With prices at the grocery store higher than ever, you might be interested in putting in a vegetable garden for the first time ever. Or, maybe you're ready to expand and plant even more. Regardless of your skill level, planting your own produce may be worth the effort based on the amount of money you can save alone.
Not only will your homegrown veggies help with your budget, but they will taste better fresh from the garden. Here is a list of 10 delicious garden vegetables that will save you money if you grow them yourself.
Lettuce the unsung hero of vegetables. Lettuce is what makes a salad a salad. You don’t technically need a slice of it on your burger, but you’ll probably miss it when it’s gone — and who wants a taco that doesn’t have that extra crunch? The best thing about lettuce is that it’s easy to grow and it’s one of those vegetables you can regrow from scraps.
Next time you finish using a head of romaine lettuce, take the remaining stem and put it in a shallow dish of water, set it by a window or under grow lights, change the water in the dish every couple of days, and watch your lettuce regrow itself.
However, lettuce is also easy to grow from seed and because its roots are so shallow it also makes a great window box plant. Just remember, that lettuce is best planted in early spring and fall because it prefers cooler weather.
Bell peppers require lots of sun and frequent watering, and if you intend to start your pepper plant from seed, you should plant your starter indoors and transplant it outdoors once the weather is consistently in the 60s.
Bell pepper plants aren’t low maintenance but once you get the hang of them, they can be a fantastic hack if you’re trying to find ways to spend less on groceries. The average plant will produce five to 10 peppers, while a single bell pepper at the store costs roughly a dollar, and a packet of 30 green bell pepper seeds could cost less than $3.
Planting your own tomatoes is another great way to save money. Tomatoes are typically over a dollar each from the store and they don’t taste nearly as good as tomatoes that are fresh from the garden. You may be able to buy a packet of tomato seeds for less than $2, and tomato plants typically yield 10-30 pounds of tomatoes. You read that right. Chances are, you’ll be giving tomatoes away.
Tomatoes need full sun, regular watering, and a trellis, stake, or tomato cage to support the plant in its effort to stand up under the weight.
As long as you have good soil, plenty of water, and lots of sun, adding a little spice to your salsa this summer could be a cinch. Jalapenos require warm temperatures, and will not survive if they are started before the weather is consistently in the upper 60s and higher.
Try planting your jalapenos a few weeks after you plant your tomatoes and you should be set. Considering the typical jalapeno plant yields 25-30 peppers, you can freeze what you don’t use for future Taco Tuesdays.
As long as you wait until temperatures are consistently in the 70s, growing cucumbers in the garden from a seed might be an excellent endeavor. Water your cucumber plant regularly, and use a garden trellis for your own harvesting convenience, and you’ll likely have more cucumbers than you know what to do with.
The key for cucumbers is ensuring that they are growing in rich, moist soil. Whether you use compost or fertilizer, cucumbers that grow from enriched and well-watered ground will be sweet and mild. But if you plant cucumbers before the weather has turned consistently warm, don’t water them enough, and don’t properly fertilize your soil, you may end up with a bitter harvest.
Whether you're tossing them with garlic and olive oil or sauteing them with mushrooms, fresh green beans can be one of the best ways to turn a forgettable dinner into something special. The only problem is that if you’re on a budget, at nearly $5 for a bag, fresh green beans aren’t the cheapest option in the produce section. That’s why growing your own is a great idea.
A bag of 100 seeds can be found for less than $3, and one plant often produces up to a pound. There are two types of green beans you can choose to grow — pole beans and bush beans. Bush beans start producing earlier and are ready to harvest all at once, while pole beans produce longer and over a period of time. Whichever you choose, green bean plants do best when they are sowed directly in the soil once the weather is consistently warm. Green beans plants require regular watering and full sun.
For less than $2 for seeds, you might be able to spend your spring harvesting your own sweet peas. This yummy vegetable can be thrown on top of salads, pasta, or eaten as a side dish all by itself.
The good news is they are generally easy to grow. Plant sweet peas before the final frost — they need sun (but nothing that gets too intense) and frequent harvesting.
Like sweet peas, carrots should be planted in the cooler months of spring and fall. As long as you have sandy, loose soil (and if you don’t, you can mix some for yourself), carrots are typically frost-resistant and easy to plant.
The key to growing carrots is making sure you thin them out if they are growing too close together. You can freeze them or can them — and enjoy adding to your stew this winter.
This colorful superfood has a mildly bitter taste some people love. You can add it to salads or smoothies, and saute with other flavors. Garden grown chard is a budget-friendly way to make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin K, A, and C, as well as magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber in your diet.
It helps that growing this green veggie is a relatively easy task. Plant them in fertilized soil a few weeks prior to the last frost, water them frequently, and enjoy.
Chances are, if you have any gardener friends, there’s been a time or two you may have struggled to find a polite way to tell them you don’t need more zucchini. This is because zucchini is the vegetable gardener’s friend, and produces plenty.
Plant your zucchini once temperatures are consistently in the 60s and the danger of frost has passed. Sow your seeds about an inch into a small mound of fertilized soil, somewhere that gets full sun, and then find a friend who will help you eat the 10 pounds you’ll likely harvest — per plant. Keep in mind, a packet of 25 seeds costs little more than $2, which makes the value exponential.
Growing your own vegetables is a hobby that can save you money, which is a rare treat. If you find yourself really getting into it, you might even want to plant enough vegetables to sell locally. Think about planting an herb garden as well, to save even more and have a seriously delicious summer.
Gardening may be overwhelming for beginners, but many find it to be relaxing. Besides the reward that comes with saving money at the grocery, you also get to eat your reward, which may be the most gratifying part of all.