View Full Version : Does Your Garden Save You Money?

08-01-2011, 05:15 PM
Hey all, anyone here ever do the math to see how much you might be saving through your garden as opposed to if you purchased your items through the grocery store on a per week, per month or per year basic? I think that would be interesting feedback to hear.

08-03-2011, 12:09 AM
absolutely not. I have a gardening problem and spend way too much on it.

Take something like a compost tumbler (http://www.organic-compost-tumbler.com). I have two of those. Thats nearly $500. Compost is $2 for 40 pounds at home depot. So that is 10,000 pounds of compost I need my tumbler to produce to break even, that isn't happening. Sure, the compost I get out of it is probably more diverse than composted manure, but still.

I think you CAN make money gardening, but you have to work at it. You need to till soil, not build a raised bed. Apple trees can make money. Big money really. Nut trees can make a fortune (but you must love nuts, you'll have a lot, and shelling them too). Every year I plant butternut squash in my front yard and do relatively nothing for it. Just let it take over and cover part of the lawn. It probably makes me $100 in squash. Last year I got 50 pounds I think.

But in general you'll get the most bang for your buck from tree/shrub/perennial edibles like apples, raspberries, and asparagus. These, once established, do not need fertilizer, do not need watering, and they will keep on producing.

08-03-2011, 02:49 AM
Oh I totally agree with you Chris. But purchasing a compost tumbler such as you linked too would technically get chalked up as just money spent on a hobby.

I don't think gardening is a good business plan per se, but after you get yourself set up, and have all the fun accessories to enhance your gardening experience, do you find yourself noticing you saved $15 every week or $45 every month from your garden.

It's like solar panels. . . you're going to have to live in a house a long time to make your money back technically.

I didn't realize you could make a few bucks on apples and nuts. I know this is a public forum, but nobody's allowed to take my million dollar money making idea! I'm going to cross breed an apple tree and a nut tree and call them "NAPPLES" - They will sell for "ONE MILLION DOLLARS"!!!!

08-07-2011, 05:32 PM
Well think. Honeycrisp apples are almost $3 a piece at the store. If you get 100 apples from a mature tree...

Nuts can be $10 a pound.

08-08-2011, 04:12 PM
That's awesome! I never thought about that. But then you would need to find some sort of farmers market or some place similar where you could sell that though right? Then there would be the cost of the booth, etc. Maybe if you had a few trees of each, then it could definitely be worth while.

08-08-2011, 09:07 PM
While I can only assume we are not saving more then we are spending at this point (a few years into gardening). I think if you do things like save seed, compost, grow transplants from seed or at nurseries on sale, and only grow what you eat a lot of and is high yielding then yes I do believe it is possible. It will take years though typically to get back the costs of building infrastructure and buying seeds. But after that it gets less and less expensive, and who knows with inflation, (the federal Reserve is going to do QE 3 or another round of printing money), what the cost of food will be. My guess is it will be significantly up. You can see our garden at my blog http://theurbanhomestaed.blogspot.com/p/our-square-foot-garden.html

We probably spent about $150-200 on our infrastructure and soil amendments. We also purchased a indoor greenhouse for about $30 (lights and fan included).

08-08-2011, 09:13 PM
That's good info, and thanks! Loved the pictures on your blog. My wife grew up near you in White Bear Lake!

08-15-2011, 01:24 AM
How long does it usually take to establish rasberries and aspargus to be at the point where it keeps producing without watering, fertilizer, etc...

organic mommy
08-25-2011, 03:06 PM
I have not taken the time to break it down dollar by dollar from a baseline of what I was spending on store-bought produce then and what I am spending now, nor have I recently priced up what I produce (and not buy) to see what I am saving, but I am certain that I am saving. Even at times when I am not selling produce for profit, I am still saving money as I am able to harvest and produce meals for my family of 6 for about $2 total, on average.

It's easy to find affordable seed, and if you can find the non-hybrid, non-GMOs then you can continue to use your own saved seed indefinitely, so the seed purchase could theoretically be a one-time investment.
And as long as you are not farming a large spread, irrigation can be done by hand and hose so there is little other infrastructure costs involved. Sure, one can spend a fortune on beds and irrigation and high-end soils, but it's really not necessary, if you ask me. I have gotten by with minimal cost and commercial product use for years with explosive gardens that overwhelm my ability to use it all - that's where market and trade comes in, and we get back to the point.

When I have extra harvest, I work out deals with local poultry farms and dairy farms and even some cattle ranchers to swap out for their wares, so I save money on those things which I do not grow.

I also take extra veggies and make great stews and soups and sauces which I freeze and store for the lean times, and combined with some uncooked pasta storage, I have enough food to last my family about half a year in case my garden fails one year for some reason.

It is also great to use the berry gardens for profit - last month my berry plants were spitting out about 7 gallons per day! And considering the $3 - $5 per pint you may pay at a fresh market or chain store, you can imagine the sales I generated!

By the way - raised beds are not a cheat, they are a great way for an aging person or anyone with back problems to harvest more easily (not as much bending/squatting).

Best wishes to all! :)

Organic Mommy

"Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward (Wo)Men"
I am a proud supporter of www.arkinstitute.com - "sowing the seeds of self reliance"

08-25-2011, 05:35 PM
Awesome post Organic Mommy! Lots of good info in there. Thanks!

09-01-2011, 09:13 PM
Just a friendly note that I am not a professional and just garden for fun. I love home grown produce and have grown up seeing my dad tend to his garden day and night. I have recently picked up this hobby as well. Don't really see us saving money really, since we grow some of the basic fruits such as carrots, tomatoes, melons, etc. But I can tell you the taste difference is noticeable when you eat them!
Hope that helps :)

09-01-2011, 10:34 PM
Thanks for the feedback Kzhen

09-06-2011, 03:51 PM
Not a problem! Glad I can be of help. :)

Mr Yan
09-23-2011, 02:30 AM
I asked myself this question this year and set about answering it. I logged all my expenses this year - $200 - and have been careful to weigh everything we have harvested and brought inside.

I have next to no good garden space without building it. My primary raised bed is built on/over a concrete pad. After that I have several DIY self watering planters (think OurEngineeredGarden blog or Earthtainer designs).

So far this season we have pulled 25.516 kg of veg, fruit, or herbs out of the garden for a price of $3.55 a pound.

I still have a lot in the yard including my experiments with a potato-tower, 12 sweet potato plants, and several butternut squash.

This year I hope to get close to parity with grocery store prices. Next year should be much more harvest for the seasonal cost as most cost this year is for container soil mix.

09-28-2011, 05:48 PM
That's really good info, thanks!

Mr Yan
09-29-2011, 01:28 AM
We're now sitting at $3.38 a pound but there are some things which have been eaten directly from the plant (not recorded) and some which were recorded as 1 gram in my calculation (I recorded things like "1 radish" early on and radish is well above 1 gram)

While I love tomatoes I think the most bang for the buck comes from either my garlic or basil.

The garlic was brainless easy and has provided 3 months of eating about 1 head a week plus the seed stock for next season. Plant it in October and pull it in July.

Fresh basil was $1.75 for a small deli container at the store last week. So far I have made over a gallon of pesto this season and have another 202 grams (fresh weight) drying for winter use.

I'll give a final break down once winter has taken over. Zone 5 - Northern Illinois

10-04-2011, 01:51 PM
Sometimes, I will sell flowers and vegetables when I have a late summer yard/plant sale.
I like to share the rewards with my family close friends and the elderly neighbors in my area.
But mostly my vegetable garden saves me money, I don't have to pay the high produce prices at the local stores. And what I don't grow, I buy from my local organic farmers.
A rewarding 3 season hobby and I just love doing it. I use approx. 1/2 acre of my 3 acre land to grow plants and veggies. That's enough work for me.

There are so many small organic business farms in my area, it wouldn't be worth my effort to start another one here.
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11-28-2011, 11:47 PM
If one figures in labor cost I dont believe one can turn a profit. However, there is value in the enjoyment, excercise, and sense of accomplishment. So maybe it is profitable.

Mr Yan
12-10-2011, 09:00 PM
Final numbers for my year:

112.68 pounds of produce
$1.7749 per pound

Cost based on what I spent this year on soil mix and amendments.

This is from a no more than 100 sq feet of traditional bed gardens and about 30 containers (mostly 5 gallon buckets with some 10 gallon, 18 gallon, and 25 gallon mixed in).

I don't count labor or time as I would be out in my gardens if they were producing food or not.

03-31-2012, 07:52 AM
I plant vegetables in the greenhouse (http://www.quictents.com/quictent-greenhouse) all year old.....I love to eat what I plant myself.

07-09-2012, 03:14 PM
I had more Roma tomatoes (http://homegrowntomatoestips.com/an-overview-of-roma-tomatoes/) and lettuce than we could eat, but it's done now. Did I save money? Probably not, by the time you factor in the cost of work it takes to grow them.

07-20-2012, 03:07 AM
I spent so much in my gardening. I have to buy this and that, to name a few - pots, fertilizers, mulches, gardening tools, etc.
but all worth for every penny spent. Gardening for some ainít just a hobby but doing it to earn a living.

07-21-2012, 02:32 AM
Hi all,

I am new to the forum, but not new to gardening. When I started, OGM had an article about "cardboard gardening" and that is what I started with. Well, the bermuda lawn had other ideas and actually invaded the 5 rows of compost on the cardboard, but I still grew enough corn to eat fresh 3x per week (family of 3) and put up enough to have corn on the cob each week in the winter. The tomatoes produced a bazillion between the slicers and the cherries. The peppers managed to outgrow the bermuda too, so we had awesome red and green bell peppers for cooking in the summer and I roasted and froze in oil enough to get through the winter using them 2-3x per week.

At the end of that season, I sat down and started doing research on the internet and thought about what worked and what didn't and why it didn't. But, being the queen of cheap, there was no way I was going to spend money to have the garden I truely wanted. Making my own compost in some wire cages I made from recycled decorative wire fencing was the first step that I had taken the year before (that is where the compost for the cardboard came from LOL), but I realized I would need MORE, MORE, MORE compost than what I could generate from my property. That was the birth of my raids for grass clippings in the neighborhood :D

So, now we are at the beginning of the next spring and I decided that garden weed barrier (the black plastic stuff with the white fuzzy back) would be an acceptable expense. <face palm> So, I bought a garden claw and got the spade shovel out and went to work on a 10'x10' garden bed ... many hours later of digging and pulling bermuda roots, I was ready to pull apart the compost piles and work that in to the new bed. There wasn't much color difference in the red clay soil after the compost, but there was plenty of organic matter and that was a great garden that year. My only problem was trying to lay the weed barrier on a day when the wind was blowing 30mph and not having enough bricks to form a line of bricks end-to-end around the edges of the plastic.

So, not only do I scrounge the grass clippings in the summer, and fall leaves in the fall, I will not pass up a pile of brick or rocks ;D Drives the old man absolutely CRAZY LOL I also bring in cattle panels, fencing, and anything else metal or plastic that I think I can use. Once you start looking, you would be amazed at what folks will throw away! I also scored a bunch of old railroad ties that had been leached in the weather. And, a few years ago, a internet-buddy talked me into not using the garden plastic and using solarized grass clippings as mulch. OMG, the savings in water, the health of the plants, and the reduction of heat-stress on the plants when it is 100+ every day for a month solid with no rain!

I now have the original bed at 12'x50' with chocolate brown soil (not the red clay I started out with!), another bed at 11'x40', and a third bed at 9'x21' all on my small little city lot. I have gone from opening a can or frozen bag 2x per week in the winter to opening at least one can or freezer bag of vegetable from my garden 4-5x per week. When I started in 1995, you could still find DelMonte cans on sale once a month 4/$1.00 or 6/$1.00 ... now you are lucky if you can find them for less than 75cents sale price. A gallon of milk back then was $1.25/gallon and now it is $4.00/gallon! Water each month back then was $30 when I watered the lawn each week and the garden 2x per day, now it is $65 per month with only watering the lawn once per month and mulching with grass and using soaker hoses.

The biggest savings from my garden is the peace of mind I get as that is "MY TIME" and no one bothers me when I am out there watering or harvesting LOL The hours of therapy I didn't need! The hours I didn't need to spend at the gym.

08-22-2012, 08:58 AM
Hey all, anyone here ever do the math to see how much you might be saving through your garden as opposed to if you purchased your items through the grocery store on a per week, per month or per year basic? I think that would be interesting feedback to hear.

I think most gardeners are in the negative when growing their own, but is it just about the money?? What about the positive health benefits, sense of achievement, well being etc.?? My garden costs a small fortune, but it keeps me sane

08-22-2012, 10:54 PM
My garden doesn't save me money, but it's so therapeutic, maybe it does in the long run...keeps me healthy and sane. I love looking at seed and garden catalogs, and i could probably spend a million bucks on hydroponic and aquaponic setups and supplies if I didn't keep myself under control. It's my hobby. I always expected to lose money not make it! ;) But my homegrown tomatoes are priceless!

11-22-2012, 12:25 PM
Lower Your Food Bill

Stop paying for fresh food when you can
grow all you need for almost no effort.
Stop eating fresh food that you don't know about: Pesticides? Bacteria? Genetically modfied?
Start eating right and protect yourself and your family and put $5000 back in your pocket.

Food. It's the most the most important thing to all of us. I bet you didn't realise just how much you could save on your food bill each year. We researched and calculated the average family spends around $5000 per year on fresh food. That is a huge amount of money considering the average family earns less than $100,000 per year. That is almost 5% of your income you could save on your food bill.

Seriously. Control your food bill and you will get more control over your finances.

Consider this. If I told you all you needed to do was take half a day - ok let's say one full day, (considering most people will procrastinate) and less than $100 and you will be well on your way to reducing your food bill by around $5000 per year! After your half day of work (or full day) you only need to spend another few hours during the year checking over your vegetable garden and picking food from it. Then each year after that, your garden seeds itself and starts growing more food all over again with little effort from you.

If you're a seasoned gardener or you know one who has a vegetable garden I bet they'd tell you it takes a lot more work than that. Well I can confidently tell you, they have it all wrong. I know this fellow Jonathan White. Jonathan is a Horticulturalist and Environmental Scientist who has dedicated his life to working out how to produce food in the easiest possible way. This guy lives on a small farm and has a garden that produces all the food he, his wife and two kids need each year. Better still, he has proven his method has he has been doing this for years.

Let me tell you another thing about why you really, really need to get your act together and start growing your own food. Pesticides, Imported food, genetically modified food and bacteria.

Did you know they grow tomatoes in China, export them to Italy and then re-export them around the world as Italian tomatoes?

Do you remember the outbreak of E.Coli a few years back? That was a breakout of bacteria in baby spinach.

Are you aware that many foods sold are not clearly labelled as genetically modified? You'd never know. Some scientists say you have nothing to worry about and others say the process of life is so delicate and intricate that a small change in one part of the process can have dramatic changes in other areas and we might never know.

Did you know that most fresh food travels long distance - mainly by road - before it gets to your supermarket? If oil skyrockets again - which the so called experts predict - what effect on prices do you think that will have on your food bill? It may not be $5000 you save but could be anywhere up to $6000, $7000 or even more.

I highly recommend you get your hands on Jonathan's book and video package, Food4Wealth. It takes you through everything you need to know to get your own vegetable garden up and running successfully with the least amount of effort.

Just having Jonathan's book and getting you in this mindset is insurance against the volatility this world is throwing at all of us. Get control of your food bill starting today. Stop putting it off. In a year you'll either be thankful for finding out about this invaluable ebook and video package or you'll be kicking yourself that you didn't start sooner.

02-18-2013, 03:09 PM
I realize this is a 3 month old thread, but it is something I have thought of often. No doubt knowing what chemicals or lack of chemicals is important, but its tough to ignore the cost going into the garden as well. As enjoyable it is to harvest my own produce, I have very poor soil that requires a lot of maintenance. Finding and planting things that grow well in your soil, while avoiding things that do not grow well can take a dent out of our pride, but may be the possibility of trading food with people you know. Always be on the lookout for deals at garage sales and craigs list for gardening tools, etc. If time that you spend in the garden is enjoyable and is not a factor, then that is great. Me on the other hand would rather find easier and quicker ways to grow and harvest food. Using plastic sheet material to warm the soil and suppress weeds is one of those ways. Finding cheap or free plastic material would be even better. All in all, its tough to put a value on the entire gardening thing, but I suppose its possible. Calculate the amount of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc and the supermarket price of each one, minus the fertilizer, water, etc to get a rough idea. There will always be plant losses due to frost, heat, etc, but planting your own seeds in the house or greenhouse can help offset the cost. Best of luck to everybody. Mike's Plans.

09-24-2013, 01:20 AM
Will check later. My internet connection right now is so bad it takes forever to load the Youtube page.

09-24-2013, 01:41 AM
Gardening has just been a hobby for me and I wasnít really expecting it to have a significant impact on household expenses on food. Still, I think like any hobby itís bound to show some returns after some time. Right now all I'm after is that feeling of peace and contentment while I'm tending my plants.

03-14-2014, 08:26 AM
I agree with everyone here. If gardening is a hobby you will never save money! I learned this last year as I thought by gardening I would save my family money. But it turns out I was at the garden stores every other day. This year my goal is to spend only money on seeds. Im gonna try and save money this year. Fruit trees are a worthwhile investment that will pay you back 100 times what you put into them if you give them enough time!

03-28-2014, 03:18 AM
I have to say that I am not sure if my garden saves me money, because it is such great therapy, I did get plenty of veggies last year and was able to give some to my neighbors, I really enjoyed working in it. A lot of effort and money goes into gardening but I don't regret it at all.

04-19-2014, 01:18 AM
I have taken the time to figure out the cost and it comes down to what your time is worth. If you look at everything except your time; than yes it does save you money. I think we can all agree that there is a tremendous amount of time involved, and what is your time worth? With that said, forget the time factor and as others have mentioned look at the quality of the food, the personal therapy, and the quality family time. Seeing my family work together for the benefit of the family is priceless! It teaches children to appreciate that food doesn't grow in grocery stores. It involves hard work for someone. Also, don't forget the quality. You know what the plants have or haven't been treated with, you know how the food has been handled, and when you walk from your garden to your house; you know the food is as fresh as it gets. Enjoy your garden, it is worth it on many levels.

04-29-2014, 10:02 PM
Enjoy your garden, it is worth it on many levels.

I think that's the key here. If I were to check dollar by dollar, my garden probably isn't saving me much money at all but it is serving as a great way to develop something I can completely care for and be proud of.

05-04-2014, 08:02 PM
Personal satisfaction from gardening - PRICELESS!

08-20-2014, 08:30 PM
Hi Guys,

where do you buy cheap tools and supplies?
was thinking of using my local classifieds site to check out some stuff.

What's your opinion?

10-22-2015, 12:42 PM
I love organic foods

10-24-2015, 08:24 AM
I love my garden

12-15-2015, 06:13 PM
Does my garden save me money... well, yes and no! There are some things that don't like my climate (nights are cold for tomatoes and cukes which I buy) but kale, chard, squash and root vegetables thrive here.

Here are two thoughts on a money saving garden:

1. DIY and recycle!
Buying expensive compost tumblers make a garden less profitable. Why not build your own compost bin out of scrap lumber, or even make an open pile and cover it with old tarps. If you have critters (say chickens) let them help with the composting. Allow wild "weeds" to serve as companions in your garden (chamomile draws up minerals from deep in the soil, wild radish is delicious and distracts bugs from eating young brassicas, wild Mexican marigolds are beautiful and deter pests, etc). Improve your soil by planting in a smart rotation and using green manures (again, think local and wild! Why not let wild mustard be your green manure crop?) instead of expensive amendments. If you want a garden to save money I think you have to get creative with your inputs.

2. What does it mean to save money on your garden? For me it is about more than just dollars and cents. My home grown vegetables are more than organic. They are grown as part of a cycle that enriches my soil, improving my land. They feed my family and my animals. They produce green material for my compost. I know every input that went into them. They are part of an ecosystem that has dedicated wild spaces to provide habitat for birds, squirrels, lizards, frogs and even deer. My footprint on the planet is smaller.

If you ask me, one of my homegrown carrots is worth a 5lb sack of organic store bought ones!

12-15-2015, 06:25 PM
I have to say that I am not sure if my garden saves me money, because it is such great therapy, I did get plenty of veggies last year and was able to give some to my neighbors, I really enjoyed working in it. A lot of effort and money goes into gardening but I don't regret it at all.

I think the value of a home garden is so much more than just the amount of money you save at the supermarket. You build relationships with neighbors (perhaps start a bartering system, trading veggies for meat or honey or other goods). If you are sensible with planting rotations and cover crops you improve your soil, creating a valuable resource for the future. You limit your carbon footprint. You can dedicate "wild" areas of your yard to provide habitat for wildlife which in turn will help pollinate and manage pests in your garden. You are enriching your environment while most commercial farms, even organic ones, are harming it. This is priceless.

02-04-2016, 10:43 AM
I think it would depend where you shop. i dont think i have saved any money

07-16-2019, 12:28 PM
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If you get 100 apples from a mature tree...