Growing your own vegetables can save you money at the grocery store and provide your family with tasty, healthy vegetables. But establishing a garden can be expensive. Purchasing plants and supplies without proper planning can quickly erase any savings from a home garden. The best way to save money growing your own vegetables is to avoid wasting money on unnecessary supplies and making the best uses of the resources available.
Plant the right vegetables for your climate. Consult your local Agriculture Extension Agent to learn the varieties that are suitable for your climate. The Extension Agent can also tell you the best times to plant so you don't lose new plants to late freezes. Also, plant vegetables your family will eat.
Test your soil. Plants require certain nutrients, particularly nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, in order to thrive. You can purchase an inexpensive soil test kit to help you identify the nutrients you need to add to the soil.
Prepare the soil. Work in composted manure, peat moss, compost and other nutrients prior to planting. Remove weeds and rocks and rake the soil to break up clumps and provide your plants with a healthy environment in which they can thrive.
Look for free sources of compost such as local stables or chicken farmers. Most places will give you all the manure you want if you're willing to haul it away. Start a compost pile to turn your kitchen and yard wastes into free fertilizer for your garden.
Plant seeds whenever possible. Packets of seeds are much cheaper than seedlings. Read the directions on the back of the seed packet to find out how to care for your seedlings. Most seeds can be planted indoors 8 to 12 weeks before you'll want to transplant them outdoors, but some seeds need to be sown directly into the garden.
Give your plants the right amount of water. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Plants that are allowed to dry out too much will grow more slowly and won't produce as much. Plants that are too wet will succumb to fungus and other diseases.
Mulch your plants to keep down weeds and conserve water. Look for free sources of mulch such as newspaper and raked leaves.
Preserve excess produce by freezing, drying or canning vegetables you can't use right away. This prevents waste and gives you vegetables for the table for winter, when fresh produce is more expensive.