Growing your own food can be affordable | gardening tips

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Jhere are some horticultural myths that may seem as common as bindweed. While many of these are fairly harmless, the one I find most problematic and enduring is the idea that growing your own fruits and vegetables is a cheap and viable solution for those facing food insecurity. .

Most of the time, the reality is that growing it yourself is, at best, slightly more expensive, if not outrageously expensive, compared to shopping in supermarkets. This is especially true for those just starting out, given the high fixed costs that are required to produce food on a scale that would make even the smallest dent in household spending. I once calculated, for example, that it would be cheaper for me to have the fanciest organic DOP French potatoes delivered from a department store in Knightsbridge in gift wrap than to buy a grow kit. potatoes on balcony.

But if you plan to grow your own for pleasure, flavor, and to find hard-to-find options in supermarkets, the outlook is brighter. There are three groups of crops where the cost-benefit ratio tilts in your favor: herbs, salad greens and berries.

First, let’s look at fresh herbs. These are, gram for gram, probably the most expensive products on the market. Most classic grasses are of Mediterranean origin, giving them a hardy constitution that tolerates drought, low fertility, and exposed sites, and makes them able to ignore most pests and diseases. This means they are a good option for beginners. In fact, because these plants have evolved the ability to produce their fragrant aromas as a chemical defense against harsh growing conditions, stressing them can measurably intensify their flavor.

I don’t know about you, but fresh herbs are also the foods most likely to go bad in my fridge before I finish the package. Right up there with the lettuce leaves, which consistently come out on top of crops for food waste. Luckily, it’s also relatively easy to grow your own lettuce, especially if you choose the right varieties. Arugula, mustard, and watercress often escape cultivation to become weeds, which makes them really simple. If you let some of them self-seed, they’ll appear year after year, so you won’t even have to sow them again.

Finally, grow berries. Yes, plants can be expensive to start with, but they’re also extremely easy to propagate, so if you know someone who grows berries, a cutting or two is fine. Perhaps the simplest is the black currant family, specifically black currants. Stem cuttings can root in a few weeks. Raspberry plants are also super vigorous and grow easily. A single packet of wild strawberry seeds will get you 50 or more plants, which isn’t bad for a crop that’s often only available from high-end restaurant suppliers.

Growing your own is a wonder for many reasons, but if you’re getting your money’s worth, start with these three easy-to-grow crops.

Follow Jack on Twitter @Botanygeek

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