How to Start a Garden to Save Money on Food

You don’t need tons of acreage to grow food. Even a few containers and a bit of sunshine can make it possible to enjoy produce that is both fresher and far cheaper than what you’d find at a supermarket, or even a farmers market.

The payoff can be significant. The trick to making the effort worth your time is to plan and maintain a garden that is right for you.

Consider your space

Start by evaluating your space and top picks for crops.

Some plants (corn, lettuce) take an enormous amount of space and may crowd out anything in their path. Others, such as tomatoes or radishes, don’t require much room at all.

Note that some plants need full sun, while others need a break from the heat. And, of course, you don’t want to garden on top of tree roots. Better Homes & Gardens has a terrific starter guide to help you plan your garden. It even has a “gardening where you live” guide that will help you choose the right plants for your region’s climate.

Choose your plants strategically

Prioritize which plants you want and to learn how they grow best. A guide to small-space gardening in Mother Earth Living magazine explains it this way:

“Which crops are at the top of your list and which will you squeeze in only if you have the space? As part of that process, you’ll want to take a close look at how much room each plant requires for healthy growth. Armed with this knowledge, you may choose to grow more plants that require minimal space per plant (salad greens) and fewer plants that sprawl (squash).”

Think about which fruits and vegetables you enjoy. Plants that yield the most bang for the buck — again, depending on your climate and conditions — are:

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

Sunset.com has a terrific starter guide of options for your edible garden.

Don’t just buy the seeds and hope for the best. That can backfire. For example, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers won’t do well if they are planted in cool, spring soil. Refer to GardensAlive for a handy guide that tells you which plants do best in cool weather, warm weather or even indoors.

Keeping your garden growing

Once your garden is started, plan how often to water, fertilize and harvest. Many of those particulars depend on the size of your garden, its location and the type of plants grown. Eartheasy offers practical tips on choosing soil, checking pH levels and more.

Herein lies one of the biggest challenges — persistence. If you want your garden to pay off, you need to stay with it.

Preserve the bounty

Sure, you want to eat as much of the fruits and vegetables you grow as possible. But what about extras? You can take some to neighbors or co-workers, but leave enough for yourself to preserve and enjoy in the fall and beyond.

University of Minnesota Extension provides a guide on how to best store and preserve your bounty. Eating Well also provides tips for the best ways to lock in the flavors of fresh produce and freeze them. If you plan to can, do so carefully to make sure home-canned food remains safe. The National Center for Home Food Preservation offers guidance.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
These 12 Reusable Products Save You Money Over and Over
These 12 Reusable Products Save You Money Over and Over

Buy reusable versions of these household items, and you won’t have to spend another dime on them for years.

22 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On
22 Purchases You Should Never Skimp On

With some items, it makes sense to pay a little more rather than hopping on the lowest price.

Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks
Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks

Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some ways to game yourself into stashing more cash.

17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money
17 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money

Here’s how to cut household costs and maintain your property’s value.

3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2020
3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2020

Still married to your cable company? Hold on to your wallet!

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do
The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do

Tired of age discrimination? Businesses are clamoring for older workers to fill certain roles.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

9 Things That Are Free in August
9 Things That Are Free in August

As summer enters the home stretch, we’ve rounded up these sizzling freebies.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.