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Garden Like An Investor – The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

This post is sponsored by Tomcat Repellents. As always, all ideas and opinions are entirely my own.

There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it – gardening is hard work! Don’t get me wrong, because I do love gardening. I go overboard planting flowers every year, and we have a few raised beds in the backyard for growing vegetables and herbs. We love eating fresh veggies from our garden, and I enjoy the beautiful flowers I plant all summer long. But as rewarding as gardening can be, it does come at a price. Gardening requires an investment of your time, energy, and money.

As we know, the goal of any smart investment is to get a return – that is, to end up with more than you started with. But when you make an investment, you assume the risk of ending up with less than you started with. A successful investment strategy involves making educated decisions to reduce risk and (hopefully) maximize your return. You can apply the same strategy to your investments of time, energy, and money in your garden! Today I’ll be sharing how thinking like an investor can help you grow your best garden ever.

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Protecting Your Time And Energy Investments

The two biggest investments you’ll make in your garden are your time and energy. And unfortunately, humanity has not yet invented a way to get back the time and energy you spend working on your garden. (You know, beyond the satisfaction of a job well done, or maybe the tan you got while you were working outside.)

The best you can do with your investment of time and energy is to make sure you’re not spending more time or energy than is necessary. In investment terms, this is called “risk management.” So let’s think like an investor! What are some garden-related risks that would require more of your time and energy to sort out, and how can you avoid them?

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Risk 1 – Animals

Animals are great, until they’re in your backyard making a snack out of your vegetable garden. Applying a repellent is a simple step you can take to help keep animals away from your precious plants. Tomcat Repellents have essential oils in their formulas that animals don’t like to smell or taste, which deters deer, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels and other small animals from eating your plants.

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Tomcat Repellents are also long-lasting, rain-resistant, and may be used around people and pets when used as directed. Applying a repellent like this is any easy way to reduce the risk of animals roughing up your garden!

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Risk 2 – Plant Disease

Plants can get diseases just like people can, and if left untreated, those diseases can wreak havoc on your plants, and even decimate your garden entirely. There are plenty of different bacterial, fungal, and viral infections that affect certain plants in certain areas, so here are some good general tips to follow to help avoid plant disease entirely.

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

The first thing you can do to avoid plant disease is keep your plants pruned and your garden free of weeds. This encourages healthy air circulation between and around your plants, and that will keep certain damp-loving bacteria and fungi at bay. (Hate weeding? A layer of organic mulch like wood chips or bark can help keep the weeds down!)

The second thing you can do is make your own neem oil soap spray. This spray is easy to make and can treat many forms of blight, rust, and mildew that commonly affect garden plants. It’s particularly effective on powdery mildew, one of the most common fungal infections you might encounter in the garden.

Related: How To Make Your Own Neem Oil Garden Spray

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Okay, now that we’ve talked about the risks to your time and energy investments in your garden, let’s talk about your money investment. Unlike time and energy, your monetary investment in your garden is something you can actually get a real return on. By making smart choices about what you plant, you can easily make your money back, and then some!

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Maximizing Your Return On Your Money Investment

One of the good things about growing a vegetable garden is that it doesn’t cost that much to get it up and running. You can plant a whole garden for just a few dollars if you plant from seed! And even if you opt to buy plant starts from your local garden center, you’ll still probably spend less than $40 for a small garden’s worth of plants. You can easily double or triple that initial money investment by planting crops that are usually pricey at the store, but don’t take up too much of your gardening space.

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Money Crop 1 – Tomatoes

It is almost universally agreed upon that tomatoes are the best crop to grow for your money. (Especially heirloom or hard-to-find varieties!) Even the fanciest tomato plant starts would cost you less than $5. And depending on the variety, that plant could yield about 20 lbs. of tomatoes in a season. Supposing that plant did yield 20 lbs. of tomatoes, and that those tomatoes generally cost about $3.50 per pound at the store, your $5 investment could return $70 worth of tomatoes. That’s a 1,300% return, monetarily speaking. Not bad, right?

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Money Crop 2 – Herbs

Fresh herbs make all the difference in many recipes, but they’re quite expensive to buy at the grocery store. Luckily for us gardeners, many herbs are easy enough to grow at home! Herbs like cilantro, basil, thyme, rosemary, and sage can be grown quite easily, and they’ll keep producing all season. (You can even grow them right in your kitchen, if you don’t have space for a garden!)

Related: DIY Mason Jar Herb Garden

Take basil as an example. A 3/4 oz. clamshell package of basil might run you $3 at the grocery store. You would likely be able to harvest that amount of basil from a productive plant each week, all summer long! Growing your own fresh herb plant will likely return 100% of your investment the very first time you harvest. As you can see, herbs are a great choice in terms of getting a return from your garden.

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Other Money Crops

Tomatoes and herbs are just the tip of the iceberg for great returns on your monetary investment in your garden. Some other good choices for profitable plants are leafy greens, like lettuces, spinach, and arugula. You can also get a good return on sweet peppers, depending on how they grow in your climate.

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

(Curious about what crops won’t give you a return on your money? Potatoes and beans are inexpensive at the grocery store, so growing your own probably isn’t worth the effort if you’re short on space. And when ears of corn are in season, you can buy them dirt cheap. You may not want to waste time and space on corn plants either!)

The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

Now take these tips and get out there, gardener! You’re ready to handle the risks and reap the rewards of your investment into your garden. :-)

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  • Oh…just a comment. I recently found out that I can buy any seeds that grow food with my food stamp/EBT card. So, if you want a nice big garden, you can get all the seeds and PLANTS (that produce food) that you want. I never knew that so I am going to start growing this year! I live in Iowa, and I think this is a nationwide thing.

  • Nice Tips! These tips are great for getting your own garden fresh vegetables and getting some return on the money you spend. A perfect blend of hobby and healthy vegetables!

  • I don’t mind the ads. I know that Jillee needs to make a living and she is giving such good content that I just glance over the ads.

    I agree with the prioritization of the garden. Tomatoes are a cash crop. I am an urban gardener in San Diego where our lots are postage stamp sized. The cultivar that has been the most successful for me is the “Patio” tomato which has a strong thick main stem and hardy leaves that resemble dark kale leaves. You don’t need to stake this tomato plant and one plant will produce about 30 tomatoes at a time. It is ideally suited for a large patio container – hence it’s name.

    Even in my mild climate I forego the seeds and pick up a strong plant at Home Depot or Armstrong Garden Center for about $4.99 ($3.99 on sale) and I get about $50 worth of tomatoes off of it. Other cultivars like Early Girl and Better Boy and Beefsteak will grow easily from seed but you will need to stake or cage these tomatoes.

    If you live in a warmer climate basil will grow easily from seed for you and it will be ready in time to make your tomatoes into a mozzarella Caprese salad by mid summer.

    I scatter carrot and zuchinni seeds in the flower beds. We don’t have much room for a garden so no space is wasted. The carrots look like ornamental ferns and the zuchinni lay so low that you don’t see them if you have tall annuals.

    Lettuce can be planted in bowl shaped planters – it only needs 3 or 4 inches of root space. I like to use the bowl planters on a raised stand that gets them off the concrete patio as the heat from the patio can fry the lettuce. Once again lettuce is a great payback for the amount of money you spend on seeds because you can harvest 4 or 5 crops during the season if you tend it well.

    Growing a garden is a great idea, especially if you have a large family. You can literally cut hundreds of dollars off your grocery bill in the summer if you have the land to put in some plants.

    • Wow!! I want to live right next door to you! :-) Not to steal from your garden, but so you can help me with mine! You made me hungry. I would love to grow my own lettuce. Never even thought about it, but I am the only one who eats it, so I don’t know. I can’t find a decent tomato even when they are in season in the dang grocery store! I have already printed Jillee’s upside-down tomato planter so that I can grow tomatoes this year, wish me luck! And I also am going to grow fresh basil and ? in my kitchen window using her mason jar idea. So wish me luck there, too! Can anyone out here instruct me on how to care for a basil plant? When picking leaves as needed, do I take from the underside or pick the leaves that are on top…the biggest and oldest? I used to have a green thumb when I was young, but it has since turned brown and brittle! God bless all. :-)

      • The leaves on the bottom are oldest & the closer to the top the younger they are unless it sprouts shoots out from main stem & honestly it just depends on which kind of basil you are talking about but I always get the biggest leaves off first. It is really easy to grow too. I keep it, chives & cilantro in my sunroom all year round & they are all super easy to grow. If you accidentally forget to water them & they are wilted & look dead unless they are crispy leaved then they will usually perk right back up if you just water it good. That’s always a bonus. Just make sure they got some room bc depending on which kind you plant they can grow pretty tall for herbs I guess you can say they can get anywhere from a foot to bout foot & a half or so. Some people don’t realize they grow that big – just think they are gonna stay on the smaller size but they can get pretty decent size if you allow them to. Hope you had fun & come out with lots of produce. Happy Growing!!

      • Oh, Kara, I’m gonna need you living on one side of me and Julie on the other! Here we are with another season nearly gone and I did not get to do much of anything I wanted to do. I am 65 and had some health issues step in and change my summer plans! But I will still hold on to the information you provided me, which I found very helpful. I just want the good ol’ basil that you pick off the leaves, roll ’em up, cut’em, and throw them into my pasta sauce, etc. I was shocked to learn how big they get! Never dreamed that! Thank you SO much for sharing your knowledge with me. I cherish all of the friends I make here at Jillee’s place. God bless you… :-)

  • I like to grow lemon cucumbers in a big pot. They don’t sell them in the stores and farmer’s markets charge about 75 cents each for a little lemon cuke. Last year, my potted plant had about a dozen cukes. Keep up the good work, Jillee!

    • I just discovered these this year & they are so good & Im waiting on the 2nd round of em from our plant now. I hadn’t seen em before until we found a plant at farmers market in town & we just had to give it a try bc it was different.

  • Hi Jillee
    A note regarding potatoes, we really like fingerling potatoes and I find they are not very cheap at the grocery store. But they are extremely easy to grow. One other money crap for us is snap peas. My kids love them, but I don’t buy them at the grocery store. When we grow them they never make it inside, my kids eat them right off the vine. Lastly, this is definitely not a money crop, not even close. But we love the taste of fresh garlic and it’s effortless to grow. Blessings.

    • Garlic is so easy to grow. Plant it in the fall and harvest in the summer. Plus you get the bonus of garlic scapes in spring. No spraying, no insect damage. Organic and way cheaper than if you bought garlic at the store. Most garlic sold in US comes from China.

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