to still eat well and not pay a fortune, it just takes some work!

3 Feb, 2009


As said before, a really good question, like most of us you probably need about 10 acres to be able to grow what you want!! But I have got on really well in the past with most dwarf varieties, they yield well without taking up so much room. Also growing crops that 'double up' help, like beetroot, carrots, spinach etc, these can be part of a salad or cooked. Works for me, hope i've been of some help. Happy planting.

3 Feb, 2009


Thank you all so much for all this advice. I am working myself up for the GREAT PLAN - I am checking out all the seed catalogues to find out what they have deals on at the moment. I will keep you posted about any bargains I find; who keeps seeds from your own harvest? I have kept tomatoes, beans, peas and peppers and some do OK but I do like to get something different.

3 Feb, 2009


Hello Mctavish......Welcome to GoY. :o)

GM ~ I have saved seeds from my own veggies but I'm like you and like to try different things.

4 Feb, 2009


Looking through seed catalogues is inspirational and a fun way to enjoy some leisure time but I find the most economical way of adding viable seeds to my collection is to make my purchases at Wilkinsons or similar ( I shall miss Woolworth this year). Ok, so their 'own' range of seed varieties is limited but they are cheaper than most. I don't feel so guilty if the crop fails either.

8 Feb, 2009


My two best value for money crops I think are my sweet peppers and onions. Both are really easy to grow. Last year I grew 5 pepper plants (which cost about £3.50 for the lot as young plants or you could grow them from seed) I used them fresh as I needed them but there were far too many to use. SO I did a quick google, found out how to blanch and store them in the freezer and I am STILL using them! Just from 5 plants remember! Peppers at tescos right now are about 85p each and I would have bought one most weeks, so I think I've done pretty darn well with those!!

Onions - last year I bought two bags of 50 sets each for about £2.50 each, so let say £5 for 100 sets. Well, I use A LOT of onions in my cooking and I am only about half way through the 100 onions I grew! They only took up about 2.5 m2 and are very easy to grow.

I also still have cauliflower in the freezer from last summer :-)

9 Feb, 2009


BTW if you look at pages 2 & 3 of my photos on my page you can see my 'produce' :-)

9 Feb, 2009

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