What to Grow in Your Garden to Save the Most Money
Which plants give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to producing food? It will depend on what you eat and enjoy, what you want to preserve and the price of food but the following yield quickly, are easy to grow and have multiple uses.
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To get the most out of your garden, I do recommend learning about your area and what grows best. When I first started, so much of the information I found was US based and being in Canberra, Australia it was so different. Now, I’m on the Sunshine Coast and it’s different again.
The Australian Gardening Calendar is a great place to start. Easy Container Gardening is an easy ebook and right now free. Vertical Gardening has great tips and is currently also free. A to Z Gardening for Beginners has lots of information and the ebook is free.
Brown thumbs like me can usually grow herbs, they keep growing plus can turn a simple dish into something a little fancier. Coriander is one of my favourites since I love the taste but also, I’ve frequently ignored/forgotten about it so it self seeded and grew more! Coriander does that within a few weeks.
Basil is great for pesto, you can dry it, freeze it and use it in all sorts of sauces. Mosquitos are repelled by basil so it is a good one to place near windows or doors too. Rosemary and peppermint also repel mosquitos, both are good for salads, tea or numerous meals.
To get started with herbs you can either use seeds, buy seedlings or simply regrow from fresh herbs you purchase. Any with roots can be placed in water to strengthen their roots then grown in a pot or the garden.
2. Lettuce and Greens
Varieties such as cos, romaine, oakleaf and similar looser leaf lettuce provide ample leaves for salad and keep growing. Romaine lettuce has more nutrients than kale and produces the most out of all lettuce varieties. Try growing lettuce vertically if you lack space.
Spinach is another great green that is easy to grow, yields a lot and can be used in numerous dishes. Baby leaves are great for salad and any leaves can be finely shredded to add to mince dishes giving more nutrients and making meals stretch.
Grow lettuce from the roots of lettuce you have purchased or get seeds or seedlings.
Sauces, soup, sundried or fresh, tomatoes have numerous uses. Cherry tomatoes are great for salads and various dishes plus they grow easily. Other tomato varieties are great for preserving as well as cooking. Grow them from seed easily by simply placing a few slices in the ground or a pot and covering them with dirt.
If you eat berries, growing your own can work out much cheaper plus they taste better. Train blackberries to grow up a trellis, grow strawberries in hanging pots and have dwarf blueberries growing in pots for a variety.
Berries are packed with nutrients and can be made into jam, desserts, frozen for smoothies and use later. They’re most likely to grow from seedlings or seeds purchased.
Growing smaller varieties on a trellis ensures better use of space as pumpkins require a lot of space to spread out. They are great for soup, curry, pie, fruit cake, adding to just about anything and we use them every week. Pumpkins can be stored for long periods of time provided they are whole and the skin has not been damaged.
Butternut is full of flavour and best for pies, soups, roasting etc so it is my preferred one to grow. Collect the seeds and grow more easily or dry the seeds for a snack.
Zucchini has a few varieties and again can be used in multiple dishes. Grate them into mince dishes for more nutrients and less meat without changing the flavour much. They can also be used in brownies and cakes. Zucchini are one of the ingredients used in the frugal cookbook, 26 Ingredients.
7. Lemon Tree
Cordial, lemon meringue pie, lemon curd, lemon tart, preserved lemons as well as being used to preserve other food, lemons are a staple in my kitchen. It’s one of the main ingredients used in over 100 recipes in the 26 Ingredients cookbook too.
All fruit trees are good, depending on what you eat, how much space you have and how easy they are to grow. Apricots, nectarines, plums, peaches and apples were common where I grew up in Tassie. All of these were easily preserved for winter months as well.
8. Chillies and Capsicum
Similar families but slightly different. Chillies were easier to grow but both chillies and capsicums yield a lot plus can be used in numerous dishes. Drying chillies ensures you can use them in various recipes year round too.
Both of these are easy to grow from seeds so next time you buy them, save the seeds to use.
9. Whatever You Eat!
Look at the produce you buy regularly. Research how to grow it and if the yield is worth it then plan your garden out and grow according to what you eat.
There is no point growing zucchini if you never eat them or focusing on herbs you don’t use just because they grow well. Focus your efforts and use your space wisely to make the most of your garden. Whether you have a full backyard, a window sill or a balcony, plants can be grown to save you money.
What am I Actually Growing?
Having only just moved back, I haven’t started here again. In Vanuatu, we have coconuts, papaya, passionfruit, limes and a selection of herbs on the property. In the Solomon Islands, we had bananas, starfruit, pineapple, coconuts, ferns and a few herbs,
Now we are living on the Sunshine Coast, I have a few things I want to grow.
Coriander as it is a favourite of mine. Basil, rosemary, garlic, mint, chives, ginger and sage as these are herbs we use a lot.
Passionfruit is my favourite and one I want to grow the most. Avocadoes grow well here and we eat them a lot. Guavas, mangoes, tomatoes, lemons and possibly papaya. My daughter wants to try her hand at pineapple and coconut too but we will see. I’ll be checking other gardens and seeking advice before we do anything.
Lettuce, chillies, capsicum, pumpkin, cucumber are high on the list. Spinach, beans, peas and sweet potato are potentials too.
I’ll start small then expand. Ideally, there’ll be a firepit, BBQ area and I might look at hydroponics. The aim is to be fairly self-sufficient eventually.