However, if you’ve only got limited space, then something has got to give. Planning for growing in the garden, I’m in just this position. My growing space is going to be cut to roughly a third of what I have on the allotment, and this can only lead to tough decisions.
When I ran my GYO money-saving experiment last year, it was really interesting to note the space versus cost in the shop ratios.
For example, my recent cauliflower (minor) success has given this veg a potential reprieve, but can I give up valuable space to such fickle and unreliable veg (see last year’s attempt in the picture!)? We don’t eat many caulis after all. If I really want a big old lump of cauliflower cheese to cheer me up on a cold winter’s night I can get a tip-top English one from the shop for just 85p.
Intriguingly, potatoes were the tenth biggest money saver, but I think they’re off the agenda next year, as I took up a whole bed growing just 15kg of tatties, saving me about £19. At £2 for 2.5kg in the shops, the spreadsheet says no. Some pink fir apples in a bag might be a compromise…
Onions fall into the same bracket as potatoes: English varieties are available all year round in the shops, and they’re cheap as chips to buy – under a quid for a bag of 6 at the local co-op.
Garlic is an interesting one. Like onions, it is very cheap to buy in the shops, but if you do have space, it is worth growing on the basis that finding English garlic is almost impossible. Cutting down food miles is a great reason to grow your own, and garlic is a staple of many people’s cooking.
I really, really want to grow some sweetcorn next year. I’ve never been able to at the allotments because the badgers wolf the kernels down before anyone can get there to harvest. So I was looking forward to getting amongst some cobs in the garden next year. Trouble is, my mum grew sweetcorn this summer, and each plant took up a lot of space but only provided 3-4 cobs.
My greengrocer sells 3 local corn on the cobs for £1.50 during the season, which again is very cheap and there is no chance of the badgers getting them there. They’re delicious too, especially as a dessert drizzled with maple syrup…
Don’t Grow What You Don’t Eat
Of course, my list for next year’s fruit and veg will also be decided by what we don’t each much of. We’re not big Brussel sprouters, and I’d rather eat my feet than a turnip or celeriac so we use the space for other veg that is popular in our house, like beets; or good freezers such as French beans.
It seems obvious, but I know when I started out, I grew everything under the sun regardless of whether I liked the veg or not. I’ve got much more focus now, and tend to tie my annual growing down to the favourite stuff together with two or three experiments.
It’s Not Just About the Cash!
I blather on about money-saving a lot, but growing your own veg is also about taste and pleasure. The cash aspect is interesting though, and certainly aids the decision-making process when planning patches and ploughing through seed catalogues.
What I eat and what saves me cash will form the basis of my patch next season, but I am going to sow a few sly sweetcorn and cauli plants, as well as some other bonus veg. I’ll stick to my plan, but if there are a few stray spaces going I’ll stick them in there and see what happens.
A little randomness in amongst the order never hurt anyone eh.