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June 10, 2008


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JD at GetRichSlowly is documenting the process this summer, including all time and money spent on his garden to see how much he saves. You may be interested in following this until the end of summer to see how much produce he gets for his money/work.

I'm starting a square foot garden this summer. It's a little work to get up and going the first year, but then it's pretty simple to keep going from year to year and to maintain in season. You also get the benefit of only having to buy seeds every few years through this method instead of every time that you want to plant.

And I'm not sure why asparagus is more expensive - it takes a few years to come in, but you plant it once and it will come back on its own every year.

I'm a gardener and have been for 30 years. I do this for the enjoyment and I like the fresh produce with no chemicals. Certain things I don't grow any more that I used to include:

sweet corn

Things I grow now that I didn't use to grow:


Things I have always grown include:

green beans
herbs of all types
flowers of all types

The stuff I no longer grow is easier to buy and/or I never could grow the stuff as well as the farmer's market growers. I can grow more perennial plants now that I've been in the same house for 12 years.

I also think to be truly accurate you have to factor in the cost of land in your calculations. Even if it's just your back yard, you have paid for it with a down payment and mortgage. And you're also paying property taxes on it.

I've grown a vegetable garden for about twenty years now, and it isn't about the money. There's a certain satisfaction implicit in growing your own produce and creating meals from it. There's also a significant difference in the quality and taste of home grown vegetables, especially tomatos. When I was a child, I spent my summers at my Aunt's house, and they grew an enormous organic garden (this was California in the Sixties), and so there's also a pleasant feeling of nostalgia involved in growing - and eating - some of the same vegetables. It also often provides me with the opportunity to be generous to others, as a well-grown garden provides an abundance of fresh vegetables that I give away to friends, neighbors and family.

I've grown tomato and basil plants for the past 2 years. I'm still learning a lot...but its enjoyable to start something from seeds and watch it grow. It's not actually that much work, then again I don't have a large garden by any means. Last year I also tried green onions, bell peppers, and some other type of pepper...but after figuring out what I actually used the most, I pared it down to just cherry tomatoes and basil this year.

I agree. . . gardening is about much more than just saving money. However, I feel that I save in my grocery budget because gardening changes the way I cook. When we have fresh produce, we eat much smaller cuts of meat, and I rarely buy packaged food. If I didn't eat this way, I'd eat out a lot more and spend more at the grocery store!

Interesting thoughts. Anyone wanting to make money from this should look at the farming industry in the U.S. - I seriously think we get most of the benefit from the freshness and quality of the food, coupled with the intense spiritual/soulfulness that comes from growing something yourself, essentially playing god in our own little acre of dirt (or 12-foot patch). Vegetables can be picked at sizes and tenderness that you will not find in your grocery store, and just prior to cooking and eating. Okra (and sometimes asparagus) has a way of being left growing too long, then gets old quickly in the store. Tomatoes also are never as good as homegrown. Buying from another grower may be a way to go, but that is a separate trip from the grocery store, but I would buy corn that way, particularly if wanting a bushel or a peck for freezing - corn starts to lose its sweetness after it's picked.

Gardening is probably rarely cheaper than buying food at the grocery store. However, like many people above said, you cant discount the lack of travel time for your food. started a garden this year, and while its been hard ( a deer took too much interest in my herbs) its still worth it. There's something to be said for the excitement of see new vegis suddenly appear, and then the anticipation of that yummy fresh food.

For me, just about all plants are cost effective because what I can grow in my garden is organic, and comparing the cost of organic produce at the store to organic produce from my garden, it's well worth it to grow just about everything that will grow.

Plus, the health benefits of eating something that's fresh picked are enormous! From that standpoint alone, it's probably a good investment to have your own garden

For those following our gardening project, we've finally begun harvesting strawberries and peas. This has been a very abnormal weather year in Portland. Things were about average until April 15th, but since then it has been exceptionally cold and damp. Especially cold. Our strawberries aren't good because they've had no sun. Every other crop is behind. Kris heard a news report the other day that said blueberries and caneberries (including raspberries) could be as much as a month late this year. In other words, this is going to be a worst-case scenario year for yields from our garden.

It really depends on your climate. Bell peppers are no good in my climate. Chili peppers or tomatoes are much better as they are very prolific. Don't forget nut trees either. Sometimes fighting the pests are too much trouble though.

We are striving to hone our garden to grow foods we really like, that are nutritious, and that are cheaper (potentially) to grow ourselves than to buy. Not many foods are cheaper to grow than to buy in any form at the store; however, many foods are cheaper to grow than to purchase organic and beautiful at the store.

We also want to grow our own food to advance our process of consuming more local, in-season foods. We are supplementing our garden with food from a community-supported agriculture (CSA) enterprise and a purchase of a quarter of a local beef this spring. I blog frequently about the process.

I would say homegrown berries (especially our strawberries ... put them in last year and now they are just growing) are cheaper to grow. We don't find onions to be worthwhile to grow, because good, inexpensive ones are available at the store -- and the volume we consume (perhaps 150 lbs. per year) is prohibitive on our city lot.

Wheat is a good example of something that requires tons of space for the amount we use. Yet I blogged last week about discovering that flour (25-lb. bags from Costco) prices for us increased 78 percent in the last year. That makes a good excuse for saving money on food -- to offset those amazing increases.

If you have the room I would not rule out having some fun with different potato and carrot varieties. My reason for growing anything is multifold: 1. I know where it came from 2. I controlled its growth 3. I chose the seed source, all come to mind.

I have used speciality seed companies in the past:
Territorial seed
Nichols seed

My gardens have ranged from Containers to as large as 75 feet by 100, that I shared with my employees. We have bought the tried and true and experimented with unusuals. It is important to factor in the fun time for you and any children you may have. That is priceless.

I started a square-foot garden this year, although I've been mulling the idea for literally decades. What finally tipped the balance for me was the recalls on food: spinach, tomatoes, bagged salad. All of these are very simple to grow (I worked on my grandparents' farm as a kid) and are much better tasting when home grown.

This year is a money sink between setting up the beds and purchasing the lumber since we did raised beds, but it will definitely pay for itself quickly. The last tomatoes I bought at the store cost me nearly $7 for two pretty red tasteless fruit.

Within Australia (at the moment) unless you have your own tankwater it is SO costly to grown your own produce.
We are all on MAJOR water restrictions and bucket watering (with grey water - however, not recommended for vege gardens) is only allowed with local water supply.
I must admit buying local produce at next to nothing prices wins hands down compared to lifting heavy buckets which does not save time, is not cost effective or good for our backs.
The joy of gardening has diminished until the rains come again - please God.

Just found this article about how cheap and easy it is to grow asparagus:

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