Start Your Garden Now for Cheap Meals All Summer

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated March 27, 2019

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Money Saving Tips
March 27, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Growing a garden takes quite a bit of work, but it can give you access to cheap meals all summer. Before you decide to start a garden, you should think about how much effort you want to invest and how much money you want to save.

Since you want your garden to help you save money, you should focus on vegetables with high prices at grocery stores and farmers’ markets. For example, retailers charge about $1.77 for a pound of tomatoes. The price can get much higher when you buy heirloom and specialty varieties. A pound of tomatoes grown at home costs about 25 cents.

Growing peppers can also help you save money. A pound of peppers at the grocery store costs about $2.37. With the right planning, you can grow a pound of peppers for just 10 cents.

You can also save money by growing:

  • Broccoli
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Asparagus

Some gardens cost more than others. If you want to save money while reaping large yields, contact your local County Extension Office. Many of them offer free soil testing. If you have healthy soil, then you don’t need to spend much money on fertilizers, compost, other additives. You can remove the grass with a shovel and start planting vegetables immediately.

You will save money by purchasing transplants from nurseries. If you plan to garden for more than a few seasons, though, you should consider investing in systems that let you start plants from seed. Eventually, your investment will make growing food very cheap.

To start plants from seed, you will need:

  • Containers
  • Potting soil
  • Grow lights
  • Seeds.

You may also need a heat source depending on your home’s temperature.

Overall, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $150 on a basic setup. (Get more tips on landscaping on a budget here.)

The more produce you get from your garden, the less you spend per pound. Use the following tips to increase your harvest and keep your investment low:

  • Buy seeds or transplants from a reliable source.
  • Learn the right times to plant seeds and transplants.
  • Harden seedlings by exposing them to the outdoors for a few hours a day.
  • Use kitchen scraps and paper to make your own mulch.
  • Stagger your plants to fit more into your garden bed.
  • Choose plants that grow vertically (such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans).
  • Use nets and beneficial insects to keep pests away from your vegetables.

You will get the best return on your garden by using it for several years. You can even collect seeds from heirloom plants to use next year.

Most importantly, choose vegetables and fruits that your family loves to eat! You’ll find this frugal kitchen hack can drastically cut your grocery costs over the summer and into the fall harvest, too.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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