In the current state of our economy, grocery prices continue to climb and there’s no true end in sight. Luckily for consumers, some stores, like Weis Markets, are initiating a price freeze on popular products that appeal to their customers, promising they won’t raise the price on those groceries for the foreseeable future.
Despite these price freezes – and even the use of coupons – consumers need to find other ways to save money and reduce expenses in the current economy. Last year was a big year for consumers starting their own vegetable gardens, and this year is expected to have an even bigger gardening surge.
In the spirit of saving money in creative ways, George Ball, chairman and CEO of Burpee, shares the following tips for beginner gardeners and anyone who wishes to grow a vegetable garden and save some money on groceries this year.
Q. Life Love Beauty – Roughly how much can a couple or a small family save in grocery money by growing their own produce?
A. George Ball (Burpee) –
A couple – $500-$700
Small family – $1,000-$2,000
Q. Life Love Beauty – Typically, how long is the growing season for the different “zones” in the US? How many months of home grown veggies can gardeners expect in a typical season?
A. George Ball (Burpee) – 10 months, deep South to 4 months far North, 6 months of home grown veggies
Q. Life Love Beauty – What are the best veggies to grow with grocery store savings in mind?
A. George Ball (Burpee) – Green Beans, Large Tomatoes, Colored Bell Peppers, Sugar Snap Peas
Q. Life Love Beauty – What are some veggies that may seem challenging or intimidating but aren’t?
A. George Ball (Burpee) – Green Beans, Peas, and Cucumbers
Q. Life Love Beauty – Do you have any tips for beginner gardeners who want to try and slash their grocery bill this year?
A. George Ball (Burpee) – Implement succession planting. Begin planting cooler weather crops such as lettuce in the spring, then move to warmer weather crops like tomatoes and peppers, and then back to cool weather crops like spinach, radishes, etc. Burpee developed the Money Garden seed pack especially for this purpose / new gardeners.
Q. Life Love Beauty – What kinds of veggies are the easiest to grow for even those who haven’t tried gardening ever before?
A. George Ball (Burpee) – Radish, Lettuce, Potatoes, Onions
Q. Life Love Beauty – Do you have any other facts or statistics on growing veggies and/or saving money that may apply to this topic?
A. George Ball (Burpee) – Yes. See price comparisons…Homegrown versus store-bought veggies.
COMPARISON PRICES OF HOMEGROWN VS. STORE BOUGHT (courtesy of Burpee)
A tomato—from one plant—you’ll get bout 40 to 50 medium to large fruit, per season. At the stores, they run about 75 cents to a dollar each, or 35 dollars to 45 dollars per season from one plant.
A seed packet contains, say 25 guaranteed seeds out of 30 total. Place the average at 40 dollars, multiply it times 25, and you get a thousand dollars worth of store bought tomatoes from a 3 dollar to 4 dollar packet of seed. This is a ratio of 1:250. Ten times my (George Ball, Burpee’s Chairman) average ratio. If someone says, wait, what about fertilizer, etc. you’re still looking at an incredible level of savings. Say the tomatoes go on sale, at 50 cents each, ratio is still 1:125 or 150. Way over 1:25.
A large red bell pepper—from one plant—you’ll get about 10 to 15 peppers, maybe 20 tops, per warm season.
At stores, these run around $1.50 each. So, average 15 times $1.50 is $22.50 per plant. Seed runs at 10 seeds for $3.00 or 30 cents/seed. From 10 seeds guaranteed germ, you get ten plants resulting in 10 times $22.50 and the yield from the packet is $225.00. Ratio this time is less, since peppers are less productive, at 1:75. So, on sale would drop it a bit as would any extraordinary costs or insect problems or cold snap.
Sugar Snap Pea
Sugar Snap Pea—from one plant (vine)—an average customer gets just over a pound, but be conservative and say a pound per plant. (FYI they run about 90 to 100 pods per pound.) They go in stores anywhere from $3.50 to $4.00 a pound. Say $3.75 a pound bag. Seed runs about 150 seeds for $1.50, in general. Or a penny a seed. However, they get “thinned” by 2/3, so that’s 50 vines for 3 cents per. Fifty vines yield fifty pounds @ $3.75 store bought comp. So, a $1.50 packet of seed yields $187.50 worth of sugar snap peas. An average 1:100 ratio this time allowing for the fencing, etc. Unless you like stringing vines, which I happen to do.
Beans, green snap beans, have a similar profile, of about 1:90, or 1:80, depending on the bean. Haricot verts will be less, since they’re less productive, as well as more expensive at the store, maybe 1:40. Real bargain in flavor, especially, unless you live next door to a farmer’s market.
– All information provided in this comparison is courtesy of Burpee.
Tips on When to Start Your Veggie Garden Seeds
If you are like many beginner gardeners, you may be wondering when to start your vegetable garden seeds, and whether you should start them inside or wait and plant them outside. Growing vegetables from seed is a very interesting and rewarding process. The tender loving care you give to your seeds, seedlings, and plants returns to you many fold in the crops your vegetable plants produce for you.
Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants should be started indoors, shares George Ball, chairman of Burpee, adding that all other seeds can be started outside. He also notes that seedlings should be six to eight weeks old when taken outside and planted in your garden, and the best time to plant your veggie seeds is after the threat of frost is over in your USDA Hardiness Zone.
About the Burpee Money Garden:
For gardeners of all aptitudes, Burpee offers the Money Garden, a large packet of vegetable seeds to get your veggie garden going with six types of veggies – Carrot Big Top (1500 seeds), Tomato Steak Sandwich aka: Large Round Tomato (30 seeds), Bean Heavyweight II aka: Bush Snap Bean (2 oz.), Lettuce Burpee Bibb (1000 seeds), Pepper Home Run aka: Bell Pepper (30 seeds), and Pea Super Snappy aka: Garden Pea (300 seeds). This vast packet of seeds costs only $10 and contains enough seeds to produce more than $650 in delicious, homegrown produce requiring a mere tenth of an acre of growing space.
For more information on Burpee, gardening, and vegetables, please visit online at www.burpee.com.