The first spring I lived in my house, I built a small 8 x 20 foot vegetable garden at the back of the lot. I would have loved to make my garden a lot bigger, but the layout of the house and detached garage made it so I was unable to do so. Every summer I have enjoyed working in my garden and reaping the rewards that come with it. I find growing a garden to be both financially and mentally rewarding. If you have been wondering just how much you can save with a garden, here is a look at what my small garden yields.
It is difficult to determine how much the water costs for the garden and depending on your climate yours could be more or less. Living in Montana we are very arid, so I have to dump a lot of water on my plants to make sure they produce for me. For my calculations I have used a flat $5 of water per species of plant. Aside from that, nothing else goes on my plants (I will admit that sometimes I have to put a slug killer around so those pests don’t destroy the new growth, but no other chemicals) .
My vegetable garden supports 2 tomato plants. By using the cheapest I can find at Walmart (usually about $2 per plant), I keep my costs to a minimum (seeds would be cheaper, but it’s too cold to plant here before May and it is a pain to start them indoors). Each tomato plant yields roughly 20 pounds of tomatoes. If tomatoes in the store cost $1.50 per pound, I get $60 worth of tomatoes for around $9.
A packet of bean seeds costs around $.79. At least 10-20 plants come up each year (and proceed to climb over everything including to the top of the apple tree, so be careful where you plant them). Harvest yields around 1 pound of beans per plant. If they cost $1 per pound in the store, I grow $15 worth of beans for about $6.
Snap peas cost the same as the beans, but they do not grow quite as large. The harvest yields about half a pound per plant. At $2 per pound in the store, my 20 plants will give me $20 worth of peas for about $6.
Like the tomatoes I simply get the style of cucumber I want without worrying about how fancy the species is. These plants usually run $2 for four plants. Throughout the summer those plants yield roughly 25 cucumbers. The grocery store sells them for $.69 each while they are in season, so growing my own I get $18 worth of cucumbers for $7.
My little vegetable garden saves me $51 on tomatoes, $9 on beans, $14 on peas, and $11 on cucumbers; a total savings of $85. But you have to keep in mind that these vegetables are much fresher than anything you would be able to find in the store, and since little to no chemicals have been used they are healthier and in the store would cost more than my analysis shows (I don’t know the price of organics since I don’t shop organic food stores).
So is it worthwhile to grow your own food? Probably not. I put a lot of hours into tilling, prepping, planting, maintaining, and harvesting. I could earn much more than $85 if I put those hours into my work. However, the garden is a hobby. It is relaxing. And if you have never experienced the taste of a tomato that falls off the vine with a touch, one that is still warm from the sun when you pop it into your mouth, this year you need to try growing just one tomato plant. If you are short on space you can always put it in a pot on the patio.
Do you maintain a vegetable garden? What is your incentive?
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