Growing veggies to save

       

Nicola Arnold

Vegetables are one of many food items introduced to us at a young age. We often grew up being told that we had to eat them because they were good for us, even though some of us didn't particularly like them. However, with age, a number of us have either grown to love them or come to the realisation that they're essential to our health and wellbeing. In this light, vegetables may be a regular expense on your weekly grocery list and frequently feature in your daily meal plans. What if we said that you could easily grow them yourself and save hundreds of pounds annually? Growing your own veggies in your backyard could mean having just enough extra to cover bills and avert online loans.

It may seem like something only farmers and keen gardeners do, but it is something that anyone can do with the right information and a little patience. In this guide, we're going to tell you how you can begin growing veggies and save money. We will outline a few ways in which growing your own vegetables at home will positively impact both your food shopping bill and budgeting efforts.

Learn the basics of gardening

It's important that before you consider growing veggies you have the basics down. If you don't, you could end up wasting cash and time planting crops that never yield anything tangible. If you're a beginner there are a few basic things that you should know. To begin, ensuring there's enough sun is a great place to start. Take note of the fact that your veggies don't necessarily need up to eight hours of sun on a daily basis to grow. Apparently, they can grow well in part-shade with as little as three hours of sun daily. There are, however, particular vegetables that do better in part-shade such as salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, beans and Brussel sprouts. On the other hand, eggplants, squash, corn, tomatoes, and peppers do best in full sun.



grow tomatoes and save

Other things to take note of are the amount of space you have available and your watering needs. Try not to drown your seeds in water but also make sure they get a sufficient amount. Generally, when you're starting out, try going for veggies that are easy to plant and grow. These are said to be salad leaves, spring onions, potatoes, beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes or beetroots. Generally, it might be best to stick to plants that are simple to plant and low maintenance, to begin with.

Decide what items you want to grow

Some vegetables you could consider that will give you value for your money include:

  • Tomatoes for £1.50. You should get up to 3kg worth of tomatoes per plant.
  • Baby leaf salads for £2. This could yield from 2-6 bags of salad.
  • Carrots for £1.50 for a packet of seed. This could yield up to 6kg per square metre.
  • umber for £1.50 a plant. This could yield up to 30-40 fruits per plant.
  • Courgettes for £1.50 a plant. This could yield up to 30 courgettes per plant.

Growing vegetables can help you save money, however, there are many things you should consider first. Such things include the type of crops, the quantity, how much veggies your crops will yield, and maintenance costs. If these variables aren't carefully considered, you could end up spending more than you're saving.

On that note, the first step is to decide what vegetables that you would like to grow. It isn't necessary that you grow every vegetable for the sake of it. It might be best to focus on the ones you tend to eat regularly. You could also choose to grow the ones that are more expensive to buy so that you're getting a robust yield for less.



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Bell peppers, green beans, and herbs are also vegetables you could consider adding to your list as they're said to yield generously. These prices are tentative, however, they give you an idea of how much you'll pay per plant or packet of seeds. You could do a little research and do some window shopping to check out vegetable seed and plant prices locally. Also, note that prices may vary depending on the time of the year you're buying them as well. This will give you an indication of how much you'll be investing and what yields you can expect in return. Apparently, seeds from your local farmers' market are sold at a cheaper rate than supermarkets so consider checking prices there as well.

Start planting

Once you've decided what you want to grow, you can start preparing. You'll first need to find space or work out where exactly you want to grow the vegetables. If you don't actually have garden space, don't fret. You can always grow them in trays or pots on a window ledge or balcony. You may not be able to grow a robust amount at a time, but it should suffice depending on how often you eat vegetables and the quantity you consume. It is said that autumn is the best time to begin growing against the next year, so take that into consideration also.

If you have children, growing vegetables is a great activity to keep them engaged. More significantly, they are more likely to be enthusiastic about eating food that they helped to grow. It's also an awesome way to get them to learn about food and how it's grown so carry them along in your planting process.



get creative with your vegtable cooking

Get stuck in

Make your own compost

When growing your veggies it's advisable that you try and keep costs as low as possible. If the primary objective is to save, you want to try and avoid spending too much on maintenance and upkeep. One of the ways you can do this is by making your own compost. It is essentially just a matter of layering organic materials to create a concoction that will eventually turn into an efficient soil builder. A bag of compost can cost anywhere from £1.75 depending on the quantity and brand. Making it yourself, however, will save you a significant amount in the long run.

Keep the seeds from the veg you eat

Often times, there are seeds inside of the vegetables you eat. However, those seeds can actually be used to plant new vegetables. For example, you can plant the seeds from tomatoes and they will yield new ones. The same principle applies to peppers, beans, and peas.

Make the most out of your vegetables

Depending on your meal plans, you may not have intentions of eating loads of vegetables every night. In order to avoid waste, it might be worth focusing on vegetables you can store and preserve. Below we have listed several ways in which you can preserve your veggies and make them last longer.

Most vegetables don't have a long shelf-life but there are a few you can store until you're ready to consume them. For example, vegetables that can be cured as well as root vegetables such as onions or winter squash have a better chance of surviving storage. All packaging should be removed from room temperature, left loose and stored at room temperature. For the most part, you should only store healthy and fully mature vegetables and avoid storing ones that are immature or bruised.

If you choose to freeze your vegetables, it may please you to know that most vegetables do well in the freezer. They have a life span of about 8-12 weeks when frozen which gives you ample time to consume them. If they're frozen right after being harvested, they should retain nutrients, texture, color and their flavour as well. Try and make sure you remove all soil from the body of the vegetables and ensure they're completely dry before freezing them.

If you've chosen to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, and mushrooms which have high water content, you might want to give canning a shot. Other vegetables that you could can include asparagus, beets, carrots, corn, okra, peas, peppers, potatoes, and spinach.  By canning them, you'll be able to keep them both safe to eat and fresh. In order to can your vegetables you're going to need to invest in a pressure canner. This is one of the most important aspects of the process, so you'll need to learn how to use one. Other items you'll need on board include canning jars, canning seals and rings, a jar lifter, canning funnel, and canning salt if you desire. The processing time and method for each vegetable vary. It's best to find detailed instructions on canning online or in cookbooks before giving it a shot.

Pickling is a great way to extend the lifespan of veggies that have lost their crunch and create a fun snack in the process. In case you thought cucumbers were the only vegetables that could be pickled, it might interest you to know that peppers, carrots, radishes, and cauliflowers can be pickled as well.  It is said that ones with tougher skin do better, but that's not to say softer veggies won't also come out well. Pickling will require canning, however, you'll be adding many other ingredients to the vegetables. You will need cider or distilled vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and whatever other spices you choose to throw in to add a personal touch.

Dehydrating or drying your vegetables is another clever way of preserving them and saving money. Drying vegetables give them a much longer lifespan, helps preserve the vitamins and minerals, and also retains the veggies flavour. Unlike canning, this option doesn't require a large investment in equipment and takes up far less storage space. You can dry your food using an oven or open-air drying method. Take into consideration that using the oven may affect the color, taste, and levels of nutrients in comparison to open-air drying methods. Vegetables that are suitable for drying include peppers, beans, peas, yams, onions, cereal grains, beetroots, potatoes, squash, corn, and carrots. Stems, roots, tops and sometimes blossoms can also be dried and utilised. The end products can be used as herbs and powders in soups or salads as well as for nibbling. One of the greatest benefits of drying your veggies is that they can last for years.

Growing your own vegetables gives you the opportunity to delve into new recipes. There are tons of dishes that you can consider making with each vegetable you grow. Tomatoes, for example, can be used to make soups, sauce for mincemeat for pasta dishes or tomato galette. Likewise, potatoes can be used to make mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, chips, hash browns, onion rings, or potato salad. Ultimately, you could save yourself tons of money by simply diversifying your meals using your homegrown vegetables. An added benefit is that seeing as you can cook your veggies as soon as they're harvested, you may find homegrown makes your meals taste better.

Conclusion

Gardening definitely takes a significant amount of effort, however, it can easily become something you love. Not only will it save you money, but it's also a stress-relieving and rewarding hobby to pick up. You have the security of knowing exactly what you're eating as it's growing right in your garden. This especially applies to you if you're a fan of organic food. Seeing as it's typically expensive in the supermarket, you'd save big by growing it yourself. Saving hundreds of pounds every year on veggies could mean having more money to cover your expenses every month. The key to saving money while growing them is to keep your expenses as low as possible while maximizing your yields.

Have you ever gown any vegetables? What has been your experience and what impact has it had on your finances? Let us know on our social media pages. This site also has some great tips just click here.

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