Your Garden Budget

ezzirah011(7a)September 8, 2012

I was thinking this morning as I was dragging more plants in to put outside. This garden stuff sure is addictive. My husband calls me an addict. (in jest of course) and I think every spring he sees his wife lose her mind in home depot.

I think I spend about 40-50 a month on gardening, between mulch, seeds, compost that I don't make enough of, etc.

About what is everyone's garden budget? I think I am on the low end, actually...

Of course you cannot put a price tag on what some of the things gardening brings...

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Nope. You're not on the low end. Mine is zilch. lol


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:50PM
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I went into starting the veggie garden last fall with the intent to track all my expenses and figure out how much it cost, but along the way I gave up on that. The up front expense of it was pretty high, though. I rented a tiller, got two pickup loads of compost, bought countless bags of wood chip mulch, spent easily over $100 on edging and rabbit fencing, built large trellises for the cukes, bought a full drip irrigation system, and spent a bit on perennials like raspberries and strawberries. The seeds themselves were the cheap part, though I did need to buy a few things for seed-starting indoors.

After actually getting the garden started, though, I haven't spent much more on it unless you count the increase in our water bill. Judging from my weed situation right now I should have spent a LOT more on mulch, and I plan to invest more in that next year. I'd like to pick up more compost, but being pregnant now I think that's going to be too much for me this year. I'll work the compost I have now into the beds in a few months and then go curb shopping for bags of leaves that people leave out for the city. ;)

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:55PM
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I have never made money gardening. Just off the top of my head I can come up with about 7 loads of compost at $10.00 a load plus fuel, 44 bags of manure $1.00 ea.,plus fuel, 4 or 5 loads or leaves and shaving, free + fuel, about $65.00 a month for garden water, 4 cattle panels approx $18.00 each, 10 T post approx $4.00 ea., 10 metal conduit $2.00 ea., 20 PVC approx. $1.75 ea., 10 rebar at approx. $5.00 each. All that seems like a bad investment until I factor in the fact that in the past week I have spent over $2000.00 on lawn mowers, and I dont eat a bit of grass.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I don't track my expenses and have no idea what I spend (and don't want to do it either), but it is quite a lot. However, our garden produces a lot of food for us and I take that into consideration when I am thinking about the expense. Not only does it provide us with food, but a lot of Christmas gifts come from the garden--we give away 200-300 jars of canned goodies every Christmas, and I always joke that I do my Christmas shopping in the garden but really, I am doing the shopping in the pantry, though the canned stuff did originally come from the garden.

The start-up costs are the worst--fencing, boards or concrete blocks for raised beds, soil amendments, tomato cages, trellises, fence posts to stake the cages, etc. Then you have to spend money for a rototiller (either renting one occasionally or buying one), mower, string-trimmer, chainsaw for tree maintenance, hand tools, garden cart, wheelbarrow, etc. Once your fences, beds, arbors, gates, etc. are built, just maintaining the garden isn't nearly as expensive as starting out was.

I still spend a good amount every year on seeds, seed-starting equipment, fertilizer, organic pest control, etc., but it is my hobby and if I wasn't spending money on gardening, I'd just be spending it on whatever hobby I was pursuing. I usually don't have to buy mulch since ranching friends often give us their old spoiled hay and I gather grass clippings and bags of leaves from our own yard.

I spend money wisely though. I don't spend it on silly gimmicky things, like trying to grow upside-down tomatoes or whatever, and I do not spend it on fads, overpriced tools I won't use or unnecessary supplies. I do buy quality tools that will last, and I buy quality irrigation equipment because cheap stuff doesn't last long enough and you spend more money replacing it more often if you use poor-quality stuff. I recycle stuff whenever I can. My picket fence was a hand-me-down from friends who were replacing the picket fence around their yard with metal pipe fencing the cows couldn't destroy. My potting shed was a 10-year-old metal storage shed that Tim didn't need for storage any more after we built the big garage. We just moved it, half-rebuilt it, put windows in it, painted it, etc. and I had a "new" potting shed for a pretty small amount of money. When the old stock tank that used to be a water garden rusted through the bottom and wouldn't hold water, we filled it with soilless mix and turned it into a big container. We recycle stuff into the garden all the time. When the old wheelbarrow rusted through the bottom and developed holes, we filled it with soil and I grow herbs and lettuce in it. Because it sits well above the grade level, it has excellent drainage and the rabbits can't reach the lettuce.

I think about what I am not spending when we are in the grocery store and hardly buy any vegetables at all, and at some times of the year, we don't even have to buy fruit. This is especially true if we are in Whole Foods or Central Market and looking at the prices of Organically Grown produce. That's one advantage people don't think of....if you aren't having to buy the more expensive organically grown produce because you're growing your own, you save a lot of money.

I think about the money I am not spending because I am too busy gardening. When the garden is keeping me busy, I am not going....on vacation, to the movies, to the mall, to amusement parks or casinos or rodeos or sports events or whatever.

For us, the garden is just a part of our life---like our grocery buying or lawn mowing or whatever. We factor it into our plans and budget for it informally in our heads. I've never sat down and written out a budget and never will, but I am pretty thrifty in general and I never spend money on the garden that we cannot afford to spend.

One reason I raise my own seedlings is that you can save so much money doing that. I'd never walk into a store and buy seedlings that I can raise myself. That doesn't mean I don't buy some here and there, because I do. But I probably raise 98% of what we plant from seed, so the few plants we do purchase, like the early tomato plants in February, are a fairly minor expense.

Seeds can be expensive, but one packet of tomato seeds can last me 5 to 7 years because I only use a few seeds from the packet each year, and that's true of a lot of other stuff as well.

A person can spend a lot on a garden, but a person also can spend a relatively small amount compared to what they get from the garden. If you're a hard-core gardener, it saves you money in lots of ways too. If you're successful at raising food, herbs and flowers, you're spending less at the grocery store. I love cut flowers in vases in the house, for example, but I don't buy them....I grow them myself. I don't spend money on a gym membership because my workout is "the garden workout" and I don't need a shrink because just being out in the garden helps me keep my sanity. Well, at least most of the time.

When I worked full time and had a small child in day-care and school, I spent a lot more on the garden (per square foot) than I do now because I was willing to pay for convenience of buying transplants instead of growing my own. It was a lot easier to just go to Calloway's Nursery in Fort Worth and buy transplants of annual flowers for color, and I had a semi-shady yard with tons of beds that needed to be brightened up with blooming annuals and perennials. I usually bought veggie transplants because my tiny garden didn't have room for many, so it wasn't worth my while to raise transplants inside, although eventually I did start raising tomato and pepper transplants because I wanted heirloom varieties you couldn't find in stores as transplants.

There are some things I just won't buy in stores anyway, ,so I'd better raise them myself. You know, I can buy a packet of so-called "fresh" basil for $3.00 at the grocery store and it will have 3 or 4 little sprigs, or I can buy a packet of seed for $2.00 or $3.00 and raise our own basil, and have an endless supply of it for several years, all from one packet of seed. So, I never buy basil at the store. It isn't fresh anyway and it is overpriced. If we don't have basil in the garden or in a container (and right now I have both), I'll just cook with dried basil. Grocery store tomatoes are something else I almost never buy, because their flavor and texture is so poor they aren't worth eating. That's one reason I can hundreds of jars of tomato products in good years, and freeze tomatoes for cooking in the winter, and dehydrate hundreds and hundreds of tomatoes--to make up for the fresh tomatoes I won't buy at the grocery store when tomatoes are out-of-season in the garden.

So, when you think about what you spend, consider how it saves you in the long run. There is a learning curve, and the first few years, I know that many new gardeners feel like they are spending more than they want to spend in comparison to the harvest they get, but over time, that situation somewhat corrects itself, at least most years.

Even well-experienced gardeners cannot guarantee their investment in seeds and supplies pays off every year because the weather can destroy one crop or another in the blink of an eye, but.....we all keep on growing those veggies every year any way.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:28PM
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MMMM Central Market! One of my favorite places. Too bad there are none in OKC. I have a niece in Southlake, whenever I go visit I stop in Central Market.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:41PM
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jdlaugh(Zone 6)

Buying dirt and lumber for my raised beds was my biggest expense over the past few years -- maybe $500 total. My garden space is maxed out now, so that's behind me.

I doubt I spend $50 on plants and seeds in a given year. We make our own compost from kitchen and yard waste plus free stall sweepings from a local stable. I also get free wood-chip mulch from the city of Tulsa.

Water is something I haven't tracked. We use drip irrigation and I don't think it's a lot of money, but it's a constant from March to November.

In the end, we may save a little money compared to the cost of buying produce from the store, but the joy of harvesting and eating fresh picked produce from the back yard - that's priceless!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:56PM
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Start up cost are always high, but once things are in place the cost comes way down. Mine could be a lot less than it is, but I like planting new things and buying interesting seeds. I bought a big roll of row cover this year, and a 100 foot roll of greenhouse plastic, but that will last several years. I bought conduit to bend for hoops and a hoop bender, but that too will get long term usage. I don't have other expensive hobbies, and this one even provides a little food, so I don't worry about what it costs.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 5:39PM
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This yr we began market gardening, but prior I always used my grocery budget to fund my vegetable garden. I figure I am growing produce for my family to eat & the garden should not cost me any extra than I would have spent. It also allowed me not to let my garden get too expensive. This yr my garden paid for itself from what we sold at market & to the neighbors. It also provided plenty of produce for us & the goats & chickens.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 7:51PM
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I am trying to get to the point where I can start everything from seed and have it survive. LOL. It seems I had one good year, the first year I ever gardened, that went very well, then we had drought ever since. Then deciding on a garden design and sticking with it, LOL

The satisfaction of being able to grow something is so nice, it is so worth whatever it cost, but I was just wondering what every spent on average.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 7:43AM
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i would hate to think what i spend on plants and mulch. my water bill this summer was $150. i had a large bill from lowe's for mulch and got wise and went to a gravel pit (whatever they are called) and bought some bark mulch for $80. Saved on the $200 lowe's bill. i don't buy many plants now that i have all that i need, but i did buy 7 iris bulbs for $50, one of those was free. boy are they expensive but they were so pretty. and i bought 3 blue tall phlox.

paid another $50 for a gallon of concentrated sea tea. trying to find out more about it and will have to call the company who sent it to me.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 8:00AM
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I would like to keep track better but I just spend my leftover money on gardening. I dont have any other hobbies really so I probably average 50. per month. Once I get a good set up of garden tools and seeds it will go way down.
I am so thankful I do not have to pay for water. Out here that could easily run over 100. per month.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:58AM
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This is sorta on a side note, but I picked up 2 55gal. plastic barrels at the oil change shop. I plan on cleaning them and using them for planters. They are not pretty but free in my kind of price. They had windshield washer in them so I will need to clean them well.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 2:40PM
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I never have kept track of what I spend, but I know that I could buy the produce cheaper at the farmers market and certainly at walmart. That is not why I garden--I don't even garden because the food is better for you. I garden because I love to grow things and see them grow--I love to "play" in the soil. Some people spend time on other recreational pursuits--I spend mine in the garden, because that is what relaxes and refreshes me. If I kept track of what I spend, I may feel that I spend to much and have to quit. :-)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 5:45PM
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I keep track of what I spend, by putting the receipt in a box. LOL... that is how far it goes.

But the rewards are HUGE!

I love puttering around in my yard/garden. I don't have a garden per say, as my veggies grow amongst my flowers, and vice a versa.

If I didn't have gardening, and bicycling I think I would go stark raving mad, or, with other words I would go crazy.

I cherish my time spend outdoors. The only problem I have is deciding weather to ride, or do yard work. They pull equally.

Maybe this winter, when I have nothing else to do, I will enter my expenses... which is the plan anyway. I will find out more then.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:01AM
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I garden mostly as a hobby. I also consider being thrifty and finding creative ways to save $ a hobby. Since I am a working Mom sometimes I have to just bite the bullet and pay for convience, but I like to plan ahead to save when I can.

I tend to buy the essentials like fertilizers and mulch out of the grocery budget. Then I buy the non essentials such as, fancy seeds or high quality tools (my old cheap ones are not quite ready for trash) from my weekly "mad" money.

Since our garden was already established we didnt have start up cost this year. The spring months were the most expensive, probably $40-$65 per mo in Mar, Apr and May. But only $20 to $30 a month since then. That does not include water. We take that as a home expense since we are in town and our home is not on an acreage.

The expense is worth it even if we never got to eat anything, I love my garden!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:57AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I probably spent more money per square foot when we lived in Fort Worth with a largely shaded yard and many, many flower beds under the trees that needed color from annuals and perennials to brighten up the landscape. I worked full-time then, had a small child, and also had more disposable income since we then were a two-income family. I raised very little from seed--almost no flowers from seed except zinnias and celosias, and even most of my tomato plants were from purchased plants, at least until I started growing heirloom types in the mid-1990s and then I had to start growing my own from seed because back then it was rare to see an heirloom type in the nurseries and garden centers. I spent far too much money at Calloway's Nursery every spring buying many flats of bedding plants. (Is it my fault that a Calloway's Nursery sat right between my employer's facilities and our home? How could I drive by every day without stopping in and buying something occasionally?)

I consider every penny spent on the garden to be money well-spent. Partly that is because my garden is large and produces tons of produce every year, but also because I enjoy the work involved in gardening and I'd do it anyway even if all I grew was ornamental plants.

One reason I kept enlarging the garden every year and growing more and more vegetables, fruits and herbs is because organically-grown produce is so expensive. A couple of years ago, our row of sugar snap peas produced around 35 lbs. of sugar snaps. We ate them constantly, and put a huge amount in the freezer that we then continued to eat for most of the next year. At that time, a 10-oz. package of organic sugar snap peas was going for either $3.79 or 3.89 a package at the Wal-mart closest to us. I never would have bought 35 lbs. of sugar snaps at the grocery store at those prices.

I could garden more cheaply than I do now simply by growing a lot fewer varieties--like, for example, growing 8 or 10 different tomato varieties instead of 70-90 different varieties. Or by growing a couple of bean varieties instead of a dozen or two. I love the diversity, though, of having many kinds because of their different flavors and, especially, many colors of produce. When I am picking bush snap beans, for instance, and look down at my bucket and there are bean pods in shades of green, yellow, pink, purple and red as well as green or yellow streaked with red or purple, that gives me a joy I just don't get from picking only green bean pods. I also love freaking out our friends by growing stuff that is the "wrong" color like red or yellow carrots, purple broccoli or blue potatoes.

My garden is not, and never has been, about money. There are too many intangibles that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

The expense of watering in summer is the most aggravating part of gardening for me, but we just always plan for the water bill to be higher in July and August than it is the rest of the year in the same way that our electric bill is higher in summer than it is the rest of the year.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:24AM
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