Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Start up Costs of Gardening

I did a rough estimate of the costs of starting up my garden this year with two 4’ by 4’ square foot beds and a plot of ground with a three sisters. My rough estimate is about $150. Here is how it breaks down:
Bed Construction: $25 lumber and screws
Soil: $100 Vermiculite, Compost, and Peat Moss
Plants: $10 3 tomatoes plants, 2 peppers
Seeds: $15 Corn, Pumpkin, Melon, Cucumber, Turnips, and Sunflowers
I would like to recoup the cost of the garden within the first year if possible. I went through an exercise of calculating the potential yield of my garden in money terms. I relied heavily on the Modern Victory Garden website estimates for the average yield per square foot for intensive gardening and my own knowledge of produce prices at my local fresh food store. I selected the prices that are on the lower end for regular (not organic produce) and what I might expect to pay in the summertime when produce is cheaper. This is a fairly hypothetical exercise. I just wanted to see if it was reasonable to assume that gardening could be cost neutral or maybe even result in some cost savings this year.

As a side note, I am not counting the cost of water. It is included in the rent in my new house so it would be difficult to factor in.

It looks like hypothetically, we could break even or have a small savings from growing a garden this year. We spend probably around $100 or more per month on fresh produce right now. If I could cut that in half during the prime gardening months of June-September that would save me approximately $200. It is likely that my garden would continue to produce past that time as I live in a mild climate. I think the startup costs are certainly justified by the potential cost savings. This exercise was good because it helped me to see what crops might save me the most money. I’m thinking that I might even forgo the eggplants and the carrots or plant 1 square for fun. I may end up building one slightly larger vegetable bed and a smaller bed or containers for strawberries and blueberries.

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