I saw an article like this somewhere else but it varied greatly from what mine would be so thought I would do one of my own. Obviously everyone’s households needs are different, preferences vary, but this would be mine.
1. Tomatoes: If we don’t have enough self sown seedlings we’ll buy one or two trays of six plants but last year we had around 15 plants, a few different varieties. Here a tray of 6 costs around $3.50, we bought one punnet. From these plants we preserved enough supplies to last us a year – frozen pulp and paste, tomato ketchup, barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, sun dried tomatoes (dehydrator) and used in different chutneys. We could’ve made soup also but neither of us is a fan of tomato soup. We ate heaps and gave alot away. We didn’t grow Roma this year but will in the future – they are the best for cooking for their richness in both flavour and colour.
3. Pumpkins: I understand in other countries pumpkins aren’t eaten as much as a vegetable as we eat here here. We eat heaps of it and it’s second on my list because it’s free. We throw the seeds from our fresh pumpkin with scraps into the compost or directly where we want it and it just flourishes wherever seeds are thrown. It must be the easiest vegetable to grow but rambles over alot of space – we often grow it through the chook area. Pumpkin stores really well as long as the conditions are ok for this (cool, dark room, not touching each other, stalk cut a couple of cm from fruit). They also freeze well cut into pieces but don’t take much cooking. Delicious as a veg, excellent in soups, breads, cakes, all sorts of recipes (have never tried pie) pumpkins represent great value for money/ease of growing. We try to grow 30 – 40 a year.
3. Beet / beetroot: One packet of seeds (approx $3) goes a long way with beetroot and this is one of our favourite vegetables for taste and nutritional content. We eat it fresh, grated in salads through most of the year, I have it juiced and we bottle it also, and freeze it for baking. It grows easily and we have never had the slightest problem with disease or pests of any kind. We eat it from baby sized up to very large and it’s always good. Left too long in winter produces woody bulbs so best eaten young through the winter season. Interestingly the best beetroot we have grown (and carrots) happened when Roger planted both together in the same space to finish off two packets of seeds, they like each other!
4. Zucchini: Every plant produces endlessly it seems and we love our zucchini. Baby ones are delicious raw in salads, zucchini are great in stir fries, baked and can be frozen chopped or grated which we used in soups, vegetable pancakes and fritters, cakes and breads, and soups. Marrow, which I despise with a passion goes to our neighbours who love it stuffed. We also make our favourite chutney with zucchini. We grew four plants this year grown from seed – 50 cents maybe.
5. Beans: Picked daily, beans just keep on giving and we freeze heaps of them as a handy vegetable over winter, we also dry them for soups etc.
6. Silverbeet (chard), lettuce and brocolli: Each of these, just picked as needed will last for ages in the garden. We grow silverbeet because it’s nutritious and versatile, is pest and disease free, thrives anywhere and just keep producing for ages. We leave one to self seed and haven’t paid for silverbeet for years. Same with lettuce. We don’t plant the hearting varieties but just pick leaf as needed. Broccoli is our favourite vegetable and the ones that are just finishing would be nearly a year old. On another post in gardening I have written how Roger prunes off leaves as they die, new grow back as do new florets. A pack of six at $2.50 kept us in broccolli for ages.
7. Potatoes: We have had great seasons with potatoes and also very poor and seed potatoes (disease resistant) need to be bought – these aren’t cheap. We get psilid bug here which have devastated our crops some years and are really hard to control. The only way to control is through planting very early and covering through frosty nights so we get good early harvests…unfortunately this year we gave too many away and the bug caught our later crop so we didn’t get enough to last the year out.
8. Garlic: We eat heaps and haven’t needed to buy garlic for planting since our first year here, all garlic has been grown by cloves from the previous years bulbs.
9. Asparagus and Yams (Okra): Permanent crops that take care of themselves easily, multiplying in space as the years go on after that initial expense.
Fruit: Our fig tree and berry plants would top the list of fruits for economy and production. Our fig tree grew quickly right from the start, produced heaps that first summer and every summer since we have just had masses of fruit. Our strawberries started off as a six pack from a nursery and they just continue to multiply, sending out little runners all over the place. We currently have around 20 raspberry plants that started from 6 canes given to us, they multiply rapidly.
This is the original article which spurred me to write this and it differs quite a bit to mine, but it’s excellent as he is able to say the weight he got for his harvests and cost comparisons to growing one’s own to purchasing.