Make Gardening Economical

Some vegetables are more "space efficient" than others. That is, they return a higher monetary value for the garden space they occupy.

Vegetable value can be obtained either by price per pound or by yield. For example, broccoli may yield a 2-pound head, which would usually be moderately expensive at the supermarket. By comparison, zucchini squash may cost only one-third as much per pound at the store, but one plant can easily produce 10 or 15 pounds of fresh squash.

Some vegetables mature so rapidly that they take up garden space for only a short time. Therefore, multiple crops can be grown, increasing the dollar-per-square-foot return during the growing season. Recently, garden experts across the United States cooperated in a survey to rate vegetables by their value. They considered total yield per square foot, average value per pound harvested and time from seed to harvest. Vegetables were rated with 10 points being the maximum. No vegetable hit the 10 point rating because no single vegetable performs well under all soil and climatic conditions.

The top ranking vegetables were tomatoes grown on supports to save space (9), green bunching onions (8.2), leaf lettuce (7.4), turnips for greens or roots (7.4), squash (7.2), onion bulbs for storage (6.9) and pole beans (6.8). An intermediately-economical group included beets grown for green tops and roots (6.6), bush beans (6.5), carrots (6.5), cucumbers grown on supports (6.5), peppers (6.4), broccoli (6.3), kohlrabi (6.3), Swiss chard (6.3), mustard greens (6.2), spinach (6.2), pole Lima beans (6.1), radishes (6.1), cabbage (6.0), leeks (5.9), collards (5.8), okra (5.7), kale (5.6), cauliflower (5.3) and eggplant (5.2). The "losers," as far as economical production is concerned, are Brussels sprouts (4.3), celery (4.3), peas (4.3), sweet corn (4.1), winter squash (3.8), melons (3.8), water-melons (3.8) and pumpkins (1.9).

With this information on potential yields of vegetable crops, survey your family to decide what to grow. If they won't eat it, don't grow it!¶