- Dave Kinzer
How To Save Money With A Garden
Updated: May 11, 2020
There are so many benefits to growing a garden that I feel like I could make this a ten-part column. Since this is a money blog, we’ll focus on the financial benefits.
I’ve had a garden for the past eight years. Mostly, it’s been productive. Knowing that I would write a column about it sometime in the future, I kept records about my harvest in 2019.
Last year, my garden yielded six giant Marconi peppers (from one plant), about seven salads from lettuce and spinach, 23 Serrano peppers (one plant), 307 cherry tomatoes (one plant), 532 raspberries (three bushes), and 45 cups of blueberries (two bushes). And yes, I really did count each tomato and raspberry.
Financially speaking, how did my garden affect my pocketbook? I looked at area grocery store prices for each vegetable and fruit to estimate how much my garden’s harvest was worth.
If I had purchased the vegetables and fruits from a store, the six Marconi peppers would have cost $6, the salads $8, the Serrano peppers $2.30, the cherry tomatoes $30.70, the raspberries $42.56, and the blueberries $51.75. Total savings: $141.31.
My expenses were minimal. I grew the spinach and lettuce from seed, but bought starter plants for the rest of the vegetables. The total cost for the vegetables was around $13.
The fruit bushes were much more expensive. The raspberry bushes were $27.60, and the blueberry bushes were $29. The great thing about fruit bushes is that they should live and produce for years. Raspberry bushes can live anywhere from five to twenty years long. Blueberry bushes can live up to fifty years. Imagine getting forty-five cups of delicious, organic, fresh blueberries from your backyard every year for decades!
To sum it up, the vegetable plants cost $13 and the fruit plants cost $56.60, for a total of $69.60. Since my garden produced a harvest worth $141.31, my “profit” for the year was
So don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible to save money with a garden.
Sure, some of your harvest won’t pay off as much as others. Jalapeño peppers, for example, are ridiculously cheap. I needed one last week for a stew I was making. The cost? Three cents. So those years when I grew jalapeños and harvested a couple dozen, I actually lost money since the starter plant cost about two dollars.
But other vegetables, such as salad greens, tomatoes, and squash, will easily allow you to recoup your “investment” many times over. A couple years ago, I planted one acorn squash plant, which cost $3. It produced twenty acorn squash. They usually cost around one dollar apiece. Getting twenty acorn squash for three dollars is a pretty good deal!
If you are the least bit intimidated by starting a garden, that’s understandable, but don’t let that stop you. Just start out small.
Buy a pot, some good soil, and a cherry tomato plant. Your total expense should be around $10. Put it in a sunny spot, water it, and pay attention to it. This summer, once the tomatoes really get going, you should be able to pick a dozen or more almost every day.
By the time winter rolls around, you’ll probably have picked $30-$40 worth of cherry tomatoes. That’s a pretty good return on a $10 investment.
If you’ve never had a garden, consider starting a small one this spring. Not only will you be healthier from eating fresh, organic vegetables- you’ll also save money.