You don’t have to pay a fortune for guaranteed fresh produce. If you want the freshest of the fresh, (not produce that’s been sitting for god knows how long that came from god knows where), with certain seasonal vegetables and fruit,why not try growing instead of buying? It's better for you, plus it'll actually save you some coin in the long run. We compare the cost of buying in a shop with the cost of growing yourself for a few of our favourite produce:
Cost in the shop: A decent sized bunch of organic Asparagus can sometimes set you back as much as $6. Not the cheapest if you really like your Asparagus!
Growing your own: Growing asparagus takes time and care, but it is so incredibly worth it when you have a thriving patch of it at your disposal - no more $6 price tags for sub-par goods!
It’ll be 2 to 3 years before you see your first head of asparagus, so pick a patch of the garden where it can live for a decent amount of time! This also means, when picking your spot to plant, you have to think about what patch is going to be good for it long term. Asparagus needs part sun/part shade in order to grow well.
How much: Asparagus seeds cost about $2
Cost in the shop: Organic, high quality garlic can be upwards of $40 for a kilogram. (Lots of garlic found in Australia has been imported from overseas - so growing your own definitely has more benefits than monetary).
Growing your own: Garlic is a really easy plant to grow - after the initial hard yards are done, it’s a pretty easy plant to maintain.
Divide up the cloves of a bulb of garlic, and plant in some well-drained soil. Again, make sure the garlic bulbs you’re using are organic ones - bulbs from the supermarket (often imported) can be sprayed with a chemical that stops them from growing,
It’ll take a few months before you see your first bulb, but boy - it’ll be worth it when your using your fresh garlic in stir fries, bolognaises and of course, your omelettes with your fresh free range eggs!
How much: You can get organic garlic for $3.49 for about 70 grams - but think of how much you’ll save when you divide the bulbs up and grow so many different plants!
Cost in the shop: Depending on the time of year (and the demand for them), berries can be astronomically expensive - think $8, $9, sometimes even $10 a punnet! But when you love berries as much as we do, it can sometimes be hard to resist...
Growing your own: Berries are seasonal plants, so will produce a fine crop a couple of times a year - usually its a large crop in summer, and then a smaller one around autumn. Strawberries can also be planted in and grown from the ground, and the same rules apply- lots of sun, ample water, and a rich soil is the formula for success
How much: Strawberry seeds are around $3 a pack- blueberry, blackberry and raspberry plants are a little more expensive, around $14 (but think of how much they cost you in the shop- totally worth it!)
Cost in the shop: About $4-5 for a organic, fresh bunch, depending on the herb.
Growing your own: Going outside and picking your own fresh herbs to use in meals is so incredibly rewarding- plus you can’t beat the fresh taste! Here’s some quick tips on growing our favourite herbs.
Parsley: Sow parsley seeds in spring, grow in a semi-shaded area, water frequently.
Basil: Sow seeds in spring/summer, make sure it’s getting a decent amount of sunlight each day, water frequently
Mint: Thrives in shady areas with moist soil.
Thyme: Needs partial sun and shade to grow.
How much: Ranges from $2-$4, depending on the herb type.
For more information on the benefits of fresh herbs for you and your chickens, check out our Herbs for Hen Health article series.
Growing your own fresh produce really will save you money in the long run - a packet of seeds will produce numerous plants, whereas buying only really gets you one bunch! Also, many fruits and vegetables these days can be grown out of small pots or patches - so ‘urban farming’ is definitely achievable.
Another bit of produce that’s even better fresh than store bought is, of course, eggs! We can’t get enough of our backyard chickens fresh produce, and neither will you once you’ve tried them. The difference, both taste wise and nutrient wise is egg-cellent!