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 Post subject: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:15 pm 
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Baking In The Flavor

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After months of lovingly tending to my 2.5 metre row of peas plants I harvested my peas today. The mountain of pods gave me a meager 200g of peas which would have cost me about 30p ($0.47) to buy from the supermarket - much less than I've spent on them.

It started me thinking about the fruit and veg plants that give you most for your money. Courgettes are an obvious example (at least in my climate), I have one plant from a seed that cost around 30p which is producing courgettes faster than I can eat them and has definitely repaid the 30p investment. I don't garden because I think it'll save me money, but it's nice to think that I am!

What fruit and vegetables do you find you find give you the best return on the money you put in? Are there any which you know will always cost more to grow than to buy?


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:20 pm 
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Lemon cucumbers and ichinban eggplants usually do really well. Except this year, there is nothing. No tomatoes, no basil, no radishes, nothing except lots of dead plants.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:07 pm 
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Tomatoes and winter squash are always cheaper to grow and plentiful. Plus they don't all ripen at once, so that's convenient. I think kale is worth it, too, if you have the space to grow lots. I don't know what kind of peas you grew, but string beans produce a lot and, again, not all at once. I guess carrots sometimes seem not worth it, except that they taste so amazing when you pluck them that it makes it worth it.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:28 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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i think it obviously depends on where you are and how much things cost there. For me, though I love homegrown tomatoes, we have pests that make it impossible to grow tomatoes without serious pest control investment- and when it's tomato season, i can get awesome ones really cheap, so it's just not worth it. In fact, I don't grow anything that's cheap to buy- just not worth my time or money.

i do eat a lot of things that are hard to come by here and those are where i concentrate my effort- russian kale, japanese shiso, snow peas, habaƱeros. Things that are harder to grow (fickle with weather, like cukes) or cheap to buy, i don't even bother.
Other than that, lots and lots of greens and herbs- parsley, cilantro, scallions, dill. Spinach, collards, chard, kale. That way I have them fresh when I want them and can eat them in volume. Kale and collards, peas and string beans and okra, japanese eggplant and thai eggplants are always expensive and are easy to grow so i do them myself. That's about all. And when I can smuggle in some sweet corn seeds, I grow it, because we can't get that here, but that's hard work well worth it when you get a good harvest.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Fresh herbs are much more cost effective to grow than buy, especially cilantro.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:07 am 
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I think that sweet peppers are much cheaper to grow than buy, at least in my climate...red bells are $2 each here. I have frozen quarts of chopped/roasted peppers this season, all from a few dollars worth of seeds. Some varieties do better than others, though. Hungarian hot wax peppers always produce tons...the golden bell peppers, not so much. My long term plan is to keep trying varieties till I find the ones that perform best in my garden.


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Thinks Plants Have Feelings
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Since I still buy a share with a local organic CSA, I grow things to supplement the weekly basket but must have a good yield. This is my second growing season, so I'm still trying to find the sweet spot in terms of what grows well here.

I've not had much success with bell peppers, which are expensive at the grocery store, but the cayennes I'm trying out this year are doing fairly well. The seed came from peppers I saved from the CSA basket. Last year's Brandywines did ok, but this year I'm trying Amish Paste and I'm doing all the right things, like pinching the suckers, etc. I'm hell bent on growing a lot of tomatoes since I'm not satisfied with the quality of bulk purchases through the farm (almost rotting produce is unacceptable!), and I hope to can enough to see us through most of the winter.

Speaking of winter eating, I'd love to grow squash. Especially delicata, my fav. I haven't been able to do this yet and I'll have devote more energy to making this work.

The one thing that's been super successful for me is garlic, which I started from a few CSA bulbs. By my calculations, I should be able to increase the number of bulbs I get each year if I reinvest a part of each harvest. Garlic from China is super cheap, but feels wrong. I love how my homegrown garlic has a strong, fresh flavour.

eryn: Like you, poor snow pea production, I've decided to drop them. I didn't devote a lot of space to them, but there were so few that I never bothered to harvest the pods or take the tender greens for salad.

I agree with Kate: herbs cost a lot at the grocery store! I have a culinary and medicinal herb bed and love that I'm able to step out and cut fresh herbs, or take larger cuts for drying.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:56 pm 
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If you keep picking the pea pods they should produce more, I think? Plus nothing beats eating freshly picked peas. Plus you can use the pods in stock...

My mum has had enormous success with artichokes, she's grown hundreds of them, seemingly with relative ease, and they are very expensive to buy.

I've had rhubarb in my garden for 11 years, and it keeps producing as long as I don't harvest too much at one time. I do absolutely nothing to tend it, although it is pretty near my compost heap so I think it might benefit from nutrients seeping out of the bottom of that. I've also got a patch of chives that seems to take care of itself.

I second the cilantro suggestion. Recently I bought a big cheap bag of coriander seeds for cooking and planted a few to see if they'd do anything and they seem to be growing just fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:51 pm 
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This is my first summer in a new house, so I planted a couple of things I knew were likely to do well: summer squash, scallions, and swiss chard. My last house with a garden, the chard re-seeded itself and we had it whether or not we planted more. If I could have started a few weeks earlier, I would have planted potatoes, too. The veggie I'm not really sure is worth the trouble right now is corn. It hasn't started to produce at all, and I don't think the plants are getting enough sun.

Oh, lettuce and salad things always seem to be better to grow yourself, if you have the problem with letting greens rot in the fridge because you can't get through them in time. It's much easier when I can just pick a little at a time.


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:21 pm 
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I am having lots of luck with zucchini and lemon cucumber. I think lettuce is another thing that is cheap to grow and you get lots.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:30 pm 
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Yesssss to tomatoes and herbs. I usually buy heirloom tomatoes for a minimum of $3/lb here and herbs for $0.75-1.50 a bunch. An heirloom tomato plant cost me $3, as did my thyme and dill, and I got six basil plants for $3. So to recoup my investment, all I need to harvest is 2 heirloom tomatoes and 2 bunches worth of thyme, dill, and basil. My tomato plant-- which was struck by a blight and is underproducing as a result-- has 9 or so fruits on it. My herbs have already repaid me 3 or 4 times over.

My Swiss chard plants are awesome but I know they're not any cheaper.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:38 pm 
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Lots of great suggestions already - I'll add beets to the list, and agree with everyone that greens of all types are high value. I also have fun experimenting with things not easy to find for sale - such as ground cherries (a sweet relative of tomatillos) which I use in everything from salads to pizza, and Orach (Mountain Spinach), which doesn't have the insect, disease or bolting problems of spinach!

I have a huge garden and give away much of what I grow, but a lot of things still aren't worth the space. So no shelling peas for me, and I only grow sugar snaps because the flavor is so much better than store-bought. I hesitate to grow broccoli because of bugs and I wouldn't grow caulifower if my garden were smaller - it takes up too much space for a one-time harvest. Since I have a cooler microclimate than most of you, I hesitate to plant red peppers or eggplants, as they don't do well for me. Eggplants are super cheap at Trader Joes, and I stock up and freeze red peppers from Farmers Markets in late summer/fall, when I can buy organic ones @ 2/$1. Peppers can be chopped up and frozen w/o first blanching.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:01 pm 
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how could i forget tomatillos? they're almost no brainers to grow, resist what kills tomatoes, and yield like crazy.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:07 pm 
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torque wrote:
how could i forget tomatillos? they're almost no brainers to grow, resist what kills tomatoes, and yield like crazy.

I grow the purple variety and freeze them, whole but husked. I use them in salsa and also chop a 1/2 dozen or more to add to tomato sauce for a flavor everyone raves about!

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:43 pm 
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Arugula! Plus it's only like 23-30 days to maturity depending on the varietal.


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:29 am 
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Cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, kale.
Things that would be cheaper to buy: Potatoes, carrots, corn.
I wish I had luck with peppers and eggplant. They're very expensive here.


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:03 pm 
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with the weather being what it is I never know what will do well and what won't so I just try whatever I can find and hope for the best. This year for the first time I have lots of eggplant but only one pepper per plant so go figure. 2 years ago I had canteloupes coming out of my ears for the very first time, although they were quite small. I find that whatever I grow is cheaper in the store because it is the season so I can't really go by what is cheaper to grow. I did though just buy a local buttercup squash on Saturday and gasped when I paid almost $4 for it. I have tons growing in the garden but it's not ready yet.

My issue is finding the seeds to grow heirloom varieties so that I can save the seeds for the following year. When I buy seedlings at the local garden center I hesitate to keep seeds, who knows if it would be edible if grown the following year and I don't want to take a chance.


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:15 pm 
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Max&Moritz wrote:
...My issue is finding the seeds to grow heirloom varieties so that I can save the seeds for the following year. When I buy seedlings at the local garden center I hesitate to keep seeds, who knows if it would be edible if grown the following year and I don't want to take a chance.

As long as they're labeled, you should be able to google most varieties you buy at garden centers and see if they're open pollinated or hybrids. An equally big issue is which veggies are likely to cross-pollinate in your own garden. Winter squash will cross with each other and with the summer squashes. Cabbage family members are also notorious crossers - turnips, rutabagas and assorted Asian greens especially seem to interbreed freely. But open pollinated tomato and green bean varieties seem to be pretty stable.

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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:48 am 
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All the fruit and veg are good. You have find that which veg people mostly used and the fruit are mostly used but depend the which season are running. Halifax Red Cross


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:36 pm 
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Max&Moritz wrote:
My issue is finding the seeds to grow heirloom varieties so that I can save the seeds for the following year. When I buy seedlings at the local garden center I hesitate to keep seeds, who knows if it would be edible if grown the following year and I don't want to take a chance.


I get my seeds from www.cherrygal.com. There are a lot of heirloom varieties and she encourages seed saving. I also like that seed packs are meant for the home gardener, so generally come with a reasonable number of seeds.

As for what's worth it to plant, I plant either unusual varieties that can't be found in stores, or I plant things that taste significantly better when home grown. Right now I have 4 varieties of carrots in my garden, and none are the typical orange carrot I find in the store. I planted purple brussels sprouts this year, so we'll see how those turn out. Where I live we have super mild winters, so I actually just put in my winter garden yesterday and will have carrots, beets, potatoes, and several varieties of greens growing all winter.


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 Post subject: Re: Best value fruit and vegetables
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:20 pm 
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DEG wrote:
As for what's worth it to plant, I plant either unusual varieties that can't be found in stores, or I plant things that taste significantly better when home grown.


I agree. Also stuff that costs an arm and a leg here, like kale. Fresh herbs are a must.

Fennel and kohlrabi are on my list, too, plus green beans, which taste sooo much better homegrown (like tomatoes). And I am happy for most volunteers, like cherry tomatoes, papayas, and kabocha that sprout from what we throw into the compost pile.

Not only are they free, but when they volunteer, very often they like our climate, which means they end up being easy to grow, too.

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