Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

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

Post by FrankLUSMC » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:46 pm

JoeRetire wrote:
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.
Recommend, https://www.amazon.com/Stalking-Wild-As ... 0911469036

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

Post by Rainier » Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:53 pm

Marijuana.

Assuming it's legal in your state.

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patrick013
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by patrick013 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:20 pm

Had a dwarf Royalton cherry tree. Plenty of big cherries
and no pests. Only 5 foot tall.

Had a green apple tree as tall as a 2 story house. Have to
spray it every couple of years or the bugs take over.

Vegetables have alot of weeds. Weeds like fertilizer too I
guess.
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WhyNotUs
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by WhyNotUs » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:30 pm

Salad greens- easy to grow and daily eater. Organic ones are about $9 a lb here

Herbs- indoor or out and year around. May not be a huge saver since most people do not use fresh ones often, but it will make your dishes pop

Zucchini- prolific
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itstoomuch
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by itstoomuch » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:37 pm

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.
Wild rape/mustard is nearing its peak season now in the PNW.
As for the nuts and fruits. most people get turned off with fly larvae.
Also greening, dock, dandelion, watercress, are tender. Stay away from fields and drainage areas where geese frequent. Be sure you cook the produce,

You should have made friends with me. Santa Rosa, Yellow Transparent, Shiro, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Fuji, Asian Pears, Mulberry, Comice, Brooks and Italian Prunes, Blackberries, Wild Plums, Cherries, Blueberries. Clams (see Tao of Clams).
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by itstoomuch » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:41 pm

Shop at Asian food markets.
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:46 pm

JoeRetire wrote:
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.
Careful with wild mushrooms- eating the wrong one can put you six feet under, quickly.
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:48 pm

patrick013 wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:20 pm


Vegetables have alot of weeds. Weeds like fertilizer too I
guess.
Use black matting or mulch between plants to keep the weeds at bay.
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Watty
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by Watty » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:15 pm

When I lived in Oregon you could pick all the blackberries you wanted in pretty much any vacant lot. It pains me to pay an outrageous price for a handful of them at the store where I live now.

We also planted asian pear trees that grew very well there and produced a lot of fruit and those are expensive in the stores.

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

Post by random_walker_77 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:28 pm

Since you're starting out, I'd recommend green onions for an easy win. Just save the bottom 1" of root from your next batch of grocery-store green onions. Submerge the bottom 1/4" in water, replacing every day or two until it roots, then plant outside when it's got enough roots. They're hardy, perennial, and you harvest by taking cuttings as needed. If you only ever harvest 1/2 of it, it re-grows quickly.

Seconding the suggestions for tomatoes (for flavor), zucchini and peppers (productive), and fruit trees.

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

Post by jmk » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:31 pm

Chiltepins.
Curry Leaves.

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

Post by barnaclebob » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:31 pm

mega317 wrote:
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.
We've gotten cilantro to last really well for a week or more by thoroughly drying it, speading it out on a paper towel, then rolling that up and into a bag. It starts to get all rotten when the leaves stay wet.

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

Post by TomatoTomahto » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:35 pm

WhyNotUs wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:30 pm
Salad greens- easy to grow and daily eater. Organic ones are about $9 a lb here
I just spent some time at my sister’s, where we’d go pick some leaves for that night’s salad. Not a head of lettuce, just the leaves we needed then. $9/pound doesn’t come close to the quality.
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tryterry
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by tryterry » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:20 pm

In addition to some of the other responses, we had good luck with snap peas. They didn't take a lot of space and provided a nice flavor.

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

Post by lynneny » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:38 pm

Re CSAs: Around here, several people often split a single CSA share. Besides being more affordable, the week's CSA doesn't go to waste if you go on vacation. Plus there are always weeks when your CSA is a vast amount of one or two things like kale or turnips, so you want to have others to split that with.

CSA fans usually recognize it's an expensive way to shop, but feel that the food is delicious, and that they're supporting local farmers, since the cash flow from pre-paid CSAs can really help your local farmer manage a very seasonal business.

I personally would rather shop at the farmer's market and buy exactly what I want, but friends enjoy the challenge of seeking new recipes to make meals from what turns up in their CSA basket, so it's an adventure in healthy living.

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

Post by itstoomuch » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:56 pm

As a past farmer, sometimes it is cheaper to buy to than to grow. :mrgreen: :moneybag
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by gretah » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:59 pm

ramsfan wrote:
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.
YES !!! So true!

Herbs are so flavorful they stretch your food budget by turning less expensive meats, poultry, and produce into tastier dishes.

Rosemary and thyme are pretty hardy for year round outdoor growth.
Grow the more delicate herbs in containers so you can bring them indoors in deep winter.

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

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:09 pm

Grow your own oregano, let them bloom, then before fall, cut them to hang and dry before rubbing the dry flakes onto a clean cloth and into your container. Following year, the plant will regrow again without need to plant.

If you live in a warm to hot climate, plant a fig tree. Can’t stand idea of paying $5 for 4 figs, highway robbery.
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raisinsaregrapes
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Re: Best plants to grow to save money for food costs

Post by raisinsaregrapes » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:06 pm

Basil (for homemade pesto) and Mint (for daily mojitos) :wink:

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

Post by mxs » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:32 pm

I live in Illinois. I threw chive seeds down one year and forgot about them. Either that year or the next a good size, about 50 stems, clump started. Now it is around 200 stems and blooms about 20 purple flowers every year with no effort from me. Chives aren't expensive but from my experience they take no work.

I also grew green onions from starter bulbs and they were very successful. Again, I don't know if you will save much money, but it was very easy.

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

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:45 pm

mouses wrote:
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.
if it is not cheaper then OP won't be interested. I am for this year.

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

Post by StealthRabbit » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:43 am

Lifelong grower here...

1) Know your produce dept and get the culls (Free)
2) Glean Veggies and fruits (local farms ./ producers) (Free)
3) Help with neighbor's gardens / local growers (Free)
4) Volunteer and soup kitchens (Free)
5) hunt (wisely) for mushrooms (Free)
6) Buy fish (Salmon and Sturgeon) from Native American fisheries (they can legally net `$3/#)

The only thing I find affordable / beneficial to grow is Blueberries (We have ~10 plants; 80 - 100 yr old - ~6 ft dia and 8ft tall)

They are ez to care for (in our climate)
Pretty
yield ~ 300 - 500# / yr (total)

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

Post by randomguy » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:04 am

Rainier wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:53 pm
Marijuana.

Assuming it's legal in your state.
Wouldn't that likely increase your food budget?

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

Post by randomguy » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:08 am

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 7:46 pm

Careful with wild mushrooms- eating the wrong one can put you six feet under, quickly.
Well you would save a lot on your food budget that way:)

Having grown a bunch of stuff, I doubt we are saving money. At best we are getting a couple hundred dollars of veggies for a hundred hours of work. It is pretty cheap entertainment though

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

Post by Pajamas » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:54 am

Depends on what you can best grow in your region and specific gardening area and how much those items cost when in season. No point in growing something available cheap.

Something else to consider is what will be better quality than what you can buy. Nothing beats a perfectly-ripe, freshly-picked tomato still warm from the sun, not even one picked that morning and sold in the shade at a farmer's market.

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

Post by mjb » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:26 pm

Like others have said, herbs tend to be cheaper to grow at home. This is especially true if you don't buys herbs in bulk as often I rarely need the full sized bunch sold in stores.

I currently do this, however the break even point is about 2 years of steady growth.

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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 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:27 pm

jimmo wrote:
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.
At the login screen, there's a checkbox to stay logged in.

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

Post by Krischi » Sun Feb 18, 2018 3:36 pm

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
The plants that are adapted for your local soil and climate do. Very few vegetables fall into this category.

In the Mid-Atlantic you can get by without watering for most part if you have good clay content in the soil, use copious amounts of mulch, and if you have normal rainfall. You'll still have to weed, although the mulch helps a lot with reducing the amount of work. And most gardeners over-fertilize far beyond what is necessary.

If you're in the Southwest or Colorado Highlands, maintenance and watering takes on a whole different meaning. Also, as someone else already said. the same vegetables that you find so delectable are also delectable to all kinds of critters.

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

Post by Luke Duke » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:47 am

billyt wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:44 am
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.

Billy T
This. I would say basil is the exception.

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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 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:54 am

Luke Duke wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:47 am
billyt wrote:
Sat Feb 17, 2018 6:44 am
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.

Billy T
This. I would say basil is the exception.
Not unless you try to figure in labor costs. Putting in tomato plants costs me less than $10. I have some fencing and netting that I bought years ago, so in theory it would pro-rate each year to the tune of a couple bucks. Sometimes I have to water, so that would be a bit of money. The total dollar amount though is small. What gets you is the effort.

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

Post by dm200 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:01 pm

Back when I had the garden, one thing that took a while to get growing was horseradish - but it was simple to keep growing year to year - and it was super, super strong. Make my eyes water when ground.

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

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:06 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:01 pm
Back when I had the garden, one thing that took a while to get growing was horseradish - but it was simple to keep growing year to year - and it was super, super strong. Make my eyes water when ground.
That was one of my mistakes in gardening, planting horseradish. My husband likes horseradish sauce with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Never again, it’s almost like mint, a pest. Took a while to get rid of them.

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

Post by dm200 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:15 pm

DrGoogle2017 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:06 pm
dm200 wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:01 pm
Back when I had the garden, one thing that took a while to get growing was horseradish - but it was simple to keep growing year to year - and it was super, super strong. Make my eyes water when ground.
That was one of my mistakes in gardening, planting horseradish. My husband likes horseradish sauce with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Never again, it’s almost like mint, a pest. Took a while to get rid of them.
A little homegrown horseradish goes a LONG way :)

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

Post by anonsdca » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:41 pm

Some herbs are cheaper in the store. Any asian market will have bunches of cilantro, basil, mint, green onions very cheap. Herbs like Rosemary, thyme will grow like a weed in some places.

Cucumbers are easy, beans are easy, squash is easy, carrots are relatively easy. Radishes are super easy. I stick with the easy stuff and its much more fun for me. Tomatoes have never been easy for me.

I have a fig, pear, apple, cherry, plum trees that gives a nice amount of fruit eat year. We have berries also, but I live in a place were berries are easily foraged.

I don't think about costs at all when planting. Just feels good to do it and eat the result.

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

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:58 pm

It’s definitely not about cost, it’s about taste, plus my heart sings when I walk out in my garden and saw so many buds. Spring is coming. Yeah!

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

Post by ThriftyPhD » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:14 pm

Caduceus wrote:
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?
I would start by looking at what you consume the most. Eggplants are easy to grow, but if you don't eat eggplant it will cost you money, not save money. Herbs might be a good option. Do you currently buy a lot of herbs, or would you change how you cook to use herbs more?

I've found peppers and tomatoes to be my favorite to grow. They're very productive, and if you eat a lot of tomato based foods, they can be used readily.

Note that many items will have a relatively short harvest window, depending on your climate. For example, you might grow a type of tomato that produces a LOT of tomatoes, but over a 2 week period. Plan ahead, have a lot of sauces that you want to prepare and either can or freeze for the rest of the year.

Note that you're unlikely to come in cost competitive to commodity veggies. The standard supermarket tomato is very cheap, for example. But if you like heirloom organic tomatoes, you might save some money.

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

Post by dm200 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:17 pm

anonsdca wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:41 pm
Some herbs are cheaper in the store. Any asian market will have bunches of cilantro, basil, mint, green onions very cheap. Herbs like Rosemary, thyme will grow like a weed in some places.
Cucumbers are easy, beans are easy, squash is easy, carrots are relatively easy. Radishes are super easy. I stick with the easy stuff and its much more fun for me. Tomatoes have never been easy for me.
I have a fig, pear, apple, cherry, plum trees that gives a nice amount of fruit eat year. We have berries also, but I live in a place were berries are easily foraged.
I don't think about costs at all when planting. Just feels good to do it and eat the result.
Note that there are two very different and distinct types of cucumbers. One type is the slicing type - usually longer and less crinkled. These can only be eaten fresh or with vinegar, etc. They are no good for making pickles, etc. The second type is "pickling" type - usually smaller and more crinkled. The, of course, can be eaten fresh as well, BUT they can be used in making pickles. Make sure you plant the type that fits your needs/desires. Maybe the pickling type is the safest bet - since you can also eat them fresh, BUT they might not look as good that way.

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

Post by dm200 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:19 pm

Note that many items will have a relatively short harvest window, depending on your climate. For example, you might grow a type of tomato that produces a LOT of tomatoes, but over a 2 week period. Plan ahead, have a lot of sauces that you want to prepare and either can or freeze for the rest of the year.
Regarding tomatoes - some varieties produce a "crop" more quickly BUT ripen pretty much all at once. Other varieties may take a little longer BUT keep on producing ripened fruit for an extended period of time. Keep in mind your climate as well. The first frost (or near frost) is an instant end of the tomato season.

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

Post by jlawrence01 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:24 pm

I live in Southern Arizona where produce is dirt cheap and water is quite expensive,

I do not buy citrus as I get bushels of it each season from people who orange, lemon, grapefruit, and kumquat trees.

We buy produce at 60# of produce for $10. That covers about 2/3 of the produce that we consume but not everything.

We hit the Asian and Mexican markets for most of other produce including onions and potatoes as they are significantly less than the major supermarkets and offer better variety.

We have tried to grow a lot of things like tomatoes and squash with no success. We got very little yield for the amount of effort exerted. We do grow a lot of leaf lettuce and frisee. We are also starting to grow herbs. however, one of the local Asian markets sell herbs (rosemary, mint, basil, thyme and the like for about $1 a bunch which is getting me to question whether it is actually worth it.

We buy a lot of salvage produce. Two weeks ago, I bought 5# of assorted specialty mushrooms for a $1 and while we did not get them all used, it was better than paying $4-5/ lb at Fry's (Krogers).

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

Post by bhsince87 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:24 pm

If you have a lot of time (or more time than money), and live in the right area, there are quite few things you can grow cheaply. The key is to grow mostly heirloom varieties so you can save seed from one year to the next. We have favorites like spaghetti squash (bought one pack of seeds 25 years ago!), 3 kinds of tomatoes, a summer squash, and a green been that I've been planting for years from one initial purchase of seeds.

As you and others have mentioned, herbs do offer big bang for the buck. Many can also be grown in containers, even inside your house. Every year i plant basil, cilantro, chives, and garlic.

Basil is the only one where I can;t seem to get seeds to propagate themselves. But they're cheap enough anyway. A $2 packet will last 3-4 years. I usually get a jump start by buying a plant from the grocery store, using about 2/3 of the leaves, then planting the rest of the plant. They always grow and so well Just make sure you get a plant that has roots intact.

I supplement that one plant with plants grown from seed. I do a new planting every 3-4 weeks. This keeps a fresh crop coming all the way till frost. I do the same with cilantro and lettuce/salad greens.

We also have rosemary, sage, thyme, and yes parsley! and oregano plants that are many years old. I just bring them inside over the winter.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

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

Post by dm200 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:11 pm

Depending on the climate, cabbage and broccoli can be good. In many temperate areas, these are fall crops - you plant the seedlings (either ones you grow yourself or purchase) in mid summer and they mature in the cooler fall.

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

Post by Gary Guss » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:34 pm

We are growing hard neck garlic, real no brainer, you plant the cloves and wait and pretty soon garlic happens, you can also eat the scapes

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

Post by MathWizard » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:40 pm

Only grow the things you will eat (and usually a lot of it). When it gets ripe, you will
either can it, or get inundated.

We have downsized the garden from its heyday, due to the physical labor involved.
Mainly tomatoes and asparagus. Tomatoes because they taste so much better than the store.
Asparagus because it is so much cheaper than the store.

Unfortunately, the deer and bunnies like asparagus too, so we end up buying from
the store and farmer's market a lot.

letsgobobby
Posts: 12078
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

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

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:04 pm

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