Gardening | 17 March 2016Picking your Plant Portfolio Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you’ve ever asked yourself which vegetables make the most sense to grow in your garden, a study from the founder of Square Foot Gardening has the answer. And the results may surprise. Mel Bartholomew, whose Square Foot Gardening books have sold 2.5 million copies, turned his calculator toward the food we grow in our gardens to see what gives the biggest bang for your buck. “There are real costs involved in growing,” Bartholomew says. “If you’re going to make an investment in edibles, treat your garden the same way you treat your 401K. It all comes down to ROI.” Bartholomew, a former engineer, developed a mathematical formula for objectively calculating return on investment. Using data from the US Department of Agriculture and price surveys of produce costs in stores throughout the country, he was able to determine which garden crops offer the biggest payback. He analyzed the 59 most popular vegetables among home gardeners and, when the study was complete, some definite winners and losers emerged. The results of the study are detailed in, Square Foot Gardening High Value Veggies: Homegrown Produce Ranked by Value. “Every gardener has favorites,” Bartholomew noted, “so I was a little worried my list would offend some people. But the numbers are the numbers. In the end, of course, you should grow whatever you want for whatever reason you choose.” According to Bartholomew, the veggie with the highest return on investment is: Herbs, including favorites as cilantro, oregano and thyme, which finished at the top of the study offering a return of nearly $70 worth of produce for every square foot planted. The runner-up and highest-ranked true “vegetable” is the parsnip at $35 per square foot. At the other end of the scale are some popular crops, including bell peppers (you’ll lose about $2 for every square foot planted). At the bottom of the Veggie Value list are potatoes, with a return of negative $6 per square foot, compared to the cost of buying them at market. Top Five High Value: Herbs Parsnip Cherry Tomato Garlic Heirloom Tomato Bottom Five High Value: Potato Brussel Sprouts Bell Pepper Swiss Chard Asparagus Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Calculate the return on investment for your vegetable garden and get the most bang for your gardening bucks! Get the most return on investment from your garden by calculating which vegetables, fruits, and herbs give the highest payback. To make the selection process of what to grow easy, Mel Bartholomew–author of the best-selling Square Foot Gardening–has a new book to maximize your garden’s ROI. High-Value Veggies is an easy-to-use reference book helping gardeners choose edibles that make the most financial and spatial sense. Explore the thought processes and math behind growing vegetables and herbs in order to craft the best plan for your produce. Maximizing your garden’s yield is no simple task. Consider the tomato; most people think it’s a safe bet for a high-yield return – but which variety? Heirloom tomatoes typically cost $5 or more a pound at farmers’ markets. You can beat that price by growing Cherokee Purples from seed at a net cost of only 80 cents per pound. If you plant purchased seedlings, the cost will go up to about $1 a pound–and that’s including the cost of water and fertilizer. High-Value Veggies makes this cost evaluation for each vegetable easy. Whether you’re interested in growing tomatoes, pumpkins, cabbage, corn, or anything else, it’s wise to consider the invisible dollar signs sown along the way. The relative ROI for each veggie in High-Value Veggies is calculated based on dollar value generated for each square foot planted. You don’t need to be a math whiz to plan your next vegetable garden. Bartholomew has done the math for you, and he has cost-effective answer. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.