Real Men Sow

The Real Men Sow Top 9 Money Saving Veg of 2011

There were nine fruit and veg that saved a substantial more than everything else during 2011, and here they are:

Tomatoes
It’ll come as no surprise that tomatoes topped the table, saving me £64.62. I grew about six different types, ranging from the sweet little cherry toms to the whopping fatboy of a beefsteak.

I had a fairly productive year, growing nearly 15kg of fruit, and believe it or not, I managed to use all of them without a chutney, sauce or passata in sight.

Strawberries
Another one of the more glamorous allotment staples comfortably took second place. My strawberry plants are now 3 – 4 years established, so at the height of their powers, and 2011 saw a record yield. I even grew enough to make a few pots of jam, something I’ve never had enough surplus to do before.

They might only hold a short season, but I managed over 7kg of juicy fruit, worth £59.86 (these are the strawbs that actually made it home!). I’m not sure I’d have bought this many if I wasn’t growing them, but I can safely say I didn’t waste a single one.

Now, this is where things get interesting…

Beetroot
It’s said that nice guys finish last, but to my great delight, the good old beetroot has just blown that theory away. Easy to grow, reliable and without a complaint in the world, the beetroot is my vegetable best friend, especially now I’ve sussed out that it’s a real money spinner as well.

I confess, I grew a lot of beets – three row’s worth (12.5kg), as me and Ailsa love them, but I hadn’t realised that fresh beets are over 3 quid a kilo in the shops.

They’re a lot more versatile than given credit for too: beets aren’t just for salads and pickling. Check out Love Beetroot for a whole host of cooking ideas.

Squash
Just pipped in to fourth place was my squash crop. This was my heaviest harvest at just under 25kg, and saved me £41.29. Squashes are great fun to grow, delicious, attractive, versatile and store for ages – in fact I waxed lyrical about them back in April.

French Beans
French beans saved me about £30, and were another veg I didn’t expect to be amongst the biggest money savers. Once again, I think this was down to reliability and sheer volume of crop – I reckon 5.6kg of French beans is a good harvest in anyone’s money.

The plants really like my plot, and I’ve had good, trouble-free harvests ever since I took the allotment on. They’re also good money savers as you can grow extra and freeze them to eat all year round.

Spinach
For me, this was the biggest surprise of the lot. The humble spinach contributed £28.67 towards my total, despite most harvests only ever saving me about 80p.

You can get spinach, and its sister veg chard, to grow most of the year, and I think it’s this presence that makes the leaf such a good money saver. Spinach is simply always there to harvest, and being so versatile, we used a lot of the stuff.

Rhubarb
Pleased to see my favourite allotment produce make an appearance, giving me even more excuse to invest in some more. My plants are now about 4 years old, and beginning to bear good fruit, so hopefully the 5kg and £28.60 of 2011 is just the start…

Leeks
Oh, the great What Could Have Been of my experiment. Between Christmas 2010 and Spring 2011, I harvested over 6.5kg of leeks, worth a healthy £27.73. I had no idea leeks commanded such a price in the shops, so vowed to plant many more for the next winter. Unfortunately, the new crop got rust, and wiped them out.

I love leeks and we use loads of them, so I planted another three rows. Who knows, had the rust not struck, I might have been crowning the leek my savings winner.

For the full list of veg, fruit and herbs I harvested during 2011, complete with value and crop weight, please see below.

To conclude my summaries, I’ll be posting my top tips for growing veg to save money later in the week.

Thanks for all the comments and interest in the experiment. They’re much appreciated.

total fruit and veg sub totals
veg amount harvested (g)
value
strawberries 7089 59.86
tomatoes 14833 64.62
beetroot 12481 42.77
squash 24722 41.29
raspberries 2751 33.64
french beans 5630 29.62
spinach 3454 28.67
rhubarb 5038 28.60
leeks 6650 27.73
potatoes 14833 18.94
curly kale 3233 17.99
courgettes 3987 14.86
cucumbers x 22 14.30
gooseberries (cooking) 1441 12.55
onion x 39 12.48
carrots 5335 9.93
gooseberries (eating) 2247 9.13
parsnip 2892 8.63
lettuce 8.00
pak choi 1541 7.71
salad leaves 912 7.31
purple sprouting brocolli 654 5.13
broad beans 844 4.76
runner beans 573 2.87
cauliflower 496 2.34
sweet potatoes 816 2.18
garlic x 7 2.10
radishes 675 1.87

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4 Comments

  1. landatthebottomJanuary 11, 2012 at 9:02 pmReply

    Use prices from a more expensive shop and then you have “saved” more. If you save more then you get to spend more on seeds and plants and tools. I told my SO that courgettes are £1.28 for two (they are in Tesco Express), and if you grow Kenyan String beans you can argue that at Ocado prices it makes sense to employ a laborer.

  2. Naomi/OutofmyshedJanuary 14, 2012 at 5:00 pmReply

    Really impressed by how much you’ve saved, especially beetroot and leeks. Must grow more of both next year as they’re two of my favourite veg, although I do struggle with beetroot for some reason (and am a bit envious at your ease in growing them!). Made some fantastc beetroot and chocolate ice cream from a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe recently. Lovely deep pink colour, very chocolatey and with a slight earthy hint too-big hit with fellow diners too.

  3. TimFebruary 15, 2012 at 8:08 pmReply

    Rhubarb is one of the biggest ‘cash crop’ I grow. I started with one plant four years ago. Since I’ve split it about 8 times and had roughly 100kg a year (probably much more, on my allotment my neighbours helped themselves and we gave off far more!)

    Three to five sticks in Tescos of their organic range (which ours is as well) is about £3-4 for about 500g! Crazy stuff.

    We can’t kill it. We just pile on manure at the start of the year and it goes crazy. We never force it though. We get a harvest from about Feb to November.

  4. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » What I Did to Get Good Peas (Or Was it the Weather?)July 3, 2012 at 8:35 pmReply

    [...] gave up on them after last year, especially after working out how little they saved me compared to other more space-efficient vegetables. I couldn’t believe you can get a kilo of frozen peas from the shops for little over a [...]

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.

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