With the cost of living on the rise, growing your own produce from seed is becoming increasingly popular and it’s easy to see why. When you do the sums on the value of a humble packet of seeds, it’s clear that significant savings are there to be had. But how do you narrow down what seeds to grow to get the best bang for your buck? Reputable seed supplier Mr Fothergill’s Seeds has the following advice:
Choosing your crops
If you are looking to start growing your own produce, start by looking for varieties that are expensive to purchase such as herbs, have a short shelf life such as leafy greens, and varieties that produce multiple harvests from one plant such as tomatoes.
Growing your own high value crops is a great place to start for beginners; these sell for a high retail margin at the supermarket and often have a short shelf life too. Try out annual herbs such as coriander, parsley, basil, and dill either in pots or in the garden. Leafy salad greens, microgreens and sprouts are also great options as they are quick to grow, will thrive easily indoors and sell for a premium price making them great bang for your buck when you grow your own.
Let’s consider the cost of baby spinach, a popular salad ingredient. If you purchase a bag from the supermarket, you’re up for around $4 for 120g, and once opened, it usually needs consuming within a day. Conversely, a $5 packet of 250 baby spinach seeds may yield up to 15kg, or $500 of baby spinach throughout the season, and better still, you can harvest it fresh as required!
Multiple harvests can provide food over several weeks or months without the need to replant, saving you precious time in the garden and great value on your seeds. Some of our suggestions include kale, silver beet, tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, zucchini, capsicum, snow peas and perennial herbs including rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
Multiple harvest varieties such as tomato, cucumber, and zucchini are particularly generous producers and may yield anywhere from 10 to 30 fruit per plant. Multiply that by the number of seeds in a packet and the average supermarket price per fruit and your seed packet may produce upward of $1000 worth of produce.
As the old adage of self-sufficiency goes – Give a man a fish and they eat for a day, teach a man to fish and they eat for a lifetime. The same goes for growing from seed. Buy a tomato and you eat for a day; grow a tomato vine and you will eat for the whole season!
It also pays to focus on growing crops seasonally as these will thrive in your climate and will provide the most amount of food. For example, cooler climates will favour many of those brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale, while warmer regions will have a longer season for many of those fruiting crops like tomato and zucchini.
Prioritise foods that you and your family enjoy eating and are happy to use on a regular basis. You may need to become more flexible with your cooking and substitute certain foods in recipes throughout the seasons, which actually makes cooking much more exciting!
If you just can’t get enough of some of those out of season veg or you live in a cool climate you can extend your main growing season using a greenhouse or indoor garden such as a hydroponic unit. Heatpads are also super useful, to give you that head start on your seedlings for Spring.
Sowing your crops in succession is one of the best tips to create keep a steady stream of supply. The idea with this is to sow little and sow often to avoid wasteful gluts of produce in the garden.
To start off have a think about how much your family eats, you may for example use 2 heads of lettuce every week which means you should sow lettuce seeds quite regularly, approximately 5 or more plants a fortnight (to account for any crop losses). In your first season, keep a diary of any produce you were short on, or had excess of so you can adjust accordingly in future seasons. But remember, any excess produce you may have is bound to be well received by neighbours, friends and family!
Key benefits of growing your own:
Cost saving: A packet of seeds can cost less than one kilo/bunch of produce at the grocery store, yet some varieties can yield you thousands of dollars’ worth of produce from one packet.
Cost savings aren’t the only benefit you get from growing your own from seed:
Peace of Mind: Growing from seed allows you to know exactly what has gone into your produce. You can avoid any or all chemicals that you choose.
Better tasting and Nutritious food at your fingertips: Harvest as you need it, picked at optimal ripeness, no nutritional degradation from transport/storing, no more floppy celery or limp parsley sitting at the bottom of the fridge crisper.
Self-sufficiency: Less reliance on the food supply chain.
Better choice: The ability to grow more unique varieties not commonly available at the supermarket.
Enjoyment and satisfaction of picking your own produce knowing that you have played a vital role in nurturing a seed and growing the resulting plant through to harvest.
Environmentally beneficial: Reduce your carbon footprint by growing local, benefits local ecology/biodiversity, soil health, zero waste as you pick what you need.
Educational: Understanding the natural world and the interconnectedness of life, enabling you to make informed choices about your food and environmental impact.
In summary, growing your own produce from seeds can be cost-effective, provide fresher and potentially more nutritious options, and offer the satisfaction of cultivating your own food. It is not as hard as you think either!
For more growing advice visit mrfothergills.com.au
Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds offers Australian gardeners the very best seed, propagation, and garden gift range in the market. Their products adhere to strict quality guidelines ensuring optimum performance and peace of mind when purchasing. Their range is available at all good garden centres nationwide as well as online at mrfothergills.com.au
* The stated yield quantities are provided for informational purposes only and are approximate in nature. Actual yield quantities may vary and are contingent upon a variety of factors, including but not limited to growing conditions, environmental variables, and cultivation practices. We make no guarantees or representations regarding the accuracy or reliability of the stated yields, and they should be considered as estimates only.
All images: Mr Fothergill’s.
This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Mr Fothergill’s.