Starting a garden is one option that many people are turning to these days to save money. Recently, our family decided to to give organic vegetable gardening a try to help bring down our grocery expenses. We also wanted to use gardening as a tool to teach our children the importance of the environment and the health of our planet.
We decided to grow several fruit and vegetable crops in our garden that we typically purchase over the course of the summer. Included in the garden are traditional garden plants like tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, squash, green beans, watermelon, and more. What better way to promote a healthy diet than growing your own healthy toxic-free foods!
Organic Vegetable Gardening – The Money Saving Experiment
Since one of the reasons for growing a new garden was to save money on food, I thought it would be fun to track some of these cost savings. To keep it very simple this first year, I plan on tracking our cost savings on one single plant. That lucky plant is the crookneck squash – which is one of our favorite vegetables to eat during the summer.
Expenses to Date
- Cost of Plant – $1
Organic Vegetable Gardening Money Saving Tip – Look for smaller plants at your gardening store to save money. The small plants grow just as well as the large ones and are considerably cheaper.
To date, we have relied strictly on rain water for our garden so we have not incurred any expenses for watering this plant. Since we are growing organic vegetables, we have not used any fertilizers or pesticides in our garden which has reduced the cost of growing the squash. We did purchase $25 worth of organic topsoil to build a good base of soil in our garden for healthy root development. Since this cost is spread across the entire garden and will be used for many years, I am not going to include it in the costs of growing the squash.
The current total out of pocket for this experiment is $1. At some point if we start watering, I may include some expenses to account for an increase in our water bill. However, we are really trying to use as much rain water as possible to avoid any additional expenses.
Our family typically eats crookneck squash at least once per week during the summer months with our meals. Normally we will purchase about 4 of these vegetables per week for a total of $1.50 at the local grocer. Calculating out the purchase of 4 crookneck squash per week for 12 weeks (48 vegetables), I have come up with a rough calculation of $18 spent. Keep in mind this calculation is extremely simplified and only considers the months of June – August.
Since our current expenses are $1 for the experiment, our squash plant would need to yield about 3 vegetables to break even. A better scenario would have the squash plant producing 4 vegetables per week for the 12 weeks. This would account for a savings of $17 over the course of 3 months. An even better scenario would be to produce more vegetables than we could consume that could be traded with neighbors for some of their crops as well as giving extra food away.
Why Track This?
Some of you may be asking why would I care to track such an expense or anticipated cost savings? First, I believe it is important to break small expenses down in your budget to figure out where your money is going. Even the smallest expenses (including the wonderful crookneck squash) are important to identify room for cost savings.
Secondly, I want to have documented proof of why I believe growing a garden can save you a lot of money. In the past, I have only read about potential cost savings of starting a garden. Now I want to prove to myself and others that this can help your bottom line.
Finally, I am only tracking the savings for one plant this year so that I can go all out next year. I decided to start small to show how even the smallest task of planting a squash plant can save you a good chunk of money.
July 2011 Update – This original post was published back in the spring of 2009. Since that time, we actually stopped our organic vegetable gardening experiment because of time concerns. Looking back, this was a mistake and we hope to start a new fresh garden next year.
So what do you think? Do you track these types of small cost savings?