You might be tempted to grow a vegetable garden to save money, picturing lush, productive patches of peas and squash. But actually creating that sort of bounty without spending a large amount on supplies, time and water can be tricky. Good soil is essential---and having the patience needed to improve it without buying expensive soil amendments can reduce your costs considerably.
Choose the vegetables you want to grow based on your family's likes and dislikes and the cost of that vegetable at the grocery store. For instance, broccoli is usually more expensive than cabbage, so growing it may be a better bet to reduce your food bills. If, however, no one in your family likes broccoli, planting a large quantity wouldn't help much.
Prepare the soil thoroughly, adding rotted straw, manure, compost or other organic matter and digging it in to a depth of at least a foot. To kill lawn grass, lay 6 or 8 inches of straw over it and let it sit for three or four months, then dig in. To add organic matter with a minimum of cost, sow the ground with a green manure, seeds of rye, winter wheat, buckwheat or other fast-growing crop, and dig that into the ground when the shoots are 6 inches high.
Sow seeds directly into your garden, following the instructions on the seed packet, or start them indoors in small containers such as plastic food containers or leftover plant pots to get a head start on planting in early spring. Put the containers on a sunny windowsill and keep moist until they sprout.
Harvest your vegetables frequently to keep them producing to get the most for your time, effort and money. Peas, for instance, will stop flowering and producing pods if the older pods start ripening. You can take the outer leaves of lettuce plants, leaving the inner core to continue growing. Broccoli will continue producing flower buds from side shoots once the central head is cut; they are smaller, but useful for stir-fries and soups.