My favourite things to grow are vegetables that are both cost effective & space effective to grow. I think that both flavor and color are 2 things we are lacking in the grocery store, your garden is a great place to bring this back.
Tomatoes – they mainly grow vertically, taste much better than store bought ones, and save you a lot of money – one tomato plant can produce 6-10 kg of tomatoes so dependent on the price of tomatoes where you live you can already see the money adding up. Also, you can grow many types of exciting varieties. You can grow them from seeds but also from cuttings making them practically free. See the page about growing tomatoes here.
Strawberries – If you have several varieties you can ensure you have a few strawberries every day from Early June to late September. They like to grow in vertical towers and need very little attention. The flavor of a home grown strawberry is amazing! Each plant can produce up to 100 grams of strawberries and they actually sprout their own clones with runners.
Hot Peppers - they grow in containers produce a lot of peppers from one plant and save you a lot of money if you like things spicy.
Green Beans – you can grow these in small containers and stagger the planting 2 weeks apart so that they are ready at different times, this way you will have beans for a long time. Although they do not cost much in the store they are often imported for countries where people are food insecure, using resources that should be used for local people. Home grown ones are far superior in flavor, leave you with a nice feeling knowing that you didn’t contribute to an unfair supply chain, and save the carbon footprint of transportation from Africa. You can grow many varieties so that you can impress your friends with exciting colors of beans.
Potatoes – Just for the flavor I would recommend trying this. Potatoes from the store often start to run and it is so easy to place them into a bucket with some dirt. They require almost no maintenance and can produce a whole bucket of spuds. The hardest thing is to be patient and wait for them to be ready. See the page about growing potatoes here.
Bell Peppers – these grow 3-12 peppers in a season and grow well containers. The flavor of a home grown bell pepper is much better than bought ones.
Zucchini – the plant can grow very large but can produce a lot of zucchinis. On average a good zucchini will produce 2-5kg of zucchinis.
Rainbow Chard (Silver beet) – These grow well in cooler climates and add a lot of pretty colors to your meals. Until recently it was almost impossible to find in Dutch stores, and when you did it was limp and tasteless. Growing your own adds color, flavor, and vitamins to your life. On an unrelated side note, the most beautiful rainbow chard. On a recent trip to New Zealand I bought some Ruby red silverbeet seeds, that grow like wildfire.in my tiny little Amsterdam garden.
Salad Greens - provided that you can compete with the snails then lettuce & salad greens are a great thing to grow. A packet of lettuce seed has heaps of seeds in it & it will help you fill your lunchbox almost for free. Silverbeet, spinach, and beet leaves also work well in a salad.
Cucumbers – If you think cucumbers taste like water, then you have not had one out of your own garden. Cucumbers can produce a lot, even in a pot, saving you a lot of money too.
Gherkins – one gherkin plant has produced 3 jars of pickles so far this year and the season is not yet over. As we usually buy a jar every few weeks, we do save a lot of money, and you and make them taste the way you like them. See my pickle recipe here
Herbs – fresh herbs are expensive and wilt and die really fast. Grow your own, dry them and use them all year.
Pumpkins or winter squash – these are easy to grow organically and need very little attention. If you have a good season you will be able to make your own amazing soup.
Broccoli - It is one of my favorites. It will easily grow from seed and saves you loads of money in your groceries. You also have the opportunity to grow purple broccoli. Don’t forget, you can use a broccoli leaf like cabbage and pop it into a stir fry.
Carrots – these are not necessarily economic to grow but the flavor is far superior to store bought ones. You can also grow multi - colored ones. They grow very well in a small & long container or tin, meaning that they take up very little space. You can also hang the tins up. Stagger the planting about 2 weeks apart so that you have them almost all year around. Growing in small long tins also allows you to harvest all of your carrots from one tin at once, this stops the carrot fly from being attracted to your patch. The carrot fly is attracted by the crushed foliage of carrots and thinning or pulling carrots brings them to your patch. With your patches being tins you can bring the whole tin inside, harvest, and re-seed another batch all at once.
Other plants to mention – The following things grow in my garden, with little or no maintenance, and they produce year after year; they include Blueberries, raspberries, plums, & asparagus. Read more about perennials here.