Thursday, April 16, 2009

Does A Vegetable Garden Really Save You Money?

The money I'm spending for my vegetable garden is reaching astronomical proportions. Or is it? Will I recover the costs once the harvests start rolling in?
bean2.jpg
The seeds I ordered from Seeds of Change tacked on over $26.00 in shipping charges alone. Because many of their seeds are not available locally, I had no choice but to order them; plus Seeds of Change does important work in preserving our heirloom seeds, and our food supply, and I feel it's important to support the company. Here's my latest order:


1 BULK, LETTUCE, NEW RED FIRE - 1,000 SEEDS: 4.05
1 PACK, SQUASH, LADY GODIVA: 3.29
Shipping: 4.75
Total: 12.09

1 PACK, CALENDULA, RED SPLASH 2.59
1 PACK, CARROT, SCARLET NANTES 2.79
1 PACK, BROCCOLI, EARLY GREEN 2.59
1 PACK, CUCUMBER, SMART PICKLE 2.79
1 PACK, CUCUMBER, SWEET MARKETMORE 2.79
1 PACK, LETTUCE, SUCRINE 2.59
1 PACK, LETTUCE, LOOSELEAF, SIMPSON BLACK-SEEDED 2.59
1 PACK, SPINACH, AMERICA 2.59
1 PACK, SUMMER SQUASH, BLACK BEAUTY ZUCCHINI 2.59
1 PACK, PUMPKIN, HOWDEN 2.79
1 PACK, TOMATO, CHERRY, CHADWICK 2.59
1 PACK, TOMATO, PASTE, SAN MARZANO 2.59
1 PACK, CORN, SWEET, TRUE GOLD 2.79
Shipping: 9.14
Total $: 43.81

2 PACK, BEAN, SOYBEAN, EDAMAME SAYAMUSUME 5.58
Shipping: 12.96
Total $: 18.54
Order Recap:
Total Product $: 47.59
Net Product$: 47.59
Sales Tax: 0.00
Shipping: 26.85
Grand Total: 74.44

In addition, I have bought seeds packets at my grocery store:

Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon: $2.85
Watermelon Congo: (Just in case the sugar babies fall through) $2.85
Nasturtium: $1.69
Mesclun: $1.69
Mesclun, Green party mix: $2.19
Microgreens $1.89
Radish Seeds: $2.30
Carrot Seeds: $2.50
Free seeds, from last year include Jack and the Beanstalk, Beefsteak Tomatoes, pumpkins, green beans and more Nasturtiums.

Total: $13.16
So far, the total for seeds is: $$92.40

Soil:
This is a one-time investment, as next year, the compost I've made will eliminate the need to purchase good quality top soil: Total price $75.00

Weed Barrier:
A luxury, yes, but there will be weeks when I will be hundreds of miles away from the garden, so it must remain low-maintenance: $50.00 The label gives it a 10-year guarantee, so I expect to re-use the garden.

This brings my total so far to: $217.40. This figure does not include the stakes used to tie the beans for the fort, fertilizer, and chicken wire and Irish Spring soap that will be used later to deter pests and deer. Most of those items are already in the gargage left over from last year.

Next year, my costs will be lower, as in addition to the soil, many of the seeds bought this year will have left over seeds that I can store in the freezer and re-use next year.

At this point, who knows what the yield will be, but if we look at last year's results from the Get Rich Slowly blog, they showed a $600 profit from crop yield, against a $300 investment in the garden. I can only hope for similar results, and I'll try to count the produce as it leaves the garden, and compare that to the prices at the store. Of course, there are the year-round benefits, as we are still eating the green beans in the freezer harvested from last year's garden.

Still, who's to say what plant will actually make it? Farmers know well that the wrong weather conditions can destroy a crop. Last year's garden only produced two tomatoes for all of my efforts. Chipmunks were the main reason, as well as cool temperatures. This year, I'm moving the tomatoes to a hotter spot, and more chicken wire for the chipmunks.

I've managed to siphon down the work of garden so that the yucky stuff is gone: weed barriers have made weeding nonexistent, and newspapers eliminate the need to dig. But more important than the labor and the cost savings is the taste and convenience. Fresh snow peas, a salad waiting for you outside your door, and, hopefully, a fresh grown tomato, feeds the senses like nothing else.

7 comments:

Linda said...

If you count the time you put into the garden, there's no way you come out ahead financially.

On the other hand, if you value knowing where your food comes from, and exactly how it was grown and prepared, it's impossible to put a price on that.

Factor in teaching your kids how to grow things and to have a good work ethic, and it's truly priceless.

Plus everything tastes better when you grow it yourself!

Off to plant potatoes and peas and lettuce!

Heather said...

Wow that's a lot of money! I figure we spend $20 a year on our garden. Some years the harvest is better than others, but whatever we do get is delicious!

Susiej said...

Heather, It is definitely too much! I was cringing when I added everything together. But, our garden is 20x20, and we are expecting it to help feed our teenage boys...

In addition, I'm hoping these costs will spread out over the next two years, because we will not be planting 1,000 lettuce seeds this year... hopefully, I will have a nice collection of left-over seeds to use next year.

Plus, I confess, gardening is my obsession.... for some girls, it's shoes. For me, it's seeds.

Linda, you're right... the taste just cannot be beat. And work, is actually my spa treatment. Gardening relaxes me.

angi said...

I am excited to try my hands at gardening this year too. We are starting small (carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon & summer squash - all things we love) but hope that once I get the hang of it we will expand to grow more things. I know that it is a wonderful things to teach my kids & I feel like I am helping to do my part!

I just read about human hair trimmings keeping animals away - have you tried that?

angi said...

Also, I looked for strawberries today - any idea where to find these? Do you just buy plants at a nursery? Everything else I am starting form seeds...

Linda said...

Strawberries you buy as plants and then transplant them. You can order them as bareroots through a catalog like Jung's or Gurney's, or buy them potted at a nursery. (I saw them at the Walmart Garden Center yesterday.) Bareroot will be cheaper; you might buy 25 or 50 plants at a time.

With strawberries, you pinch off the blossoms the first year so the plants produce more runners and you get a better crop in subsequent years.

I just uncovered mine yesterday from their winter straw covering. Hoping for berries in June and July!

Susiej said...

Angi, I have heard of human hair trimmings; which a beauty shop or barber shop will gladly give you.
I have never tried it; but we have deer and bunny, and I use Irish Spring Soap. You keep it in the box, and slide it on a pole (the box keeps it from melting in the rain) and the smell keeps them away.

I am relentless at protecting my plants! I cover everything with window screening (the fiberglass kind is great!) I don't care how it looks, because, this is our food, and I spent $200!