How to Beat the Rising Cost of Produce

Lately I have heard a lot about the rising cost of produce.  Every week there is a story in the news about the drought in California, increased transportation costs, supply and demand issues, etc.  At the same time I see bigger, brighter, fancier and over stocked giant grocery stores being built a car drive away from the consumer.  I’m sure you pay for these fancy grocery stores too!

Then I look out my window and think that in a few weeks, I will be picking fresh salad greens, herbs, beans, peas, beets, carrots, turnips, potatoes, onions and strawberries all within a fresh morning walk and basically free.  Through the off-season, canned and frozen fruit and vegetables that came from the garden, again for free!

Saving money. just another good reason to start a vegetable garden this summer if you have not done so already.  Also a good reason to plan an expansion this year, maybe another raised bed or a few straw bales to increase production.  Even a small plot will start you on the path of savings.

The following article is from the Gardening Channel and covers some financial advantages of growing your own garden full of fresh vegetables.  It also goes into the “best bang for your buck” on which vegetables to grow to save the most.

Saving Money with Your Vegetable Garden: How Much You Could Save?
Growing your own vegetables is bound to save you money during those all-too-frequent grocery shopping trips. But if you plan strategically, you can maximize the dollar potential of your vegetable garden. And we don’t mean selling your crops, which results in instant profit. Instead, we list some of the best and worst financial choices for your vegetable garden based on $2 seed packet purchases. Of course, what you grow is subject to personal preference; these options are purely based on savings potential.
First, let’s take a look at those vegetables that make the least financial sense. Potatoes and onions are so inexpensive at supermarkets that you will not save that much money by growing your own. Also, vegetables like cauliflower and artichokes that are especially susceptible to disease or pest infestation may yield fewer crops, thereby adding to your grocery list. Now for money-saving crops.

Salad Greens
Bags of spinach, arugula, or Swiss chard can cost as much as $5 per bag in stores. These also do not stay fresh for long, so if you cannot use entire bags at once, you are actually losing money.
In order to ensure a continuous supply (not surplus) of fresh greens, plant some seeds each week. These easy-to-grow greens only need about 4-6 hours of sunlight per day and moist soil at least 6 inches deep.
How does this add up? If your garden ends up producing 20 weeks’ worth of salad greens and you previously bought 3 bags weekly for $4 each, you just saved $240 by growing your own versatile leafy greens.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes
With pint prices similar to salad greens, you can save lots of cash by producing your own heirloom cherry tomatoes. This variety has a longer growing season and higher yield, which makes financial sense.
Make sure your plants have at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. One plant can produce about 20 pints of heirloom cherry tomatoes.
How does this add up? If you produce 60 pints of cherry tomatoes per season and avoid spending $5 per pint, you just saved $300 this season.

Heirloom green beans
These heavy heirloom crops can cost as much as $6/lb in markets, much more than other green bean varieties, which makes these crops ideal money-savers. Each seed packet you buy can produce pounds of beans.
Full sunlight is necessary for these beans. And for maximum savings, opt for beans that grow upright on vines, which will yield additional pounds simply due to available space.
How does it add up? Assume ten plants produce three pounds of beans each: your savings comes to $180.

Herbs
Finally, an endless supply of herbs can make a real dent in your grocery bill. You can either spend $3 on a single fresh sprig or buy a four-pack of starter plants. Here’s where the savings really add up: each plant can produce 50 times as much as what you can get for that $3 at the supermarket.
Herb plants will need 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Make sure to clip flower buds for maximum flavor.
How does this add up? If your four herb plants each produce 50 sprigs, you just saved $600 this season on herbs. However, this is a lot of herbs! Even if you only use the yield of one crop, your savings equals $150. Freeze the rest using filled ice cube trays to use over winter.

Start saving your money!

Tom

Original Source: http://www.gardeningchannel.com/maximizing-vegetable-garden-savings/
For additional resources on how to best utilize your vegetable garden to save money, visit:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB123983924976823051
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/can_a_vegetable_garden_save_you_money
http://www.marketplace.org/topics/your-money/numbers/how-much-does-organic-gardening-really-save-you

http://www.newdream.org/blog/2011-09-calculating-the-savings-in-growing-your-own-food

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s