There is a lot of January excitement going around, as us growers begin rifling through the seed catalogues and surfing seed retailer websites in earnest.
Now I’ve had a few weeks to digest my veg saving experiment results, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips on what to buy if your grow your own focus for the coming year is saving some dosh.
With hindsight, its obvious stuff, but this time last year I didn’t realise any of this.
1. Grow What You Eat
Beetroot was a surprising third place for me in the list of the biggest money-saving veg, but perhaps it shouldn’t have come as such a shock. After all, we love beets in my house and eat a lot of them in salads and sarnies.
As well as my favourites, I try not to forget the good old fashioned staples – veg that forms the backbone of many a meal, such as garlic and onions.
The interesting thing here is that although strawbs saved me a heap during 2011, I’m not sure I’d have eaten that many of the fruit if I hadn’t have grown them, and consequently another less fashionable veg like beets and spinach might be a better bet.
2. Grow Veg to Store
Squashes are a great example of a veg that I grow to store. They are expensive in the shops and last for yonks. My butternuts and crown prince are still sitting happily in my dining room without a hint of deterioration. I reckon I’ll get a good couple of months out of them yet, too.
Growing veg to store means that you can make savings all year round from one harvest.
Of course, some veg ‘stores’ really well in the ground also, such as leeks.
3. Grow Veg to Freeze
The wonders of a fridge freezer kind of defeat the object of seasonal eating, but again allows you to save money all year round (unless you’re factoring in electrical costs! *scratches head*).
This is especially applicable to fruit. Growing and freezing rhubarb and gooseberries, for example, will give you tasty stewed fruit all through winter, as opposed to raspberries and strawberries, which have to munched at harvest time.
4. Grow Veg that Lasts
Spinach and chard are a good example of veg that has a long life out on the plot. My chard will often last nine months of the year, and as it is a cut and come again variety, keeps on growing the more I pick. This levels out my savings across the year and means I can eat spinach when I like, rather than in a big glut.
5. Grow Some Winter Veg
Leeks, the ever reliant curly kale (another cut and come again veg), and chard are all good value veg that will provide the grower with good, steady savings during the winter. Although the savings aren’t as big during winter as summer, it’s still good to spread the cash.
6. Grow Reliable Veg
If you want to make savings, my list showed me that you need to grow veg that can be almost guaranteed to thrive on your plot. Caulis, for example, would give me a good saving, but I really struggle to grow them.
Beets, on the other hand, thrive in my soil and always have. Squashes also excel, as do French beans, and none of these veg have ever been affected by disease or pest.
With GYO money saving, I reckon it’s good to know what you’re going to get.