By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you garden for a hobby, to save money, or both?
I’m one who falls into the “both” category. I enjoy growing my own food. I like knowing where it comes from, but I also enjoy the savings I see on my grocery bill.
We found a list of some of the most consumed vegetables and wanted to share it with you. If you eat these vegetables regularly, you might be able to save a bundle by growing them yourself.
Here are the most consumed vegetables and how you can begin producing them in your garden.
Potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the United States. This shouldn’t be surprising considering they work wonderfully as a side dish, in multiple forms, and as a snack because most people love potato chips.
If you’re interested in raising potatoes, they do well in planting zones three through ten. If you live in cooler areas, they’re usually grown as an early spring crop. In warmer climates, they’re planted in both fall or spring.
Potatoes need to be planted in full sun and prefer sandy soil that’s well-draining. They require minimum care. If you water them regularly, using the deep watering method to encourage strong roots, and supply them with fertilizer on a regular basis they should have what they need to produce well.
This crop will face a few threats, from aphids, scab, and blight. Learn how to treat these pests and diseases effectively to encourage a healthy harvest.
Once the tops of the plants have dried and fallen over, you’ll know the potatoes have finished growing. At this point, you should carefully dig the potatoes out of the ground, brush the large chunks of dirt from them, and store them.
Potatoes can be stacked in containers with layers of straw separating them. Store the container in a cool, dry location. The straw will stop the potatoes from touching which deters rot.
Do check your harvest weekly to ensure no rot has formed. Enjoy your hard work, favorite dishes, and the money saved when you no longer need to purchase potatoes from someone else.
Tomatoes are what we produce most in our family garden. Why? Because you can do so much with them. We make our own salsa, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato powder from the dehydrated skins, tomato juice, and even dehydrated tomatoes.
This allows us the opportunity to have the fresh tomato flavor all year long. Plus, it saves a great deal of money because purchasing tomatoes can become costly, if you use as many of them as we do.
Growing tomatoes isn’t overly complicated. Tomatoes require full sun and well-draining soil. They grow best in planting zones four through eleven.
You can choose between determinate varieties, the plants you know how large they’ll become, or indeterminate varieties, those you don’t know how large they’ll be.
Tomatoes also don’t require a specific garden plot. They grow well in traditional garden beds, raised beds, containers, and even upside down.
They shouldn’t be planted outdoors until all threat of frost has passed. You can purchase seedlings for transplant, or start your tomatoes from seed two months prior to the last frost date.
Once your tomatoes are planted, you’ll need to provide them with plenty of water. Be sure to use the deep watering method.
Mulch around your tomatoes to keep weeds down and moisture in place around your plants. They should also be fertilized regularly.
Be sure to provide some type of support for your tomatoes via cages, staking, or the Florida Weave. This will hold the tomatoes upright when its fruit becomes too heavy.
Tomatoes face a variety of threats around the garden. Common pests and diseases include aphids, hornworms, flea beetles, whiteflies, mosaic virus, blight, and blossom end rot.
The good news is most of the pests can be treated with an insecticide. Blight can be treated with a fungicide, and blossom end rot can be treated by providing more calcium to the soil by sprinkling powdered milk at the base of the plant.
However, if you notice mosaic virus in your tomatoes, you should pull up any infected plants and discard immediately.
When your tomatoes are firm and of the appropriate color, it’s time to harvest them. Gently pluck them from the plant and use them fresh, canned, or even frozen.
Tomatoes are a versatile crop which can be used in a variety of ways around your kitchen. Plus, a homegrown tomato tastes amazing. If you’d like to cash in on savings and flavor, consider raising your own tomatoes.
Onions are one of my favorite crops to grow, and it’s no surprise they’re heavily consumed. They provide exquisite flavor to soups, stews, stir-fry, go great with meat, are a nice addition on sandwiches, and can be enjoyed raw in a salad.
Though onions aren’t terribly expensive to buy, they’re so easy to grow it makes you wonder why you should spend money you don’t have to.
Onions can be grown in spring or fall. They can thrive in a traditional garden setting, in raised beds, or even containers.
The most important thing when raising onions is to provide them with loose, well-draining soil. The soil must allow water to flow away from the bulb to avoid rot.
It also must be loose to give the bulb room to expand. Like many crops, onions also prefer full sun in their growing space.
Onions can be grown from seed or from a set which is a smaller bulb. It’s a faster way of reaching harvest time.
Plant your onions in the spring, after the threat of frost is over. You can also plant them in the fall when the temperatures have cooled off, but the ground is still workable.
Onions are heavy feeders, so it’s wise to add compost and a balanced fertilizer during the time of planting.
After your onions are planted, be sure to water them regularly. They need an inch of water per week. You should also mulch around your onions.
Fertilizing, once your onions have a half-dozen leaves, is important to the size of your harvest. How many leaves your onions produce tells you how many rings the bulbs have. Each ring makes the bulb larger.
Stay alert to some of the threats onions may face in your garden. The most common pests are aphids, thrips and onion maggots.
Thrips and aphids can be treated with an insecticide. Onion maggots require placing mesh at the base of your onion plants to avoid eggs being laid in the soil near your crops.
You’ll know your onions are ready for harvest when the leaves have dried up and died back. At this point, carefully dig the harvest out of the ground.
Allow the onions to cure in a dry location for at least a week. Once done, they can be processed and stored in a freezer bag for easy use.
If you’d prefer to keep them whole, store them in a cool, dry location. Ensure there’s a layer of straw or sawdust between your onions to avoid rot. You may also wish to hang them to allow air to circulate around the onions while waiting for use.
Carrots are an easy crop to grow. They need loose, well-draining soil and full sun. I grow my carrots in containers to ensure the soil is loose enough.
If you’d prefer to grow them in the ground, make sure the soil is loosened a foot below where you’re planting.
Carrots should be direct sown into their grow location. Lightly cover the seeds with soil because they need light for germination.
Water them gently for a couple of weeks to help breakdown the protective barrier on the seed. It should take three weeks for germination to occur.
Carrots need an inch of water per week. Mulching will help to keep weeds down and moisture in the plants.
They should also be fertilized one month after planting. Ensure the fertilizer is low-nitrogen while higher in phosphate and potassium.
This is the right combination to make sure the nutrients help what’s growing beneath the ground instead of only making sure the carrot tops are bright and bushy.
When raising carrots you should be aware of black canker and aster yellow disease. You should also be aware of carrot rust flies, flea beetles, and root-knot nematodes.
After two and a half months, your carrots should be ready to harvest. You can safely leave them in the ground until you’re ready to use them.
Cold weather helps sweeten their flavor. If you’d prefer to harvest them all at once, carefully dig them out of the ground, brush the dirt off, and bring them indoors.
You can store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use, freeze them, can them for later use, or store them in a cool, dry location. Make sure you use straw to separate the layers in the containers if storing in a root cellar or basement.
5. Head Lettuce
It should come as no surprise that many people consume head lettuce. This crop goes great in salads or on sandwiches.
Head lettuce can be grown in most planting zones when the temperatures are between sixty- and seventy-degrees Fahrenheit.
Lettuce should be planted in full sun and in well-draining soil. You can direct sow the seeds into their bed or start the seeds indoors and transplant.
You’ll need approximately one foot of space between plants. After you’ve got lettuce in place, your only care item is to water it.
The difference with lettuce is the roots should be shallow. Therefore, you won’t use the deep watering method. Instead, you’ll water lightly and frequently.
Lettuce does face a few threats. Aphids and slugs enjoy your lettuce harvest as much as you do. Treat them with an insecticide to keep your crops safe.
Tipburn is another threat you must handle. When the tips of the lettuce leaves turn brown, it’s from irregular watering. Water your crops regularly to avoid this.
Lettuce should be ready to harvest within one to two months after planting. Cut the head at soil level, take indoors, rinse, and enjoy!
6. Sweet Corn
Sweet corn isn’t a difficult crop to grow. It needs to be planted in well-draining soil and where it will have adequate sunlight.
It should be directly sown, after all threat of frost has passed, into an inground garden space. Don’t plant long rows of corn.
Instead, plant the corn in multiple shorter rows where it forms a box. This helps with pollination. There should be one foot of space between each plant to ensure you receive an adequate harvest. Plant your corn too closely and the ears won’t form properly.
Sweet corn needs one inch of water per week. At times, it may need more. You can utilize the deep watering method, but if your corn begins to wilt, be prepared to water more frequently than you might with other crops.
Mulching will help to keep the weeds down and moisture in place. Fertilize the corn with a balanced fertilizer once the plants are two-feet tall.
When growing sweet corn be on guard of leaf spot, leaf blight, tar spot, and rust. You should also be aware of earworms, corn borers, armyworms, and flea beetles.
Watch for your corn to form tassels. Three weeks after this has occurred, it’s time to harvest. Remove the ears from the corn and store them in their husks in your refrigerator if you’ll be eating them within a day or two.
If not, husk the corn, silk it, and store it in freezer bags for later us. You can also preserve corn via canning.
7. Leaf Lettuce
Our final vegetable is leaf lettuce. I love leaf lettuce because it’s extremely simple to grow. Like most lettuce varieties, it prefers cooler temperatures.
It can be grown in an inground bed, raised bed, or containers. I usually grow mine in containers because I can get quite a harvest without using a great deal of space.
Ensure the soil is nutrient-dense, loosened, and well-draining. The leaf lettuce will also need full sunlight.
Direct sow the seeds in the soil and lightly cover. Water the seeds lightly and frequently. Leaf lettuce has shallow roots, so it doesn’t handle the deep watering method well.
It should take the crop two months to be ready for harvest. Some of the most common threats to leaf lettuce are aphids and rabbits.
You can treat aphids with an insecticide. Rabbits can be solved with adequate fencing surrounding your lettuce.
When it’s time to harvest the crop, use scissors to cut the leaves away from the base of the plant. Bring it indoors, wash, and enjoy!
These are the most consumed vegetables by people around the United States. If you find that you eat many of these vegetables, too, it might be prudent of you to consider growing them.
Not only will it allow you to have a better handle on what’s happening to your food before you eat it, but it could save money as well. Take this information under consideration and start drawing up a new gardening plan which includes some of the veggies you consume most.