Save Dollars Growing Vegetables In Your Own Garden

Is it really possible to save dollars growing vegetables? Yes! I truly believe that I save considerable money by having a little backyard, or maybe even a front yard, vegetable garden.

There are of course many variables to consider when making that determination. The most important is the value of your labour. If you want to count the hours you spent growing vegetables and multiply that by the local minimum wage then the answer may be different.

There Are Greater Benefits
If being outside in the sunshine, absorbing vitamin D and deriving the many therapeutic benefits of nurturing little green growing things, is seen as a positive thing and not something that can ever have a monetary value, then all the free vegetables are just a wonderful extra benefit.

What Costs Count?
Ignoring all of those benefits there are actual dollars to consider. You must purchase seeds and/or transplants. Fertilizer and pest control can have a dollar value. If, like me, you create structures or buy containers to facilitate your vegetable production then you may want to consider those costs. For the moment let’s ignore the items that will last for several years so that we don’t have to get into a five or ten year amortization of those costs. I don’t find accounting nearly as therapeutic and enjoyable as gardening.

What Do Seeds Cost?
The obvious and direct cost is the purchase of seeds and/or plants. We could launch into a whole separate discussion about the relative costs of those two things but let’s just consider seeds for now. In 2018 I have about 75 varieties of vegetables that I plan to grow. That may be a couple more than the average or beginning gardener is contemplating but I am a confessed gardening addict. I have retained seeds for about half of those varieties from last year leaving me to purchase about 35 seed packages this year. My seed spread sheet tells me that the value of all my seed packets is about $225. If I bought half of them this year, then my yearly seed expense is about $115.

Counting The Savings!
How do I quantify the value of my production. Well, I certainly don’t keep track of the number of Zucchini grown each year nor do I rush to the store to find the going price of Zucchini when they are available in my garden. What I do know is that the first Asparagus appears on my dinner plate in mid to late April and the last of the Leeks, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts are still gracing our plates well into November. There is always some winter storage of Onions, Squash, Garlic and Potatoes. During the height of the summer we will have at least 5 vegetables as the main part of any given meal. We used to count dinner time vegetables as a bit of a game when all 5 kids lived at home and our record at one meal was 13.

How Much Do We Save?
Now that is a season of about 200 days. 200 days of multiple, garden fresh, organic vegetables for an annual seed cost of just over $100 or about 50 cents a day. I’m fairly certain that I can’t come close to doing that buying vegetables, even at the local farmer’s market. Throwing in another $50 for a couple of bags of Acti-Sol, my organic fertilizer of choice, and a bottle or two of insecticidal soap does not alter the incredibly good financials of vegetable gardening.

On The Balcony!
At the other end of the gardening spectrum is the apartment dweller with a container of Lettuce growing on their balcony. The package of Lettuce seed may cost as much as $3.50. If planted in succession and harvested by cutting back the small plants 3 or 4 times they will produce enough Lettuce to fill one of those $4.00 plastic containers several times.

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