Growing your own food can be a great way to save money and eat healthily, especially during tough economic times. Not only does it help you save on your grocery bills, but it also ensures that you know exactly what goes into your food. But what are the best foods to grow if you want to save money? In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best options for the UK climate.
Benefits of Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food offers numerous benefits, including cost savings, health benefits, and environmental benefits. By growing your own food, you can save a significant amount of money on your grocery bills, especially if you grow vegetables that are expensive to buy in the supermarket and learn how to save the seeds.
Another benefit of growing your own food is that you know exactly what goes into your food. You can avoid the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals, growing truly organic fruits and vegetables.
It’s also a great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors, as well as a fun and rewarding hobby that brings a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Factors to Consider When Choosing What to Grow
When choosing what to grow, there are several factors to consider, including climate, soil type, and space limitations. In the UK, the climate can be quite variable depending on the region, so it's important to choose plants that are suited to your specific climate. Ultimately, in the UK, there is one main growing season after the last frost in approximately end of March to April time, and and harvesting happens in the summer to autumn.
However there are some plants that offer two crops such as early and late potatoes, as well as some vegetables that can be grown in the winter months, and even salads that can be grown all year round.
Additionally, different plants have different soil requirements, so it's important to choose plants that will thrive in the type of soil you have. If you're not sure what type of soil you have, you can take a soil sample and have it tested by the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) for a fee with their soil analysis service. Or, if you’re building raised beds or planters, or using containers and pots, then you can buy organic vegetable growing compost from your local garden centre. You can also make your own compost at home.
Finally, space limitations can also be a factor, especially if you have a small garden or limited outdoor space. However, there are plenty of options for growing food in small spaces, such as container gardening or vertical gardening. There are even some plants you can grow inside your home in wall pockets or on windowsills. Keep reading to discover the best types of plants to grow indoors.
The Best Foods to Grow to Save Money
Growing your own food is a great way to save money and eat healthy, and there are many budget-friendly options to choose from. Here are our top picks for the best foods to grow to save money.
Carrots are a great food to grow if you're looking to save some money on your grocery bills. They're versatile, tasty, and packed with nutrients, making them a great staple to have in your garden. Plus, they're pretty easy to grow, even if you don't have a lot of outdoor space.
A pack of carrot seeds won’t set you back much and they are tiny seeds, so you usually get 100s or 1000s per pack, giving you great value for your money. At the time of writing Seed Parade are selling packs of 2000 nantes carrot seeds for just 99p. As you can begin to see, once you are set up with a plot to grow your vegetables and your own compost, it is much more cost-effective to grow your own!
By growing your own carrots, you can ensure that you're getting fresh, healthy produce without breaking the bank. And the best part? Carrots can be stored for a long time, so you can enjoy them throughout the year, even when fresh produce is more expensive.
Potatoes are a staple food in many households and are relatively easy to grow. They are very cost-effective, as a single potato can produce multiple plants!
Also, potatoes can be stored for long periods of time, making them a great option for winter months when fresh produce can be expensive.
Some popular varieties in the UK include Maris Piper, King Edward, and Charlotte. Potatoes are typically planted in the spring, once the soil has warmed up and the risk of frost has passed. In the UK, this is usually around late March or early April.
The best way to grow potatoes is to keep adding more soil to cover the plants as the green shoots come through the soil. This encourages the plant to keep growing and produce even more potatoes!
Once the leaves have died back, you can harvest the potatoes and store them in a cool, dark place. Or you can keep taking the potatoes as you need them, during the growing season, without harvesting the whole crop, and let the potato plant keep producing for as long as possible.
If you're a salad lover and want to save some money on your grocery bills, growing your own salad greens is a great way to go. It's super easy to do, even if you don't have a lot of outdoor space. All you need is some well-draining soil, seeds, and water!
To get started, simply plant your seeds in a pot or container with soil and keep them watered throughout the growing season. Once the leaves have grown big enough, you can start harvesting them and enjoy fresh, healthy salads all season long.
The best part about growing your own salad greens is that you can mix and match different varieties to create the perfect salad for your taste buds. Plus, you can be sure that your greens are free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals that can be found in store-bought produce.
There are many types of salad greens that can be grown in the UK, but some of the best options include:
Lettuce is one of the most popular salad greens and can be grown in a variety of climates. There are many different types of lettuce to choose from, including romaine, butterhead, and looseleaf.
Spinach is another popular salad green that is packed with vitamins and nutrients. It can be grown in a variety of soil types and is relatively easy to grow.
Rocket has a slightly spicy flavor that can add a unique twist to your salads. It can be grown in most soils and is quick to mature.
Mustard greens have a slightly bitter flavour that can add a lot of flavor to salads. They can be grown in most soils and prefer cooler temperatures.
Kale is a nutrient-dense green that is becoming increasingly popular in salads. It can be grown in a variety of soils and is relatively easy to grow.
It’s also possible to grow some salad greens on a sunny windowsill in your home. Here are some of the best options:
Microgreens are essentially baby salad greens that can be grown in a small amount of space. They are harvested when they are only a few inches tall and can be grown in trays or small pots on a windowsill.
Many herbs, such as basil, parsley, and coriander, can be used in salads and can be grown on a windowsill. They require plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil.
Some varieties of lettuce, especially looseleaf, can be grown in a pot on a windowsill. Make sure to choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Did you know you can also re-grow some lettuce varieties in a glass? This is a great way to get the most money out of your lettuces! Here's how to do it:
Next time you use the leaves from a head of lettuce, keep the base intact.
Place the base of the lettuce in a glass or jar with about an inch of water.
Place the glass in a sunny location and change the water every few days.
After a few days, you should start to see new leaves emerging from the base of the lettuce.
Once the new leaves have grown to a decent size, you can harvest them and use them in salads or sandwiches.
This method works best with lettuce varieties that have a solid base, such as romaine or cos lettuce. It's a fun and easy way to extend the life of your lettuce and get more use out of it.
Herbs are a great way to add flavour to your meals and can be very expensive to buy fresh in the supermarket. Fortunately, many herbs are easy to grow and can be grown indoors or outdoors. They can be harvested throughout the growing season and can be dried or frozen for use during the winter months.
To grow herbs, you'll need to plant seeds or seedlings in soil and keep them watered throughout the growing season. Once they're big enough, you can harvest the leaves and use them fresh or dry them for later use. You can cut and use what you need, leaving the rest of the plant growing so as not to waste any.
There are many herbs that can be grown in the UK, but some of the best options include:
Basil: a fragrant herb that is commonly used in Italian dishes. It can be grown indoors or outdoors and requires plenty of sunlight.
Parsley: a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and sauces. It prefers cooler temperatures and can be grown in containers or in the ground.
Thyme: a hardy herb that is often used in Mediterranean dishes. It can be grown in most soils and prefers full sun.
Rosemary: a fragrant herb that is often used in roasted dishes and can be grown in containers or in the ground. It prefers well-draining soil and full sun.
Chives: a mild herb that can be used in a variety of dishes. They prefer cooler temperatures and can be grown in containers or in the ground.
Tomatoes are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. They are also relatively easy to grow and can produce a large number of fruits per plant. Tomatoes can be grown in containers or in the ground, and many tomato varieties can be grown vertically, making them a great option for those with limited space.
Tomatoes need plenty of water and sunlight to thrive, so make sure to keep them well-watered and in a sunny location. Once the fruits have ripened, you can harvest them and use them in a variety of dishes. You can also dehydrate them or sundry them to preserve for use in salads, breads and pasta dishes.
Consider planting fruit trees
While we have focused on vegetables, herbs and salads in this article, we haven’t yet touched upon fruit trees. If you have the space in your garden then fruit trees are the gift that keep on giving!
Apple trees, plum trees, pear trees and cherry trees, to name a few, are popular in the UK and can provide an abunduant crop of fresh fruits year after year.
Also, raspberries and blackberries are easy to grow in the UK and return every year, helping you to save more money on your food and adding sweetness to your new edible garden.
Tips for Growing Your Own Food
Luckily there are lots of tips online for beginners such as videos and websites to help you start growing your own vegetables. To ensure the best results when growing your own food, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
Choose a sunny location
Most vegetables and herbs need plenty of sunlight to thrive, so make sure to choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Use well-draining soil
Most plants prefer soil that drains well and is not too compacted. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider adding compost or other organic matter to improve the soil structure.
Most plants need regular watering to thrive, especially during hot, dry weather. Make sure to water your plants thoroughly and regularly, but avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
Protect from pests
Pests like slugs, snails, and aphids can damage your plants and reduce your harvest. Consider using organic pest control methods like hand-picking or companion planting to keep pests at bay.
Final Word: What is the Best Food to Grow to Save Money?
Growing your own food can be a great way to save money and eat healthily. According to the Express, you could save £690 per year by growing your own vegetables! With food inflation not stopping anytime soon, it’s a good idea for all of us to consider.
By choosing cost-effective options like potatoes, salad greens, herbs, tomatoes, and carrots, you can enjoy fresh, healthy produce all season long. Remember to choose a sunny location, use well-draining soil, water regularly, and protect from pests to ensure the best results.
Even if you have a tiny garden, you can grow in containers, on windowsills in your home, or you can plant vertically. Start growing your own food today and enjoy the many benefits of this rewarding hobby!