This difficult economy has forced everyone to be more resourceful with their money. Whether this means spending less or making a few extra dollars on the side, people have found ways to stay in the black. One of the popular frugal tips that is often mentioned is to grow your own vegetable garden. The movement to be more environmentally aware has also driven the popularity of growing our own garden.
My wife and I started our own garden this year for the first time. This sounded like another way that we could be responsible with our finances while also contributing towards protecting the environment. It also proved to be quite an enjoyable hobby. I found myself looking forward to watering and harvesting our plants after I got home from work. While I loved the experience, I found some pretty shocking results when I calculated how much we saved from growing our own food.
Why It’s Supposed to Save You Money
Exactly how a garden saves you money is quite simple. The idea is to plant your own “crop” which will provide fruits and vegetables during the summer and fall months. The fruits and veggies from your garden provide food that you would otherwise buy at the store. So, the home-grown produce allows you to significantly lower your grocery bill. It’s as simple as that.
My wife and I are currently renting an apartment. Since we don’t own a backyard that we could dig up, we were forced to use pots for our garden. We split our plants into five separate pots. Here is what we planted:
- Herb Pot (Basil and Rosemary)
- Roma Tomatoes
- Cherry Tomatoes
We weren’t entirely confident on how much sunlight we would get or how well our plants would grow so we didn’t want to get too many plants without knowing how successful our garden would be. As it turned out, our Zucchinis were the only plant that didn’t produce any reasonable amount of fruit. Other than that, our plants did quite well and required very little maintenance. All I had to do was spend a couple of minutes each day to water them.
How Much Our Produce Saved Us
Cherry Tomatoes: 80
Roma Tomatoes: 30
Basil: 20 Cups
While I did not weigh the items (maybe next year), here is the approximate worth of each category, estimating how much it would cost to buy these items in the grocery store.
Cherry Tomatoes: $16
Roma Tomatoes: $15
When you look at the approximate savings of $87 for a small number of plants and with very little time invested, it looks great. However, this also fails to include the cost of buying all of our supplies (pots, starter plants, support sticks for the tomatoes, potting soil, etc.). All of our supplies cost us $80. Yes, I know… There goes practically all of our savings from gardening.
Does Gardening Save You Money?
While the numbers don’t look as great as people often make it sound, my wife and I still came out on top. It is also important to point out that the majority of our costs were to purchase the pots, which are surprisingly expensive. Fortunately, we won’t have these high costs again and it will make our garden even more profitable next year.
If you have a place to plant a large garden (without being forced to buy pots), I think that you can save a lot of money. There are very few upfront costs, and the possibility for savings is higher with the larger size.
Have you saved money by growing your own food? What’s your story?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.