Deciding what your garden will grow

Hints of spring are everywhere and while it is still too early to plant your outdoor garden, it is definitely not too early to think about it.  Whether you have a very green thumb or you are just a hobby gardener (like me), having a successful garden requires some planning. 

When deciding what to plant this year, you'll want to consider things like the amount of sunlight your garden gets and the soil quality.  I also recommend that you factor finance into your equation.  To make the most of your garden, consider growing vegetables that cost you the most to purchase at the grocery store.  You might be surprised at the huge range of prices for fresh vegetables.  For example, according to the USDA, collard greens cost an average of $2.92 a pound while you can buy a pound of carrots for only 54 cents

In addition to collard greens, it pays to plant:

  • Cherry tomatoes, $1.87 per pound
  • Green peas $1.83 per pound
  • Asparagus $1.67 per pound
  • Turnip greens $1.68 per pound
  • Okra $1.69 per pound

Things you might want to skip growing and buy at the store instead include carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes.  All of these vegetables cost less than 60 cents a pound to purchase.

If you also grow fruits, I highly recommend blackberries and raspberries which cost an average of almost $4.00 per pound to purchase (and are awesome for making jellies and jams that last well past harvest season!) While watermelons are fun to grow, they cost a mere 32 cents per pound to purchase.

Of course, it is wise to grow the types of food that you enjoy eating.  Also, consider starting the growing season early—indoors.  Starting plants from seeds can be very a satisfying way to treat Spring Fever and save you a great deal of money. 

All costs came from the USDA report titled How Expensive Are Fruits and Vegetables?

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.