Growing a Good-for-You, Good-for-Your-Wallet Garden

There are many benefits to growing your own food: you know where your food comes from, it’s fresher, it traveled zero miles to get to your plate, and you have the added benefit of more physical activity from tending your garden. Another big benefit is saving money, but since we can only grow a limited supply, we wondered what plants would save the most money. Here’s what we found the most frugal gardeners should grow:

Tomatoes

With a long growing season and typically high yield from each tomato plant, these plants a garden must-have. Experts suggest that heirloom cherry tomatoes may yield the most bang for your buck. Plus they’re delicious to eat straight off the vine.

Squash/Zucchini

While these plants don’t produce for very long, when they are ready to pick, you should ready your baskets for a lot of produce. Consider freezing squash and zucchini for use throughout the year as these can be quite expensive in the off-season.

Leaf Lettuce

Salad greens are among the most expensive produce to buy in a store. If you’re a big salad eater, try planting romaine lettuce which has a high yield.  Or if you like arugula and spinach for recipes, consider growing your own. These plants often produce leafy greens until the first frost.

Herbs

Buying herbs from the store are expensive when compared to the high yield that a single herb plant can produce. Often herbs are easy to grow (in a garden bed or a container), smell great and are easy to incorporate into most meals. A special bonus: some herbs can be grown indoors year-round in containers, so for little gardening effort you can spice up your cooking for a long time.

Peppers

If you like your food hot but don’t like paying steep prices for these specialty peppers, consider growing your own. You can freeze the extra yield so that you always have a stash of your favorite peppers.

As economical as these choices are, they’re not going to save you money if you don’t actually like eating these types of produce. Most importantly, choose to grow plants that you eat a lot of. Helpful charts will help determine the savings you can generate from common garden plants. Happy gardening (and saving!).