New year is bad for vege patches. Summer heat and late rains are ideal growing conditions, but the holidays mean less time for the garden. Weeds run rampant, and tomatoes grow too fast to “pinch out”, more like jungle bushes than productive vines.
As a resolution, “beating the weeds” is unrealistic. Growing more traditional veges also seems unlikely, when they only cost cents in the shops.
Before you despair, and decide growing your own is only for the really dedicated. Think again! Granted many crops are more trouble than they’re worth, or more work than the family pet, there are still opportunities for delicious low maintenance crops. The trick is to pick, craftily. Choose crops for return on investment.
Here’s my current list of high ROI crops:
- Cooking apples require pruning once a year, and fertiliser when you remember, but you can’t buy them, and they make delicious deserts impressing your guests!
- Heritage varieties of other fruits also offer a high ROI, if you have not inherited a productive plum tree planting a couple (chosen to pollinate each other) is easy fruit.
- Jerusalem Artichokes are a thistle, so of course they grow well! Big impressive plants look great, and a thick layer of straw keeps them weed free (almost). Earn “foodie points” with a vege that’s unusual, delicious and easy to grow and cook (copy the online videos).
- Lettuce require some weeding and lots of watering, but repay with a salad you grew yourself (almost) and far less pain than tomatoes or cucumbers. Buying “Mesclun” seed gives plants of different varieties from one packet, all year round. The straw trick works for lettuce, but grow the seedlings quite big before planting them.
- Rocket and other herbs grow like weeds, and can be used either as a flavouring or in salad.
What are your tips for picking for high ROI crops?