Shrink Your Grocery Budget by Growing Your Food


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

You could save some green by planting some green. Read our rundown on how to maximize the profits from your garden.

Now that we’ve survived this year’s long, cold winter, it’s time to think about more sunny subjects – such as gardening.

Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson discovered that getting your hands in the dirt isn’t only good for the soul, it’s good for the budget too. Watch the video below to learn how much people are saving by growing their own food. Then keep reading for tips to get you started.

Really, how much can you save?

Well, that’s something of a tricky question. It seems to depend on who you ask. Here are two examples.

Now, to be fair, the Times columnist appears to have had a lot of startup costs that wouldn’t repeat year after year. Meanwhile, the Burpee calculation doesn’t seem to take any of those costs into consideration at all.

Meanwhile, Gail Langellotto, statewide coordinator for the Oregon State University Master Gardener program, analyzed the findings of six reports on the subject. She found that gardens yield an average of 74 cents worth of produce per square foot planted. However, most of the studies she used were quite old – dating to the 1970s and ’80s – which could mean their results may not correlate to those of gardeners using newer seed hybrids and gardening methods.

Since the data out there is murky and anecdotal at best, MTN contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their take on the issue. A department representative had this to say about the Burpee claim:

I think the “accurate” answer is that it’s possible under the right conditions … but a yield of that size depends on so many factors: site selection, availability of light, soil condition, adequate water and nutrients, temperature, as well as pests and diseases.

Bottom line? You probably can save money by gardening, but you need to do your homework first.

3 steps to gardening success

When it comes to doing your gardening homework, start by going over these three simple rules for gardening success.

  • Be realistic about what you like and what you’ll eat. Tomatoes and peppers may be easy, but if they never pass by your lips, they’re a waste of money to grow. Maybe your family goes through potatoes and strawberries like nobody’s business. That’s where you should focus your gardening efforts instead.
  • Be realistic about what you can grow. You may love oranges, but I guarantee an orange tree is going to be a disappointment in your Minnesota backyard. You need to understand what can thrive in your area before you run out and drop a lot of cash on seeds and supplies. That means knowing your hardiness zone, the type of soil in your ground, and how much sun your proposed garden spot will get.
  • Be prepared to preserve and share your bounty. When a garden is successful, it can be really successful. As in, you’ll have zucchini, broccoli and lettuce coming out of your ears. Before you’re faced with baskets of overflowing produce, learn a little about canning and freezing. And don’t forget to spread the wealth by sharing some of the excess with family, friends and community service organizations.

The most profitable plants for your garden

Once you know what plants you and your family will eat and which ones will grow in your area, you may have more options than space. You can whittle down your short list by concentrating on those plants that are most profitable.

While conducting her analysis, Langellotto found the following plants had the greatest economic benefit:

  • Salad greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries

Again, her research included a number of older studies, and yields for some crops may be different today.

A more recent analysis (although still more than 5 years old) of profitable garden plants was completed on the Cheap Vegetable Gardener blog. The blogger compared crop yields to average grocery prices and found the following plants were likely to save you the most money:

  • Cilantro
  • Arugula
  • Green salad mix
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry, small and medium tomatoes

All of these plants had a value of more than $15 per square foot, with a square foot of cilantro being worth $21.20. Visit the blog at the link above to see the entire list of vegetable values.

Where to go for more help

Since MTN is a personal finance site, we can only tell you so much about the nuts and bolts of planting your garden. We can, however, direct you to a number of resources on the Web covering everything from starting seedlings to finding a community garden plot.

Here are a couple of our favorite gardening sites:

  • The National Gardening Association. It offers gardening guides, a zone finder and gardening calculators.
  • My Square Foot Garden. For those with small spaces, square-foot gardening can help you make the most of every inch. Although there are plenty of websites and books on the subject, this blogger has put together an easy-to-read, step-by-step primer on the process.
  • American Horticultural Society. Use this website to find gardening maps, Master Gardener programs and societies, clubs and organizations in your area.
  • Old Farmer’s Almanac. It contains beginner tips, garden plans and planting dates.
  • American Community Gardening Association. If you don’t have room on your property for a garden, this website can help you find a community plot nearby.

Do you have experience gardening? Share your advice and tips in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money Pit

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,978 more deals!