Spring is here and it’s time to decide what you will plant in your garden this year. Having your own garden of vegetables can save you some serious money. According to a study from The National Gardening Association, the average family with a vegetable garden spends just $70 a year on it and grows an estimated $600 worth of vegetables. To have this type of return on investment, it’s important to pick the right vegetables to grow and to know the right time to plant them. I found this chart guide for Virginia but you can use it as a guide to create one for your own area based on your last killing frost date. For most of the country, though, one common thread is that certain vegetables make the most sense to grow. Let’s dig a little deeper and look at the top three cost effective vegetables to plant this season.
Lettuce will grow wherever grass will grow in your yard, making it a pretty easy crop to grow. The cost for a bunch of lettuce at the grocery store is usually somewhere around $2. If you buy a $2 package of seeds instead, you will recover the loss within weeks and be able to enjoy lettuce for six to eight months of the year (it’s an easy crop to spread out and harvest continually, both in Spring and Fall).
#2 Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers are also easy to grow. They are typically started in small pots and then transplanted when it’s warm enough outside. You can also typically find small plants on sale early in the season. As the plants grow early on, you will want to pick off any small peppers or its growth will be stunted. Also, you should pick the peppers as soon as they reach size in order to stimulate new growth. The average yield of a pepper plant is 12 peppers per season. With the average cost of a bell pepper at the grocery store being $2 per pepper, this plant definitely offers a nice return.
Tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown vegetables in home gardens, and they also have one of the biggest returns on investment. At this point, it may be too late in the season to start from seeds (this should be done eight weeks ahead of the last frost), but don’t worry. You can still start with seedlings from a local nursery, and you will likely be able to choose form multiple varieties. Tomato plants are a good choice because they are able to grow in smaller spaces and are able to survive and produce fruit in harsher conditions. If you buy local starter plants they will likely be perfect for the climate you live in. They need plenty of sunshine and need to be protected from wind and scorching heat. Tomatoes at the grocery store usually range from $2-4 per pound. One tomato plant, depending on your growing method, can yield eight to 20 pounds and can usually be purchased for just a few dollars.
Others to consider
Some other crops to consider, if you have the time and space, are herbs, squash, cucumbers and broccoli. Herbs, such as garlic, basil, rosemary and mint can be grown in pots or used as ground cover.
Regardless of what you grow, having your own vegetables is not only cost effective; it’s also convenient. You can just walk in your back yard and pick healthy foods that are the foundation for good meals and are much cheaper than their grocery store equivalents.
If you have a green thumb but are low on green in your wallet, Clearpoint can help you figure out a budget to get you on the right path to financial health. Try our free budget calculator or consider getting started with our free budget and credit counseling program.