Top 10 Most Cost-Effective Vegetables and Herbs to Grow at Home

In the past few years, the prices of conventional produce have increased steadily. As a result, many families have decided to grow their own food at home, especially vegetables and herbs. Indoor or outdoor, families all over are now enjoying setting up their home organic garden so they can save money, keep their family healthy and of course enjoy that home-grown flavor.

Whether you are new to gardening or are an expert, there are plenty of options for growing your own garden at home. We have compiled a list of the most practical veggies and herbs to plant, based on the recommendations given by garden experts as well as avid home gardeners.  They can give you abundant harvests in a short amount of time too.

They are not only cost-effective but are also easy to grow in your indoor or outdoor home garden. For an outdoor garden, you will need a few simple tools like a quality garden cart.

Here are our top vegetables to grow at home:

Tomatoes

Coming in a wide range of sizes and prices to suit diverse tastes and uses, tomatoes can be utilized in a variety of dishes such as pizzas, pasta, and soups. This is why they are a must-have for any home vegetable garden.

They can actually thrive in small spaces, even in containers, so the garden area is not a problem. If you are out of space outdoors, you can try growing tomatoes indoors. 

One of the best techniques is through container gardening, where you can just put the containers on your balcony, patio, deck or porch so the plants can get enough sunlight.   Among our favorites, these handy burlap grow bags that work great on your patio and can be folded flat for seasonal storage.

As tomato plants grow upward, they need tomato cages that will provide them with the best support and protection. Whether you have a lot of space or a small space, we have compiled a list of highly recommended tomato cages for your tomato plants.  Some you will find are more appropriate for larger gardens and some will work for planters on patios and decks as well.

Best Tomato Cages for Gardens and Pots

  1. Ultomato TMC60 Plant Cage System
  2. EasyGO Products EGP-GARD-020 Cages – Stakes-Vegetable Trellis-3 Pack
  3. Derlights Tomato Cage Assembled Plant Support
  4. Hydrofarm GCTT Tomato 3-Foot Tree Tower
  5. Panacea Products 89768 Galvanized Heavy Duty Inverted Tomato Cage

Tomatoes like Cherry, Roma, and Big Beef take about 12 weeks until ready to harvest and will produce harvests multiple times a year until the plant itself gives the stop signal. However, with proper care and maintenance, these vegetable plants can last for up to 6 years.

​It is also worthwhile to consider that even the most affordable tomato seeds, seedlings or starter plants from your local nursery are sturdy enough to survive harsh weather conditions. Nevertheless, you still need to protect them from direct exposure to the midday sun and shield the ripened fruits from strong winds.

 Get Cherry tomato seeds here.  

Get Roma tomato seeds here.

Get Heirloom tomato seeds here.​

Zucchini

Zucchini is one of the easiest and most affordable vegetables to grow. In fact, one zucchini plant can provide you with about 5 to 10 pounds of fresh veggies during the summer months. It is not unlikely that you will have excess produce that you could opt to sell or give away come harvest time.

They can be grown from pre-packaged seeds to lessen the costs even more. One packet of seeds will cost only a few dollars, but the plants they grow will be able to survive for several years in a climate-controlled environment.

Zucchini plants are versatile and sturdy and can be grown either indoors or outdoors. They are best planted during the early spring so that they will be ready for harvest as soon as the summer season rolls in. Once they bear fruit after 50-60 days (and about 4 inches long), they can be used in a variety of delicious dishes such as zucchini spaghetti, zucchini bread, and many more.

Get Non-GMO Organic Zucchini seeds here!

Lettuce

Gourmet lettuce and lettuce mixes at the grocery have increased in popularity over the past few years, but with demand often comes a steep price tag.  Most families consume lettuce multiple times per week and therefore it is more cost-effective to grow your own lettuce.  While $2 will only get you a small bunch from the grocery, that same amount spent on a packet of lettuce seeds can provide you with enough lettuce to last for at least five months.  Even better – lettuce is among the easiest of vegetables to grow at home in the ground and is extremely adaptable to a container. Harvesting lettuce at mealtime from a closeby container is extremely convenient at mealtime.

Lettuce seeds purchased in a variety pack can provide you with different types of lettuce and mature within a span of 40-75 days. The loose-leaf varieties, those that grow in loose rosettes rather than tight heads, are the easiest to grow and provide the most nutrition.  Colors range from red to different shades of green and will vary in flavor and texture as well. Other types of salad greens grow well next to lettuce or in the same container, adding more options for your salad bowl.

Delicious, Easy to Grow Lettuce

Oak Leaf Lettuce

Black-seeded Simpson Lettuce

Butter-crunch Lettuce

Lettuce and Greens Seed Kit

Arugula Starter Kit

Head forming lettuce such as the Iceberg lettuce is more difficult to grow than the other lettuce types, has the lowest nutritional value. They take longer to mature (about 80 days) and are typically less heat tolerant.

Here is a great step by step guide on exactly how to grow your own lettuce at home.

 Bell Peppers

Bell peppers are fairly expensive, especially the organic variety. While shopping for these colorful, vitamin-packed veggies I’ve seen them upwards of $2.00 each.  For this reason, bell peppers are considered one of the most cost-effective and low maintenance vegetables to grow at home.

They should be started indoors as seedlings from a seedling tray in early spring as they need the warmth of your home during the early stages. Once they are a few weeks old, move them to 3″ pots where they will have room to grow.  About 3 weeks after the last frost, the pepper plants can be transplanted outdoors. Since bell peppers produce fairly small plants, they can be grown at home on your patio in a container garden. A 12″ pot can accommodate the growth of two pepper plants.

They reach maturity after 70-90 days. Green peppers are best harvested as soon as they reach your desired size, but typically around 3-4 inches in diameter and are green and firm.

Red, yellow and orange peppers can take a little more time to mature but are sweeter and are very versatile as to what dishes you can place them in.

Fresh bell peppers can be stored in your refrigerator for 7-8 days and once cored, can be frozen to use later. On average, a single bell pepper plant will be able to produce at least 10-12  peppers come harvest time.

Get Green Bell Pepper Seeds Here  

Get Red Bell Pepper Seeds Here.

Red, Yellow and Orange Bell Pepper Variety Seeds Here

Green Beans

Green beans come in a range of sizes, shapes, and colors. Push beans and pole beans are two of the most common varieties. These green bean types can thrive in small spaces as well as in a variety of weather conditions making them a good plant choice for many home gardeners.

Since a single pound of store bought green beans can already set you back by a few dollars, it is practical to plant your own at home. A single packet of green bean seeds can provide you with more than enough fresh vegetables come harvest time in the spring. You will be able to get at least three pounds of green beans from a single plant.

Make sure that you harvest the beans as soon as they reach maturity after 50-60 days. This way, you will get beans that are young and tender. Also, picking off the mature beans at least once or twice a week will encourage the plant to produce new growth. This ensures you will have enough beans that can last throughout the year. Nevertheless, you should remember to handle the bean stalks with care since they can easily break if you pick off the beans with too much force.

“Bush beans begin producing before pole beans and often come in all at once. Succession planting, every 2 weeks, will keep your bush beans going longer.’’ Source: gardening.about.com

Get organic green bean seeds here.

Broccolis

While a single pound of broccoli can set you back by $1.50, a broccoli plant can provide you with 2 pounds of broccoli at half the cost. Also, while it is best grown during the cooler spring and fall months, it is still possible to plant a few heads right before the first frost comes. It takes 50-100 days for a broccoli to reach maturity. During that time, you should make sure to fertilize regularly the soil since broccoli thrives in rich and fertile environments.

To save on maintenance costs, you can opt to use natural manure instead of costly chemical fertilizers. “Animal manure contains most of the nutrients that crops require, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, boron and iron.” Source: www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca

The sturdiness of the plant and the large yield makes it one of the most profitable vegetables you can grow in your own garden. Likewise, mature broccoli heads can be frozen and kept for a year at most; thus, giving you a reliable supply of vegetables all year round.

Get your broccoli seeds here.​

Garlic

They are known as one of the most versatile vegetables. They are not only used as flavor enhancers but also as a proven cure for various ailments. Unfortunately, the many benefits and uses of garlic also give them a higher price tag. Store bought garlic is usually priced at around $1-7 a pound. Meanwhile, it is extremely cheap to grow your own cloves instead, and for that reason, it is more cost-effective to grow your own garlic.

Newly planted garlic typically take 7-8 months to reach maturity. It is recommended therefore that you plant the garlic cloves in the middle of the fall so they have enough time to mature over the winter and spring months.

To get the best harvest, it is vital that you regularly weed the area around your planted cloves before the first winter snowfall. “Because garlic is an overwintering plant in most regions, it will be necessary to kill the spring cool-weather weeds, and later kill the summer weeds.” Source: www.growingformarket.com

The best time to plant your cloves is three weeks before winter to ensure that the roots will have ample time to mature and that the garlic tops will not break out into the surface before the soil freezes. Once your garlic matures, save a few of the cloves for replanting in the next growing season.

Get garlic cloves here.

Basil, Rosemary, and Parsley Herbs

“Growing your own culinary herbs from seed can be a fruitful endeavor, and add a lot of taste to recipes at a low cost, especially considering how much each little bundle of herbs costs at the store or market, and compared to how cheap a packet of seeds is.’’ Source: www.treehugger.com

Although they are usually used as garnishes on a main meal, basil, rosemary, and parsley nonetheless are excellent source of flavor to your everyday dishes. While they are often sold as pricey dried herbs in groceries, it is relatively easy to grow your own and save yourself a significant amount of money. After all, any one of these herb plants can yield at least 50 times more than the quantity that you get for the same price in stores.

These herbs only require 6 hours of sunlight each day at most, so it is best if you raise them in a covered outdoor area or even inside any part of your house where they can get the required amount of sunlight.

In addition, they can reach maturity within 10-40 days in the springtime, so it is best if you plant them in pots that are between 6-10 inches deep, allowing the roots to grow freely.

Although parsley can easily thrive as an indoor plant, rosemary and basil need to adjust themselves to less sunlight before they can survive indoors.

The best way to ensure that your rosemary and basil plants reach maturity is by gradually adjusting them to less sunlight as they grow. Gradually move your plants from direct sunlight into a deeper shade and allow them to adapt and create new growth before bringing inside your house.

Basil, rosemary, and parsley typically need minimal maintenance only even after they are taken indoors. They just require a few drops of fast-acting liquid fertilizer each week so you will not worry about spending too much.

You can get a variety pack of herb seeds (which has the 3 herbs mentioned above) here.

Ultimately, planting your own vegetables is not merely an effective cost-cutting method but also a convenient way of keeping your family healthy throughout the year.

By having a healthy crop of vegetables ready for harvest through the changing seasons, you will be able to provide your family with healthy meals at a much cheaper price than their store bought counterparts.

Check out this infographic for a quick review.

Further read: how to grow beets!

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