Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

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Caduceus
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Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Caduceus » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:54 am

I would like to start a modest food growing project. I only want to grow things that are relatively expensive to buy at stores but which yet are easy to care for at home. The primary goal is to save on costs. What type of plants would you recommend?

Off the top of my mind, I think herbs would probably come close to the top of the list since they are expensive to purchase. Any other suggestions?

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by DaftInvestor » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:21 am

Inside or outside? Do you have space for a large outside garden? Also, for outside, depends upon what region you live in. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, ..., can all be easily grown for cost savings (and perhaps enjoyment).

Chip
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Chip » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:35 am

Herbs are a very good idea for the reason you cite. Plus they don't seem to have as many pests as vegetable crops.

I'm not much of a gardener. My forays into gardening have always produced extremely expensive vegetables. And that was valuing my time at my regular retirement rate of $.02/hr. I just buy at the store or farm stand now. But we do have herbs as they seem to survive the regular neglect they receive.

IowaFarmBoy
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by IowaFarmBoy » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:39 am

Maybe bell peppers. They usually aren't cheap and are easy to grow. At least here in the midwest.

billyt
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by billyt » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:44 am

I am an avid gardener, raising an extensive variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as my own poultry for the table and eggs. My experience is that raising your own food will cost you 2-3 times what you can buy it for in the local grocery store. It is not possible to beat the economies of scale of commercial agriculture. Of course the quality of home grown food is vastly superior, so it is not apples to apples. There are lots of great reasons to grow your own food. Saving money is not one of them.

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Krischi
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Krischi » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:49 am

There are some high-value plants, especially tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, garlic, leeks, fava beans and cucumbers. With these you have a chance to get enough yield for the space to be competitive with grocery stores. Also some herbs as mentioned above.

However, cost savings can be tricky to achieve. If I were you I’d reorient myself and grow stuff primarily for enjoyment. The taste and smell of freshly-picked ripe produce is incomparable. You can also grow things that are hard to find because they don’t store and transport well, such as specific heirloom or hybrid tomato varieties (try Sungold or Cherokee Purple).

Seeds are inexpensive, but you’ll have some significant startup costs for plant support structures to maximize space and minimize disease. Ditto for lights and trays for indoor seed starting. While you don’t need special growing lights, you’ll have upfront costs for fluorescent or LED shop lights and mounting hardware. You’ll also need a soil test, mulching materials, and possible amendments if the soil test finds the pH or nutrients are out of whack.

You’ll eventually need fertilizer, because growing produce that is picked and consumed depletes the soil even if you compost everything else. That carries a cost, too.

Lastly, If you have any kind of deer pressure or pest problems, which is very common, you’ll either sacrifice yield or pay for remedies. All of these easily can end up making your own garden more expensive per pound than the store.

So again, my advice, is not to think about the cost but rather about doing what you enjoy.

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Tamarind
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Tamarind » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:55 am

I generally agree with Billy and Krischi. A couple of candidates you could try doing the math for...

Fruiting plants that work in your area as fruit is pretty expensive per pound, and a perennial will spread the cost of the plant over time. I grow figs and blueberries. Cane fruits (blackberries/raspberries) are a good candidate in some climates.

Or you could pick a vegetable which produces prolifically so that you could actually replace all store purchases of it. That would be tomatoes, squash, beans, cabbage, peppers. But you'll want to learn to preserve these vegetables to avoid waste as you can't eat it all fresh right when it's ripe. You'll get the best bang for your buck if you use non-hybrid seed and learn to save your own seed so that you don't have that cost each year.

Besides your region, the other determinant of whether this would work is how much land you have available. A couple of beds won't cut it. Plus it's a part time job on top of whatever you do for work. But while growing your own food isn't cheaper, it is rewarding in other ways.

livesoft
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by livesoft » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:04 am

Marijuana and other drug crops.

I don't see you saving money on actual food plants. Our grocery stores have superb vegetables so cheap it is ridiculously. Since I chat with the folks in the produce section, they routinely tell me something like "Take these serrano peppers and tell the cashier that 'Steve says not to charge for them.'"
Last edited by livesoft on Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dekecarver
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by dekecarver » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:06 am

Saving money, No.
Better taste, Yes.

IMOP there is no store bought tomato that can beat a vine ripe tomato freshly picked from you own plant.

For veggies that are easy to plant, grow and harvest: cucumbers, green beans, peppers, carrots, leaf lettuce, and maybe tomatoes.

Also canning is not cheap in $ or time; better to freeze what you can.

Also check out readings on square yard gardening if not already done.

livesoft
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by livesoft » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:10 am

Something that might be fun is foraging for wild plants, nuts, fruits in your area that you can use in your meals and snacks.
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tenkuky
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by tenkuky » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:19 am

livesoft wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:04 am
Marijuana and other drug crops.

I don't see you saving money on actual food plants. Our grocery stores have superb vegetables so cheap it is ridiculously. Since I chat with the folks in the produce section, they routinely tell me something like "Take these serrano peppers and tell the cashier that 'Steve says not to charge for them.'"
I need to chat with my produce gals more!😀

mega317
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mega317 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:20 am

Cilantro and parsley. I only ever use a fraction of what you buy and it doesn't last that long. And so much better.

mouses
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mouses » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:35 am

If you pay attention to what you are spending, you can minimize costs.

For example, I have been growing vegetables for many years and have never done a soil test.

I have a compost pile (leaves, kitchen waste), so no need to buy additional fertilizer.

Potatoes love growing in the compost pile, so start by buying some organic (so not treated with a sprouting inhibitor) potatoes of a variety you like, toss them in the compost pile, leave some in there when you harvest and you will have a permanent potato patch. Some other plants, like butternut squash, like compost piles.

You can save seeds from some plants so less need to actually buy seeds. If the plants are not hybrids, they will probably be true to the original. If they are hybrids, it is fun to see what happens. Trade seeds for free via various online forums.

Your labor is free. After all, no one is paying you for that time.
Cucumbers are prolific, but you have to carefully look for them. Miss one for a short time and it turns into a giant less good tasting cucumber.

No garden should be without heirloom tomatoes.

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mrc
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mrc » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:47 am

I have grown crops to obtain particular varieties of produce and herbs/spices that are difficult to impossible to find locally. I've grown for better quality (think grocery store cannon ball tomatoes). But never to save money. I found tending a garden doesn't save all that much money, especially given the time commitment. The weeds, weather, diseases, pests, deer, and other vermin won't let you be as successful as you fantasize in February cold.
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ramsfan
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by ramsfan » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:07 am

Whether this is cost effective or not, I love it when my wife grows herbs. She does well with Cilantro, basil, rosemary, etc... I HATE paying 3-4 bucks for those small packs of fresh herbs, so when we can go clip off exactly what is needed, it is awesome. Plus, fresh herbs taste better than dried, and don't take much space or equipment to grow.

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LiveSimple
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by LiveSimple » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:08 am

You can grow and consume. Cost as others said will be high, but worth the enjoyment

Tomatoes cut and freeze and can use for many months
Mint, cilantro purée and freeze
Onion dry well and store
Squash, zuciini, give it to friends
Greens eat daily, cut and freeze
Peas eat it off, freeze
Beans eat and cut and store
Pumpkin carve it out
Anything exotic grow and eat

Nate79
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Nate79 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:16 am

Maybe mushrooms. They are so expensive.

Caduceus
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Caduceus » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:17 am

Thanks for the suggestions!

Most plants grow in nature without any extra care, right? They get water if it rains, and none if it doesn't. No human ever touches the majority of plants and yet they survive. I guess I had a fantasy of just planting things and leaving them alone, for the most part, apart from fertilizing them and harvesting them. :D

Here's what I am currently thinking of growing that I think will save costs.

Saffron: Costs $1,500 per pound and the flowers multiply rapidly and are supposedly hardy and easy to care for.

Vanilla Bean: About $50 per pound. Apparently requires manual pollination but otherwise doesn't seem too difficult?

I was researching if it's possible to grow truffles but that sounds way too complicated.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Shallowpockets » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:20 am

Growing things is a great retirement activity. But, not for cost savings.
You do it for fun. You do it for taste.
Try it. Keep records. See what your costs are. Most assuredly if you are just starting you will have costs beyond which you thought.
All that you grow will be available in your store and locally because it will be seasonal. Seasonal is always the cheaper produce in stores. Since your local season will align with the same seasons at your local store there will be no scarcity premium on what you grow.
Best bet would be an herb garden. You can buy them already potted and seeded and all you have to do is water and wait.
Vegetable growing is like having children (feed, water, care for) excepting in the off season you have a break. Or, if you go on vacation, you can just leave them.

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LiveSimple
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by LiveSimple » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:26 am

Caduceus wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:17 am
Thanks for the suggestions!

Most plants grow in nature without any extra care, right? They get water if it rains, and none if it doesn't. No human ever touches the majority of plants and yet they survive. I guess I had a fantasy of just planting things and leaving them alone, for the most part, apart from fertilizing them and harvesting them. :D

Here's what I am currently thinking of growing that I think will save costs.

Saffron: Costs $1,500 per pound and the flowers multiply rapidly and are supposedly hardy and easy to care for.

Vanilla Bean: About $50 per pound. Apparently requires manual pollination but otherwise doesn't seem too difficult?

I was researching if it's possible to grow truffles but that sounds way too complicated.

Good thought on saffron, you may have to move to a climate where saffron will grow.
Read some gardening books or websites.
Last edited by LiveSimple on Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

Shallowpockets
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Shallowpockets » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:32 am

Saffron, vanilla beans, and truffles!!!!!!!!!!

JoeRetire
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by JoeRetire » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:05 am

Caduceus wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:54 am
The primary goal is to save on costs. What type of plants would you recommend?
I recommend growing whatever it is that you actually eat which fits your other criteria.
For example, you could grow artichokes or asparagus simply because they are expensive (see: https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ ... egetables/), but unless you like them, it would be a waste of money.

I like to grow vegetables that taste distinctly better from the garden versus the produce department. For me, tomatoes and cucumbers are best.
I also like to grow things that are handy when harvested in small portions. For me, that means herbs.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by JoeRetire » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:11 am

livesoft wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:10 am
Something that might be fun is foraging for wild plants, nuts, fruits in your area that you can use in your meals and snacks.
When my wife decides to retire and we move to our retirement home in Maine, I plan to take a course or two for that.

My grandfather used to come from his house in the city to our suburban house and forage. Mushrooms, wild strawberries, dandelions, etc, etc. I wish he were still around to teach me the art.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:16 am

If you use fresh herbs, then that's a great bang for the buck. They grow easily from seed, and the product in the stores is expensive for many varieties. However, dried herbs aren't very expensive, so if that's what you're using it won't save much.

Snow peas and snap peas are another thing that are expensive but easy to grow, but they have a limited season.

Really the best thing for me is tomatoes, because the result is substantially better than is available at the supermarket. Your results will depend on local weather and pests.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by JoeRetire » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:18 am

Caduceus wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:17 am
Most plants grow in nature without any extra care, right? They get water if it rains, and none if it doesn't. No human ever touches the majority of plants and yet they survive. I guess I had a fantasy of just planting things and leaving them alone, for the most part, apart from fertilizing them and harvesting them.
Most plans grown in nature aren't harvested and eaten by humans.
Sometimes they grow, sometimes they don't.

Take a walk in a field or forest some time and see if you find something edible. You won't find any tomatoes or bell peppers.
Look up what wild maize (corn) looked like before it was domesticated and you'll see what I mean.

I have a couple of blueberry bushes in my yard. Unless I do something special, virtually all of them are consumed by birds and other animals before they are ripe enough for my tastes. When the kids were young, I netted them and let the kiddos pick the berries. I don't bother any more.

Most of today's vegetable seeds aren't meant to be "no care". You might have a chat with a local horticulturalist to see if there is anything that would grow in your area under the conditions you are imagining. Maybe you'll find something you would like.

For example, in my part of the country, New Zealand Spinach grows like a weed and seems to tolerate little to no care. If you enjoy eating lots of dark, leafy vegetables, you might like it. My Dad used to grow it, but it kind of took over the garden and my siblings got sick of it, so he stopped.

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TinkerPDX
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by TinkerPDX » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:40 am

Unless you enjoy it enough that the time counts as R&R, not "work," then it's very unlikely this is possible. Industrial ag is just too cost-efficient.

But if you do enjoy it, and especially if you can do your own starts from seed, my experience is that you can produce enough that it's "worth it."

Herbs are the clear choice dollar for dollar. But you can only save as much as you spend on herbs.

As for veggies, tomatoes are easy, productive, and just way better than what you can get store bought, plus there are almost infinite varieties available. Potatoes are super easy and, while cheap at the store, very rewarding to harvest when you grow your own, and there are a lot more varieties available as seed than there are as potatoes at most groceries. Zucchini is super easy and will produce a ton. I've had a lot of fun with whatever your favorite squash is (I like acorn, butternut) as you can grow a bunch into late summer then eat them all winter long.

But for me, the real winner is berries of all kinds. Raspberries and blackberries/marionberries basically require fertilization and pruning yearly, and water in the summer, and then they produce year after year. Blueberries require good soil amendments (and maybe protection from birds depending on where you are) then they produce for decades. Strawberries spread well on their own. All of these sell for a premium when they are in season locally, especially if you're buying organic. Once you've got your plantings in, these may even "pencil" after accounting for the cost of your time in subsequent years. And you can freeze them for enjoyment all year round.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:53 am

Two years ago when I bought tomato plants they only had six-packs. My well-amended front garden with the fence and netting really only holds four plants. The other two I just stuck in the backyard at the sunniest places I could find. They grew much smaller than their favored siblings, produced few fruit, and the squirrels got most of what did grow.

For most food plants, soil and sun are the primary keys, along with protection. In the wild, a multitude of animals are interested in them. You only want yourself to benefit. Don't kid yourself that you can slap a few plants out and get a bunch of quality produce. Maybe herbs. Once they get going, you can end up with lots.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:00 am

I have a "brown" thumb so I chose not to torment plants with my care.
However, I have thought of hydroponics or aquaponics.
It can be done indoors with grow lights or outdoors in a greenhouse or protected environment.
Yield per square foot can be enormous.
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telemark
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by telemark » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:38 am

Caduceus wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:17 am
Most plants grow in nature without any extra care, right? They get water if it rains, and none if it doesn't. No human ever touches the majority of plants and yet they survive. I guess I had a fantasy of just planting things and leaving them alone, for the most part, apart from fertilizing them and harvesting them. :D
Survivorship bias :D

Plants grow where conditions are right for them. The hard part is reproducing those conditions for the plants you've decided you want.

mouses
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mouses » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:54 am

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:53 am
Two years ago when I bought tomato plants they only had six-packs. My well-amended front garden with the fence and netting really only holds four plants. The other two I just stuck in the backyard at the sunniest places I could find. They grew much smaller than their favored siblings, produced few fruit, and the squirrels got most of what did grow.
Give surplus plants away to the neighbors or at work. Or set up a trade, someone else gets too many cucumber seedlings, trade for your excess tomatoes.

Where I live, farmer's markets have seedling sales in the spring. They sometimes have the rarer plants like Brandywine tomatoes available.

OP, if you mulch, you can get away with watering less.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:21 am

I've usually gone to farmers market for summer vegetables. This year I plan to purchase vegetables through a local CSA (1/2share) I will get what is in season and try eating this way. I plan on a herb garden at my mom's - 2 miles away.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by MP173 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:43 am

The growing of vegetables is more of a hobby and enjoyment of fresh vegetables rather than cost savings. That being said:

About $2 in seed potatoes will yield enough potatoes to last from August to Thanksgiving.
Onion transplants (not sets) cost about $1 for 30. Invested $4 and we had massive quantity of onions.
I purchased garlic for planting a few years ago, paid about $2 per head (12 cloves per head). Each year I keep several heads and then plant and harvest about 90 garlic plants.
Spinach and lettuce seeds can be purchased for $2 per pack. Planting on a 2 week rotation will yield all the fresh salad needed at much better taste.
Carrots are a great investment in seeds/yield....taste is much better.
I paid $10 for 10 asparagus crowns four years ago. We eat asparagus from May thru late June and should for years.
One of my favorites to grow are pole beans. Again, a $2 pack of seeds will last a couple of years and yield beans for 2 months.
Snap peas - a great yield, but only in spring or extreme fall weather.
Tomato - My wife planted seeds inside and we transplanted - Roma which were then used to make sauce. Not exactly cheap when considering our labor, but we enjoy it.
Peppers in good years will be amazing.
I do not see great yields with cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage when compared to store costs, but grow them anyway.
She is also the chief herbmaster with cilantro, basil, thyme, lemon grass, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, dill, taragon, mint, chives.

There are costs involved - we use raised beds which was a one time investment in the lumber and hardware plus soil mixture. Also built "Fort Potato" which keeps all deer, rabbits, etc. out. Fort Potato has 7 foot fences and features high level of security!

Gardening grows on you. I am looking at seed catalogs now.

Ed

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mouses » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:05 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:21 am
I've usually gone to farmers market for summer vegetables. This year I plan to purchase vegetables through a local CSA (1/2share) I will get what is in season and try eating this way. I plan on a herb garden at my mom's - 2 miles away.
I've looked at CSAs, but for a single person they are unbelievably expensive.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:14 pm

Mints, they grow like weeds.
All kidding aside. I grow cherry tomatoes, smaller and tastier, easier to ripe because of small size fruit, green beans, squashes. I always have some kind of vegetables in my garden. The rest varieties are for fun. I do have lots of herbs, in fact they are part of my edible landscaping, rosemary, thyme, sage, etc..
I also have garlics and onions for corners that can grow anything easily, tuck a bulb in there and I will get something in a few months.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Kenkat » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:24 pm

Easiest for me to grow has been tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, bell peppers, jalapeños and banana peppers. They are almost guaranteed to produce fruit with just a little care in my experience.

I have had decent luck with broccoli, cilantro, and corn. But this is a little spotty - sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.

Usually, I end up with way more than I can actually eat.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by jimmo » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:36 pm

Well that's annoying, just finished typing up a whole long post about how cost effective growing certain vegetables and herbs are, but when I hit submit my login had timed out and system wanted me to log-in again. Once I did that, post was gone! Ughh! Is there a way to keep site from logging out after period of inactivity? Really annoying.

Anyhow, tomato seedlings can be purchased very cheaply and produce significant yields with minimal effort. And fresh tomatoes from your garden will taste 10 times better than the ones you get at the grocery store (picked green and artificially ripened).

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:44 pm

mouses wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:05 pm
Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:21 am
I've usually gone to farmers market for summer vegetables. This year I plan to purchase vegetables through a local CSA (1/2share) I will get what is in season and try eating this way. I plan on a herb garden at my mom's - 2 miles away.
I've looked at CSAs, but for a single person they are unbelievably expensive.

Yes they are expensive. But I want to try it anyway. I want fresh and in season. I want to cook.

Megacorp has worn me out and I haven't eaten well for years. Since I am retiring at beginning of March, I want start eating better. 1 summer of CSA won't hurt the budget too much.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by bumblebh » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:24 pm

Last year, I spent about $7 on seeds for tomatoes, beets and swiss chard. The chard went nuts, I had so much of it, I gave it away routinely and had plenty to enjoy several days per week and it was definitely worth the money for that item. I did not really tend to these either, minimal watering, weeding, etc. Tomatoes, didn't grow great, took forever, I had more green tomatoes at the end of the season that I harvested. The beets did okay, but not as good as I would have liked. For $7 with minimal time and energy, I was pleased with my produce.

Retired1809
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Retired1809 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:30 pm

Would be helpful to know your location and zone.

But imo, I'd recommend Swiss Chard. Google it.

BuckyBadger
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by BuckyBadger » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:41 pm

How much saffron can one family realistically consume??

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:47 pm

Saffron comes from the flower of Crocus bulb. They grow easily here in SoCal, but I bought a small saffron container for $20 and have not depleted it for a while now.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Smorgasbord » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:04 pm

Probably the most money will be saved on foods that are A) quickly perishable, B) picked by hand, and C) don't grow that well in most of Mexico. Peaches are a good option in my opinion. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries may also be good.

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dm200
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by dm200 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:10 pm

I had a backyard garden years ago. Some things grew well and some did not.

Things that did well for us - green beans, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes (sometimes), leaf lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes (sometimes), radishes eggplant (sometimes) horseradish.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by ralph124cf » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:27 pm

Caduceus wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:17 am
Thanks for the suggestions!

Most plants grow in nature without any extra care, right? They get water if it rains, and none if it doesn't. No human ever touches the majority of plants and yet they survive. I guess I had a fantasy of just planting things and leaving them alone, for the most part, apart from fertilizing them and harvesting them. :D

Here's what I am currently thinking of growing that I think will save costs.

Saffron: Costs $1,500 per pound and the flowers multiply rapidly and are supposedly hardy and easy to care for.

Vanilla Bean: About $50 per pound. Apparently requires manual pollination but otherwise doesn't seem too difficult?

I was researching if it's possible to grow truffles but that sounds way too complicated.
It is true that saffron is extremely expensive. That is due to the labor costs, not the raw material.

It takes approximately 4,000 saffron flowers to make one ounce of saffron. After harvesting the flowers, you must remove the red-orange stigmas from the flowers and dry them to get the finished saffron product. This is why saffron is only produced in low wage countries.

Ralph

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mouses » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:40 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:44 pm
mouses wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:05 pm
Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:21 am
I've usually gone to farmers market for summer vegetables. This year I plan to purchase vegetables through a local CSA (1/2share) I will get what is in season and try eating this way. I plan on a herb garden at my mom's - 2 miles away.
I've looked at CSAs, but for a single person they are unbelievably expensive.

Yes they are expensive. But I want to try it anyway. I want fresh and in season. I want to cook.

Megacorp has worn me out and I haven't eaten well for years. Since I am retiring at beginning of March, I want start eating better. 1 summer of CSA won't hurt the budget too much.
Try farmers' markets. Much cheaper, an enjoyable hour or so.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by mouses » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:42 pm

bumblebh wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:24 pm
I had more green tomatoes at the end of the season that I harvested.
Good for relish type things.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by dm200 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:44 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:10 pm
I had a backyard garden years ago. Some things grew well and some did not.

Things that did well for us - green beans, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes (sometimes), leaf lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes (sometimes), radishes eggplant (sometimes) horseradish.
One "problem" was that the zucchini was so productive we could not eat it all

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:46 pm

Some of my zucchini can be used for weapons. I have yet to get a chance to test them out. But I make ratatouille or stew when they get too big.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by dm200 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:55 pm

DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:46 pm
Some of my zucchini can be used for weapons. I have yet to get a chance to test them out. But I make ratatouille or stew when they get too big.
Yes ratatouille is ok -and can use the eggplant.

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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Seal the Deal » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:30 pm

As mentioned, perennials and herbs will give you the best bang for the buck.

Herbs can easily be grown in pots. Research has shown the closer that herbs are to your kitchen, the more they are used. Last fall instead of throwing the plants out, before the first freeze we separated leaf from stem for each plant and then froze them in olive oil. This has been used in cooking through the winter and tastes great.

Perennials that I have that are fairly hardy and easy to care for are strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, and blackberries. One time cost and they produce year after year. Blueberries fit this category but didn't grow well in our soil.

We grow a lot of other veggies for fun, flavor, and nutrition, but doesn't really save on food costs!

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