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So what veggies do you actually save money by growing?

(14 Posts)
snorkle Wed 06-Aug-08 21:48:23

I was thinking about this this afternoon. I grow quite a few veg, but mostly not in huge quantities and although it's lovely to have fresh veg when I do I don't think most of them save me that much money. I'd be really interested to know what crops people think save them money and which they just like to grow as they taste better and which just don't seem to work very well.

My thoughts are below if you are interested(warning very long):

Tomatoes. These have just started cropping this week and will be over by the end of September. Say 9 or 10 weeks season max, 2 weeks of which I'll be away so the neighbours will benefit rather than me. Now I usually spend about £1 a week on toms, so will save about £8. But the seeds cost £2.50 and the growbags £2.50, So although I'm getting more and tastier toms, I'm only saving £3 and that's ignoring cost of any pots/compost used to start them off and cost of water (metered, though mostly comes from the butt) to water them.

Peppers - just one so far from 3 plants! Not really worth it.

Melons - 1 so far from 4 plants and looks like 1 more on the way. Seeds expensive and used 2 growbags - not worth it (but the first was delicious and I've never eaten a melon within 3 mins of picking it before)

butternut squash plants (2) last year produced 2 avocado sized fruit between them last year and it looks as though I'll only get one (hopefully slightly bigger one) this year. It's the same seed packet, but I still don't think I've recouped the cost of the packet yet.

This year I tried a new (much more expensive) squash variety: Crown Prince. Cost about £5 for 5 seeds (I know, I'm mad). I was supposed to get 4-5 large squashes with good storage ability from each plant, but one didn't germinate and the others look as though they'll only produce one fruit each (if that as they look like the plants are getting mildew). It remains to be seen how large they'll be or indeed if they'll rot away, but even 4 fruits for £5 doesn't seem a huge bargain.

Lettuce does seem like a good deal, I've had a good supply and not had to buy one since May and the seeds aren't expensive either. Must have saved a fair bit there.

Carrots are going well too, but I didn't grow all that many (probably a couple of months worth) and I usually only buy fairly cheap ones in any case so saving isn't huge, but worth growing for taste alone.

Courgettes: I use a couple a week and the plants have provided that (Not much more), but only over a fairly short time. They seem to have powdery mildew now, so if the dilute milk I sprayed them with today doesn't fix them the season may be over for this year). Probably just about worthwhile though - actually definitely worthwhile as they were last years seeds.

Onions seem good - I buy sets for about £3 and usually produce about 3 months supply which seems good value (though a bag of value onions is very cheap for loads).

I've never had much success with brassicas or sweetcorn on either quantity or quality, so lose money on cabbage, brocolli and cauli (get one or two poor specimens of each if I'm lucky a year), but I'm trying PSB this time so perhaps that will be better. I always love the idea of homegrown sweetcorn, but it never usually germinates properly.

Rhubarb is excellent value - more and more comes up year after year.

I've grown swedes, parsnips, celeriac and leeks this year for the first time, but it's too early to say if these are a success or not.

RambleOn Wed 06-Aug-08 21:53:14

Sorry, never done many veggies, so can't really comment.

Fruit though, blueberries, raspberries, blackcurrants very cost effective (extortionate prices and flown in from Peru usually)

MsHighwater Wed 06-Aug-08 21:54:28

Wow! Have you factored in the money you might have spent during the time you have spent in your garden looking after all these crops!

I'm impressed. I've never really thought it out in detail like that. We grow strawberries (they came with the house), potatoes (didn't need to buy any between mid-August and Christmas last year), onions (first time this year) and a couple of other things that didn't come to much. We have rhubarb crowns that give about a crumble's worth every couple of weeks during its season.

We just do it for the satisfaction of producing our own stuff. It's the ultimate in local food, after all.

RambleOn Wed 06-Aug-08 21:55:34

Do you grow them organically? If so, you should be comparing prices like for like with organic ranges in supermarket.

Will no doubt give much more encouraging figures smile

bythepowerofgreyskull Wed 06-Aug-08 21:58:45

we eat loads of toms and courgettes and green beans
I grow loads of toms courgettes and green beans

I THINK we save money as the cost of the quantities we grow are £7.35 according to sainsbury's website per week. across the summer months we will have saves some.

BigBadMousey Wed 06-Aug-08 22:22:27

Don't forget to factor in money saved on gym membership. There's nothing like a bit of good old double digging to get you fit smile.

I never buy seed . I just let one plant run to seed each year and save that for the next year - saves lots of £s.

I think you'll find the parsnips the same as carrots - worth growing for taste alone. We made lots of Parsnip and Parmesan soup last year - very nice.

We grow crops either for taste (i.e. better than shop / market offerings), economy (i.e cheaper to grow your own than buy) or because they are hard to find in the shops.

Have you considered growing Kale (I know it is a brassica but it ones of the easy ones to grow) or Swiss Chard / Leaf Beet? Chard is fantastic - two veggies in one. Both are cut-and-come-again crops so you get lots for your money - especially the chard which you can crop over two years (you need never run out!). It is worth looking into buying plug plants of both these because you don't need that many plants for a whole family - makes it much more cost effective and less time consuming.

Watercress is well worth trying - V expensive in the shops but surprisingly easy to grow (nice soup too).

Personally I prefer growing my own food - it just feels right to me - there are many ways to make it cheap to do. You could have saved lots of money on your tomato crop alone if you had sown seed saved from your previous crop (or even a decent tomato from the supermarket), not bothered with a growbag and started the seeds off in an old yoghurt pot.

You definitely save money growing your own fruit - esp raspberries, balckcurrants etc. They are expensive in the shops even when they are in season. This year I got an crop worth about £20 from one blackcurrant bush and whats more I have taken 4 cuttings from the same bush so in following years I will have more crops for free. Cuttings went into own home-made compost in big yoghurt tubs.

ilovemydog Wed 06-Aug-08 22:26:36

Am reading this thread with interest!

Just got an allotment - ok, well half a plot, but still...

For an absolute beginner, how difficult are globe artichokes to grow?

ten10 Wed 06-Aug-08 22:31:40

Rocket was the best thing that I have grown this year,
bumper crop, which I sowed very thick and started to pick to thin it out, tasted so good even from tiny leaves.

other mixed salad leaves have also been great and have definitely saved us money.

BigBadMousey Wed 06-Aug-08 22:41:19

ilovemydog - get the soil right for your globes and you'll be away. You can propogate them easily too once they have got eastablished.

I highly recommend 'grow your own' magazine. It is fantastic for beginners and intermediates, got a very good allotment section too and gives you good idea of what you should be doing each month and (more importantly) how to do it. grin

OldGregg Wed 06-Aug-08 22:57:42

Potatoes - but you have to grow a lot of them.

Apples - we have an orchard. Cherries too if I net the trees before the birds eat them all.

Soft fruit crops heavily and can be frozen, made into jam etc.

Courgettes, cucumbers, peas & beans are very economic. As are herbs & salad.

We usually get 'accidental' pumpkin patches on old bonfire sites or compost heaps. Last year we had about 30 pumpkins! We don't like eating them but it does save buying them for Hallowe'en carving. I do toast the seeds though.

ilovemydog Thu 07-Aug-08 08:09:13

Thanks Big Bad, is it true that globe artichokes are bi annually? I am total beginner here. Am thinking potatoes, rocket, herbs and onions as don't want to get overwhelmed first year (oh, and got Thirsties for DD - love them!)

LazyLinePainterJane Thu 07-Aug-08 08:22:02

Well, with the tomatoes, what I am planning to do next year is go bigger scale. I bought a load of seeds from the car boot sake for 20p a packet. I figured I will grow loads, and use the surplus to make into pasta sauces and freeze them, or freeze the tomatoes whole to put in casseroles and the like.

Not sure about the scale of onions, I have grown a few this year just to try. But my mum has grown about 90 and she says that will do her for most of the year, you dry them and string them up and they keep fine. Obviously you need the space.

snorkle Thu 07-Aug-08 09:50:29

Interesting - I like the idea of factoring in saved gym membership!! I've not attempted to factor in time spent as like others I do it largly for fun and because it feels right. I was really just musing whether or not it did actually save much money since there's been a lot of talk on here about saving money buy growing your own veg. and while I do think you can, I also think you have to be quite selective about what you grow & what extras you buy. My veg are organic, but I don't usually buy organic food from the shops, so although I'm not comparing like for like, I am looking at what it saves me.

Saving seeds is something I should try - good tip thanks BigBadMousey. Have to be careful about f1 hybrids though.

Extras like cloches, horticultural fleece and netting all adds up. I bought a £20 cloche this year (quite cheap as these things go) & some fleece last year. I really need netting to stop my brassicas being munched by caterpillars as well). I use 2L drinks bottles cut in half as single plant protectors in spring and haven't bought pots for seedling ever as I re-use old ones or improvise. I do need to buy a tray or two for the windowsill to stand the seedling pots in for next year though.

If you buy things like custom made raised beds or potato pots (rather than using dustbins or creating your own beds out of bits and pieces) then I think it would take years and years to recoup the costs.

I do grow Kale and spinach beet and those work quite well, though we don't eat all that much of them. It's not something I buy at all if I don't grow it, so I doubt it saves much.

Potatoes I just don't have room for - when/if I get an allotment (name is on waiting list) I shall grow them.

I can see that the soft fruit is higher value too. I shall try some next year - where is best to get (cheap) plants and do you need to net them to keep the birds off? I have loads of birds in my garden.

BigBadMousey Thu 07-Aug-08 14:51:53

ilovemydog - globe artichokes are perennial. They have a 3ft spread so they need space - to get the best crop they need somewhere sunny and sheltered. They don't like heavy or wet soils at all - if you plant them in that kind of soil they'll rot over the winter like mine did sad.

According to my organic bible you need to water them well until established then mulch with hay or compost. Protect them from frost with straw which you should remove in spring before growth starts up again. They have a productive life of 3-4 years so you need to propogate them by taking offsets in the april of the third year.

Think you should add some courgettes and runner beans to your list if you like them - pretty easy to grow and you should get a good crop. Just thinking back to two years ago when we had a bad year for blight and I lost all my potatoes - if that heppened to you you'd lose most of your crops. You can start making a runner bean trench now - you just dig a trench (30cm deep and 60cm wide min and as long as you like) and chuck in some kitchen scraps, grass clippings - anything you'd add to a compost heap - when you get a layer of scraps etc you cover it with a little bit of soil then add more scraps etc finishing off witha layer if soil. You plant your beans into the trench and get bumper crops grin

Glad you like the Thirsties smile

snorkle - I think you'd be best off netting your fruit crops - I lost nearly all my strawberries to one blackbird once -I'd be harvesting at one end and he'd be hopping about the other end trying to look all innocent with his beak covered in strawberry juice grin. I'm planning on building a fruit cage on my next plot.

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