Top 10 value veggies to plant

"What should I grow?" It's the first question for most people, beginners or experts, when thinking of planting a garden. It's also something Mel Bartholomew, inventor of the Square Foot Gardening method, gets asked quite a bit.

Kim Roman, interim CEO of Square Foot Gardening Foundation, says that when she or Bartholomew talk to gardeners, they find that an underlying factor of that question is often cost. "After a discussion about garden goals – their likes and dislikes – we discover that what gardeners really want to know is what to plant to save money," she says. "I believe most gardeners, regardless of their level of experience, assume that growing their own food is always cheaper than buying it. As Bartholomew suggests, 'That's not always the case.'"

Bartholomew's latest book High-Value Veggies helps gardeners grow more efficiently and effectively. He outlines how to apply basic math to the garden to pick plants that will benefit your kitchen and wallet. Factors like cost of supplies, growing time, gross yield and more can help calculate if growing a certain plant rather than buying it at the store will save or cost you money.

People often choose plants that are easy to grow, but that may mean they're growing something that's costing them money. Some edibles that Bartholomew says you're better off just picking up at the supermarket include potatoes, bell peppers, asparagus and okra. Roman suggests beginners looking for high-value plants that are easy to grow start with tomatoes and herbs.

While Bartholomew does think it's smart to approach a garden with return on investment in mind, he stresses the importance of also planting vegetables that you like and fit with your gardening goals.

While the most cost-efficient vegetables will range slightly depending on what region you live in and what types of stores and farmers' markets you shop at, Bartholomew compiled a list of top money-saving vegetables across the board. Scroll down to see the top 10 high-value veggies and their return on investment per square foot. Then start planting and saving!

Top 10 Value Veggies
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Top 10 value veggies to plant

10. Hybrid Tomato - ROI $16.1

Photo curtesy of Burpee.

9. Spinach - ROI $16.54

Photo by Lynn Coulte

8. Winter Squash - ROI $18.15

Image courtesy of

7. Leek - ROI $18.72

Image courtesy of Kitazawa Seed Company

6. Turnip - ROI $22.86

Photo courtesy of Burpee

5. Heirloom Tomato - ROI $23.65


4. Garlic - ROI $25.21

Photo courtesy of Burpee

3. Cherry Tomato - ROI $26.13

Johnny's Selected Seeds

2. Parsnip - ROI $35.04

1. Herbs (Thyme) - ROI $69.08

Image courtesy of


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