Does Gardening Really Save You Money?

Interest in gardening is on the rise as people, fed up with rising prices and declining safety and quality standards, seek to produce more of their own food. Even the President has started a garden at the White House. While there is little argument that a properly tended garden raised without a lot of pesticides and handled by very few people will beat the safety standards of most commercially grown produce, the question of whether or not gardening saves money is open for debate. I’ve heard people argue that, considering the time and labor involved in gardening and the expenses of seeds, plants and other supplies, gardening is a money waster, not saver. I don’t think that’s

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12 Responses to Does Gardening Really Save You Money?

  1. SaveBuyLive says:

    Small gardens can save you money if you plant the right things. I would love to have a few pots of fresh herbs. Given that it costs over $3 a pop for some fresh basil where I live, I can already imagine the savings. If I use fresh herbs merely 5 times over the summer I’ve nearly paid for the seeds, pots and soil.

    I have no doubt that you could grow $500-$1500 in produce. Hopefully you’ll follow up with some data in fall showing your gains or losses.

    I’m kind of disappointed that you never mentioned the time commitments it takes to garden. Especially given the magnitude of your gardening endeavor. Again, hopefully you’ll post some data at the end of the season. I’d really like to see the value of produce produced per unit time.

    If you love gardening, then it’s probably a fun hobby that can save you a lot of money. If you aren’t into it, you’re probably better off keeping it small.

  2. Monkey Mama says:

    Agreed with comment #1. As always there is the whole time tradeoff (if you don’t enjoy it).

    It’s kind of funny though. I honestly don’t know anyone with a garden who spends much money on it. I haven’t run across any like your neighbor. Some dirt in the backyard and some very inexpensive seeds is the way to go. People around here are really into composting too.

  3. Lori says:

    I would also like to hear how much time you spend on the garden over the season, and the types of produce it yields. Monetarily, it would be worth more to me to grow tomatos than zuccinni, since we eat more of those and they are more expensive at the store.

    Great article, we’ll be moving into a house soon and a garden is something I am considering.

  4. Princessperky says:

    I bet lots of folk can save money, but I wont..can’t grow anything right, so I stick with flowers, no expectation of saving, and no worries if they fail.

  5. Henry says:

    Wow, it’s strange, we’re really going back in time due to the financial crunch. First bartering, now gardening. With Swine Flu, city people are going to start looking at farming.

  6. Martha says:

    When you talk about saving money by gardening, consider the hidden and obvious costs of exercise.

    We spend quite a bit of time and energy (calories) gardening and call it our health club membership.

    Whether flowers, vegetables or herbs are grown, the gardener gets the exercise, time outside, relaxation and the fun of seeing their work yield something.

    Lots of new gardeners are growing vegetables for salads and stir fry for the health of the food they provide and the safety of growing their own.

  7. baselle says:

    This post reminds me of your Buying Instead of Doing post – its the same principle. Actual gardening is fairly cheap – soil, seed, knowledge and time. Pretend gardening – where you run the rototiller because it means that all your neighbors know you’re gardening, etc… that’s expensive.

    I have to take a small issue with the heirloom, open pollinated seeds. They are a bit more expensive, but since they are not hybrids you can save the seed for next year. In other words, if you are clever you only have to buy once. Of course if you are very clever, simply buy an extra heirloom tomato or pepper, save the seed and start from there.

  8. Dave says:

    You didn’t really make your case in your article. I didn’t see any hard facts or figures or references. Does gardening actually save you money? I still don’t know.

    How much money does it cost for the soil, the seeds, the water (a big one these days), the fencing, the equipment, etc?

    How much money does it cost to run your deep freezer to store your bumper crop?

    Does it save money over going to a farmer’s market or directly to a pick-your-own farm?

    Now of course you can go 100% organic and not use pesticides or processed sewage water for irrigation. That can have more value than you can put a dollar amount on.

  9. Meaghan says:

    there must be plenty of ways to save money and make it worth it…the info is out there!

  10. Justin says:

    We plant a large garden with everything we know when can eat on for the year. Whether it’s vegis, fruit, or herbs…it’s saves us a tremendous amount of money. Once items are ready, we do our own canning. Some people believe it’s not worth the time but if you enjoy even a bit of it, it will save you money.

  11. Ruthie says:

    We just moved to a new place and expect to be here for 3 years. We obtained a plot in an organic community garden. We are very budget-conscious and are really working to make this garden pay off. There are some expenses, as we keep track of our spending that we are dividing out over the 3 years we are here (the food saver, mason jars for canning, deep freeze, etc) that help the initial shock of the expense. We also purchased everything but the food saver at thrift stores or garage sales. THAT saved us big as well. We started almost everything from seed.

    We approach it this way, if at bare minimum we break even on what we would have spent on veggies, then we’ve won. Not only that, but we get to eat organic, seasonal, fresh veggies which would cost us an arm and a leg to purchase from a farmers market, grocery, or co-op. We wouldn’t be able to afford to eat as well if we bought the things we are growing.

    We are keeping a tally of what we harvest, the conventional pricing and the organic pricing. At the rate we’re going, I fully expect to not only “make back” what we’ve spent on the garden, but also reducing our food cost throughout the winter, given our “preserving” of it all.

    If we weren’t thinking of preserving some of what we’ve grown, and if we were just growing our garden to have fresh summer veggies, then I am not certain it would be economical for us to make the garden investment. Because we are committed to eating the fresh veggies, but ALSO to preserve them for winter, we’ll most certainly come out on top.

  12. New to Gardening says:

    Research has shown that frozen veggies have more vitamin than fresh from the farmers garden. More than the trucked in “fresh” veggies from the south in the winter. Eating and freezing your own organic veggies would be cheaper than buying them. Organic food is very expensive where I live.

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