How to save $144 a year on one grocery item

 

Spring gardening - it's like growing money on trees

One of the biggest COVID trends - along with push-up challenges, jigsaw puzzles and sourdough baking - is vegetable gardening. Back in autumn, when many of us first went into lockdown, some hardware stores even sold out of seedlings.

The vegetable gardening craze was partly fuelled by people reacting to record high grocery prices. Even the humble iceberg lettuce was $7! High produce prices were caused by a number of factors, including demand (ie: stampede to buy supermarket supplies) and shortages due to the drought and then bushfires.

Many have embraced the joy of home gardening for good.
Many have embraced the joy of home gardening for good.

Nearly six months on, grocery prices have stabilised. But many have embraced the joy of home gardening for good.

Some people garden for relaxation and stress relief. Many friends have shared that - now they are spending more time at home - what a joy it is to spend time watching their plants grow. That joy is only matched by being able to harvest their crops and serve them fresh at dinner.

There are strong environmental reasons for growing your own fruit and vegetables. Homegrown generally uses less heavy-duty fertilisers and pesticides. Who wants their children or pets to be exposed to harmful pesticides? Often home gardeners will come up with inventive ways to nurture their background crops, such as companion planting, squashing caterpillars or invasive bugs as they see them, or homemade remedies. Picking from your backyard also reduces food miles. Does home gardening save money?

When you add up the costs, growing and harvesting your own food can be like growing dollar bills on a tree. Picture: Sean Davey
When you add up the costs, growing and harvesting your own food can be like growing dollar bills on a tree. Picture: Sean Davey

It's easy to get spendy in the garden. Walk into any garden store and you will find fancy pots, pretty plants, garden gnomes, wind chimes, garden gloves and fertilisers that tempt. But there are cheaper ways to get results. On our small, shady balcony we grow pots of herbs and vegetables. We're limited in what we can grow. For instance, we've given up on tomatoes but found parsley grows well.

You might wonder if the time and effort put into growing things in an urban environment is worth it. But when you add up the costs, growing and harvesting your own can be like growing dollar bills on a tree. Cut and come again herbs and crops are especially useful.

For instance, instead of spending $3 or more for a whole parsley bunch, which I might not use all of, I go out and snip what I need. Assuming I would have otherwise bought a bunch of parsley a week, I can easily save $12 a month - $144 a year - on one abundant parsley plant.

Chillies have an especially high return on effort. Chillies can be up to $60 a kilo, so if you are a chilli lover you can save a fortune!

Some crops are more prolific than others. In my old house I had rocket growing like, well rocket, when it sprung up unexpectedly after autumn rains. I laugh when I see it being sold at over $30 a kilogram - there was a time when I was giving it away!

Watch Serina Bird on Channel 10's Studio 10 this morning for more savvy tips


 

Originally published as How to save $144 a year on one grocery item


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