Can growing your own vegetables save you money?

 

At least that is my goal. But at the beginning, you could easily spend more than what you harvest from the garden. In the long run, the goal is to save money.

When I first started gardening in 2014, I purchased English mint and Peppermint plants as well as some other herbs and seeds. I also purchased strawberry crowns, bare root canes of raspberry and blackberry. I was living in a rental duplex. I purchased 50 lbs. bag of manure. I laid down junk mails on the lawn and put the compost bags on them. I cut the top part of the bag and poked the bottom for drainage. I planted raspberry, blackberry, and strawberries in them. I planted one raspberry per bag and one blackberry per bag. I sowed some herbs seeds like winter savory and English thyme around the raspberry and blackberry. I planted 6 strawberries crowns per bag. I sowed many seeds in the ground and tomatoes in the bags. All grew this well that year. When we moved out in September 2014, I moved the bags to our new place. I didn’t moved the tomatoes and peppers. I harvested what I could harvest and cleaned up the area. That says a lot about annuals. Unless you save your own seeds, you have to buy their seeds every year and plant them every year.  I still have my original raspberry and blackberry plants. I originally purchased Chester and Triple Crown blackberry, Carolina and -Polka Red raspberry crowns. I continued to propagate them and by 2017, I have many of them in my garden.  My easiest way to propagate blackberry is to let the tips of the canes touch the ground during the growing season. In early spring, I cut the cane off a foot above the ground and remove the new bare root to plant in the location I want. Raspberry plants produce a lot of shoots in spring. I remove some with roots on and transplant them. I still have my original strawberry plants as well but lost many during the move. I purchased many more after that as well as one or two more varieties of raspberry and one thorny blackberry plant. In 2017 we have a bountiful of blackberries and raspberries that we ever have since I started gardening in 2014 and I know it is just the beginning.

Gardening has not been all successful for me. I made a lot of mistakes as well.

In 2015, I planted many seeds for the first time and weeds them out after they sprouted as I could distinguish them from the weeds. I purchased strawberries crowns and a thorny blackberry and 2 raspberry plants. I lost most of them. My garden was not fence and Deer and bunnies destroyed some of my plants.

I decided to plant more perennial vegetables as well as fruit trees. I chose exotic fruit trees that grocery stores don’t carry their fruits but the trees are hardy to my zone 5. Among them are American persimmon, milder, white currant, red currant, black currant, pawpaw, mulberry, European elderberry, autumn olive, goumi, seaberry, silverberry, serviceberry, aronia, honey berry, goji berry, Rosa rugose, and quince. Later that year I added blueberry, wild blueberry, and plum. I started to fence my front yard.

In 2016, I lost few trees including, goji berry, silverberry, and one seaberry to deer and bunnies. I fenced both front and back yards to keep deer out but not bunnies. Bunnies destroys some of my vegetables as I focused on growing more vegetables in 2016.

That same year we spent a lot of money at pick your own farm in fruit like apple and strawberry. I realized that I purchased fruit trees that my family never eaten the fruits before and felt like I could have lost a lot of money if they turned out not to produce enough fruit for your annual fruit consumption. Therefore, I decided to add more fruit trees targeting the yield and what my family already like to eat.

 

In 2017,  I finished fencing to keep both deer and bunnies out. I  increased my garden at the back. I introduced many grape vines, fig, plum,  blueberry, another Maine blueberry,  peach, another quince,  pear, many apple trees,  apricots, sweet cherry, sour cherry, June bearer and ever bearer strawberries,  American elderberry, and many asparagus seedlings.  Most of the fruit trees, I planted two varieties for pollination.

You would ask me if I live in a farm. The answer is no. I live in a city on a little 10,000 sq. ft. land. My house is about 1,000 sq. ft. not included 1 car garage, a little patio at the front and back.

To make good use of the space, my husband and I planted a lot of fruit trees in the front yard which is the West side. I mulched the entire front yard with wood chips and fenced it from deer and bunnies by 2017. Around my fruit trees, I planted my vegetables and herbs. We rented 2 plots at a community garden Each plot is 10ft by 20 ft for $25 / year. I planted many vegetables there and they produced well.

As you can see my trees are still young and not producing quite yet. In 2017 I harvested a lot of goumi. So far currants, blackberries, raspberries, goumi, and Rosa rugosa are producing. Meldar produced one fruit in 2017 as well. So it is an investment and takes a little time to start seeing the result.

During my trees selection I included some nitrogen fixing plants like, silverberry, goumi, autumn olive, and seaberry. I am building a more sustainable garden where mulch retains water for the plants while decreasing weeds, and nitrogen fixing plants would provide nitrogen to the plants around them while supplying us with fruit and vegetables. I let my vegetables go to seeds which attract bees and insects to the garden which is crucial for pollination. I am introducing medicinal herbs as well for my homemade natural pharmacy.

Since 2014, I spent quite a bit on my garden:

In 2014 I spent $478.77.

Compost: $ 12.32

Dirt: $130

Seeds: $189

Fruit trees: $147.45

In 2015, I spent about $739.12 in seeds and fruit plants.

Fruit trees: $447.33

Compost: $20

Seeds: $271.79 including $133.60 for 7lbs of Grey shallots.

In 2016 I spent: $917.16.

Fruit trees: $137.00

Compost: $10

Seeds: $240.45

Cinder Blocks: $39

Fence: $490.71

In 2017 I spent: $1,707.45

Fruit trees: $ 791.40

Seeds: $426.85 including but not limited to $100.95 in potatoes, $26 for sunchokes, and $97 for yellow potato onion.

Fence: $ 439.20

Community Garden rent: $ 50

In 2018 I spent so far: $ 149.00

Fruit trees: $0

Seeds: $99.00

Fence: $0

Community Garden rent: $50

Since 2014 I have spent well over $3,991.50 in my vegetable garden. What about you?

I have not broken even yet.

In 2016, we spent over $600 at the pick your own farm. We have a budget of $960 a year to spend on fruit. But we buy most of our fruit on sale at the grocery store to stay within budget. I spent a lot on the garden hoping we would be able to cut our fruit and food budgets down over time when our garden supplies us with fruit and vegetables. It is a long term and very interesting goal I striving to reach. In the meantime, I set small goals to reach every year in the garden. In 2017 for instance, I wanted the garden to look full all the growing season. I planted in a way to have many things growing in the garden from spring to fall. In 2018, one of the goals is to spend no more than $100 on seeds and trees.

What about you? Why do you garden?