Growing your own vegetables provides you with healthy, fresh produce. Not to mention the joy it brings to get your hands dirty, smell the freshly turned soil and to see your plants grow and bear fruit. But does growing your own vegetables also make economic sense? After all, you do have expenses as you need to buy seeds and/or seedlings, compost, mulch, tools etc. And then there is the manual labor, even if for most gardeners it is a “labor of love”. Every year, I have the best intention to try to answer this question but every year I fail to record the weight and amount of produce harvested in order to assess the monetary value of my garden. This past season was no different.
I do have numbers for the input though. In 2018, I spent a total of $ 114.07 on seeds, seedlings, seed garlic, seed potatoes and supplies. In detail, I spent the following:
- Sand Hill Preservation Center (seeds) 18.00
- Fedco (seed potatoes) 18.00
- Johnny’s (seeds) 9.45
- Home Depot (manure etc., herb seedlings) 29.83
- Agricultural Hall Jamaica Plain (2 x hay) 26.00
- Burpee (seed garlic) 12.79
I believe I definitely got my money’s worth growing my own vegetables even though I can’t say precisely how much money I saved. In 2018, I bought only one single head of garlic in between the last harvested head of 2017 and the first cured head of 2018 (and we use a lot of garlic, sometimes 6 to 8 cloves in one dish). I did not buy any chard, green beans or cucumbers (or many other vegetables) all through the summer. I make a home-cooked dinner for my family of four almost every night, we rarely eat out (maybe once a month) and order take-out maybe once or twice a year, so there is a lot of cooking in my kitchen. I grew almost all the herbs I used all summer and fall — even though the sage and flat parsley in my plot mysteriously died over the summer (I had potted parsley and sage on the back porch).
I have a few “hard” numbers from my harvests though: I harvested a total of about 25 pounds of cucumbers (from a set of 3-4 plants), a disappointing amount of only about 4 lbs. of fingerling potatoes, about 20 lbs. of tomatoes. My garlic harvest was much smaller this season (about 25 heads) and as of right now (mid-January), I have only 3 full heads left. I harvested about 2 dozen leeks. I have no numbers for the beans (but there sure was a ton of them), beets, salad greens, squash, eggplant, carrots, radishes, asparagus, rhubarb, Brussels sprouts, chard, kale or hot peppers.
I produced about $60 worth of tomatoes alone (again from three plants) , assuming a price of $3 per pound. So, even with a small plot like mine you can grow the variety and the amount of organic, super-tasty vegetables needed to truly supplement your family’s diet over the summer and fall, saving you money.