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Does Gardening Save You Money?


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.

Our Garden

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:

  1. Herb Pot (Basil and Rosemary)
  2. Cucumbers
  3. Zucchinis
  4. Roma Tomatoes
  5. 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

As the Fall season comes into full swing, I am picking less and less fruit. In fact, I think I picked my last cucumber the other day. With very limited harvesting left, this is a great opportunity to evaluate the productivity of our garden. Here is a detailed look at how many items we harvested this year, broken down by the type of fruit:

Zucchini: 1
Cucumbers: 22
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.

Zucchini: $1
Cucumbers: $15
Cherry Tomatoes: $16
Roma Tomatoes: $15
Basil: $40

Total: $87

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?

This post was written by staff writer Corey from 20’s Finances. His personal finance blog helps people plan for the future. Follow 20’s Finances on Twitter for updates.

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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.


  1. Now that you have your supplies, next year you might save more. Unless you get bit by the gardening bug, in which case you’ll get more stuff. One way to prevent that is to look for free or very cheap pots at yard sales and thrift stores.

    Also, some perennials plants herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme can take you through to next season. Peppers are perennials as well. With a little pruning, peppers in a pot can be brought indoors to weather the winter, and set out again in the spring.

  2. Thanks for the helpful tip about peppers. I didn’t know they were perennials. I have thought about having to get more stuff. 🙂 We’re going to try and keep our costs low next year to celebrate the big savings we are anticipating.

  3. We’ve had an in-ground garden for a few years. We usually plant corn, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and sunflowers. I’m not sure how much it really saves us because we do it more for the fun than anything else.

    • Gardening can be quite enjoyable. I found this to be true and think that this will be why we do it again.

  4. I’ve been wanting to grow herbs on my patio. I’m impressed with how much basil you ended up with. I’ll have to try next spring and see how it goes.

  5. I only grew a few tomatoes in pots this year,
    I am interested in “vertical gardening.”
    Our local Dollar General had 1/2 price seeds at the end of this season and I scooped up several packs of tomatoes, peppers, squashes, herbs, cucumbers, and watermelons for next time.
    You can’t beat the taste of homegrown!
    wendym at cableone dot net

  6. Tomatoes grow great almost anywhere, we had some when we first moved to Georgia but then my dad had less and less time to keep up.

    • That seems to be the case, LaTisha. Tomatoes also taste really good and you can use them for all types of food.

  7. Also, I got large black pots that trees come in at local nursery for free!

  8. We also grow a garden and love it. This year we grew cucumbers, 4 different kinds of peppers, 3 kinds of tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, swiss chard, tons of different winter squash, and zucchini. Our garden usually does quite well and we live on it until next summer. I think it awesome that you are also getting into gardening. Trust me you will fall in love with it.

    • Wow, that is amazing. I certainly do enjoy it.

  9. I’ve been gardening for a couple of years now and really enjoy it.

    I did pretty well with the basil this year also, and fresh basil is usually pretty expensive at the stores.

    I guess if you’re really trying to save money, then the best method would be to try to grow items that are usually the most expensive, like fresh herbs or berries, and also produce that can be stored well for a long time, but then you have to figure the cost of canning or freezing into it.

    I personally do it for enjoyment more than saving money, so I like to experiment with different things like I tried cauliflower this year, not too successfully though.

    I would bet there are some long term monetary savings from the health benefits of working in the garden and relaxation that could be taken into consideration also.

    • Max, that is a very good point about long term benefits as well. This is something people should consider.

  10. Even if gardening doesn’t pay off … consider the intangibles. Quality, foremost. Pleasure from a simple pastime? Perhaps. Easy access for the cook? What about access to plants not available commercially? It’s not just about the dollars and cents.

    • That’s a great point Susan. Gardening pays off in more ways than money.

  11. Yes, gardening is fun. If you have children, gardening can be used as education for them. I don’t think I garden to save myself money. It’s more for children and convenience.

    • I agree that gardening in enjoyable and that everyone has different reasons for doing it.

  12. I grow herbs every year and like the fact I can cut some fresh rosemary for a pork loin, the cost savings is a bonus. Nice topic Derek! Checkout the link below. 😉

    • That sounds great Paul. Way to save money with your garden!

  13. We grew a square foot garden this year. It was very successful. We also spent about $100 bucks on the garden, supplies, plants, etc. We grew 3 large pumpkins which probably put us over the top as far as saving money. It is fun watching the pumpkins grow, the kids loved it! Now, we are planning to buy another raised garden planter for next year to double our crop size. It is a great family activity.

  14. It’s a hard reality to accept that mass-grown produce is done so more efficiently than any of us could do in our own gardens. As such, the cost of produce in supermarkets, assuming we stay out of the fancy-schmancy stores, is going to be competitive to what it would cost us to grow our own. Still, it can be quite rewarding to grow your food and at least you do have the advantage of knowing what fertilizers and pesticides were used.

    • Very true Donna. Growing your own garden sometimes isn’t all that cost effective, and it takes some time to maintain, but at least we know they are pesticide-free. Plus, in the event that our economy flops and prices skyrocket, we’ll be able to survive by the work of our own hands for at least a little while.

  15. Nice idea. I am agree with you that gardening can save money. Thanks for post such important topics.

  16. I would imagine if your garden was organic there would be a good chunk of savings versus buying organic veggies in the store.

  17. I am looking for such a post, thanks for sharing such valuable information.

  18. Gardening is a nice idea for some extra income. I want to start a rooftop garden. So, this is a very helpful post for me. Thank you for sharing such type of nice comments.
    cashing in your pension

  19. I am agreeing with your idea about gardening. Gardening save money in many ways. Really you have done a good job.

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