Gardening – Money Saver or Not

My husband doesn’t know it yet, but he will be turning over the ground for my garden tomorrow morning.  I haven’t had a garden since 2008 and cannot wait to get the seeds in the ground. 

Here are the crops that we plant regularly:

Cool season:  Sugar snap peas, radishes, lettuce, and arugula.

Hot season:  Tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, cilantro, Thai eggplant, purple eggplant, spicy basil, lemongrass, Thai basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupe, Thai peppers, okra, and mint.

We save money buy planting items that we consume a lot of, such as sugar snap peas, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and zucchini.  We also save money by planting items that cost a pretty penny in the grocery store, such as arugula, bell peppers, Thai eggplant, purple eggplant, lemongrass, Thai peppers, and the fancy leaf lettuces.  Lastly, we save money by growing fresh herbs that we use fresh at our leisure, or dry to fill up our spice rack.  The rest we plant just for fun, such as the watermelons and cantaloupes.

For me, planting the herbs and Thai spices are the most important.  These single things seem to cost the most at the grocery store for a tiny portion.  These items tend to rot in the refrigerator “crisper”, because we don’t use an entire package at one fell swoop.  If you haven’t noticed, cilantro has a shelf life of about 1.5 days!

Have you ever had a garden?  If not, here are some things to think about before you ever pick up a shovel or buy your first seed.

1) Do you have sunshine?

* Fruiting Vegetables need 6 hours – 8 hours of sun.  This includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and vine crops such as cucumbers, melons, and squash.  This also includes many herbs, such as basil.

* Root Vegetables need 4-6 hours of sun.  This includes carrots, beets, etc.

* Leafy Vegetables need 4 hours of sun.  These are your “greens” such as lettuce, spinach and collards.

2) Do you have land?  Or do you have the space for a container garden?

I have had garden plots from small (3’x5′), medium (6’x10′), and large (17’x25′).  I have also had successful container gardens, especially when growing tomatoes, herbs, and peppers.

3) Do you like getting dirty?

Digging around in the dirt and compost isn’t high on some people’s likes list.  Neither is getting sweaty, getting mosquito bites, and dealing with grubs, insects, and other pests.

4) Do you have the time?

Once you put in the initial work, you will need to do maintenance on a weekly basis at the bare minimum.  Ideally, you will be in the garden every few days pulling weeds, inspecting for disease, drought, bug damage, etc…  You will be tending the plants, pinching suckers off, tying up branches on sticks/stakes, mulching, and fertilizing.  Don’t forget the harvesting!  If you are growing herbs, you will need to pinch the plants back frequently so they don’t bolt.  If you have fruits and veggies, you cannot let them rot on the plant or go to “seed”.

5) Do you have easy access to water?

Several years ago we had a severe drought and I used rain barrels to water my garden.  I had to use a sprinkler can and go back and forth from the rain barrel to the garden.  Half of my garden died.  I’ve also used sprinklers where the spigot was on the opposite side of the house from where the garden was.  Half of that garden died too due to not remembering on a regular basis to turn on the water (out of sight, out of mind) and too many issues working out the kinks in a 150ft hose.

I see articles all over the web that say: Money saving tip – Plant your own garden!  Gardening tools, supplies, compost, fertilizers, mulch, seeds, plants, water, etc…  all generally cost money.  Your time is also money.  The time spent gardening is time you could be doing something else that you will have to give up to garden.

If you can say yes to these 5 questions, then jump in and have fun!  If you say no to these questions then you may want to second think your garden idea.  I’m not saying that it couldn’t or wouldn’t work, but you might not get a good return on your investment of time, energy, and money.  At that point, gardening is no longer frugal.  It is more cost effective to buy your veggies at the farmer’s market or grocery store.

Frugal tip of the day:  If you are overwhelmed by the idea of gardening, start small and plant high dollar items, such as herbs and unique veggies.  An herb garden can be as small as a 2’x3′ plot or a few nicely sized containers.  You’ll make your initial investment back quickly by never having to pay $2.25 for 3 sprigs of basil again!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Tags: , ,

One Response to Gardening – Money Saver or Not

  1. […] plant, or not to plant, that is the question.  Almost a year ago, I wrote a great post about Saving Money With Gardening.  Even though I wasn’t able to tend to my garden properly last year, we still reaped the […]

Leave a Reply

Name and Email Address are required fields. Your email will not be published or shared with third parties.

 Subscribe in a reader