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What’s It Worth?

March 4th, 2009

What’s your garden worth to you? Roger over at Kitchen Gardeners International wrote a great article yesterday about how much money they saved last year by growing some of their own food. How much was his garden worth last year? $2149.15
I must admit, I didn’t harvest quite as much as I had hoped and I didn’t keep track of all of my harvests. I did weigh most of my tomato harvests and they totaled 105 pounds. Which would have cost me $415 at the grocery store. I also harvested a lot of broccoli in the spring and a ton of lettuce all season long along with some beets, carrots, potatoes, eggplants, and a few other things. I’m going to guess that I probably saved around $750 in grocery costs.
If I count the berries that we foraged for that would add about $300 to my total sending up over $1,000. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention the 116 lbs of organic pears we got for free from my mom. That would probably add in another couple hundred dollars as well putting me close to the $1300 mark.
I did however spend some money getting my gardens ready in the spring, since we added 5 raised beds and had to buy some compost and other supplies, I probably spent about $300 getting my garden ready in the spring. I also spent about $75 on seeds and another $75 on plants, bushes and trees (these will more than pay for themselves in a few years with the fruit they produce).
I also have add that gardening is good exercise so it saves me on a gym membership. Not to mention the time I’m spending getting my exercise is also improving my health by producing healthy vegetables. Considering one of my watering cans weighs 25 pounds when full and I carry 2 of them around all the time watering. If I look at my water barrel chart I carried 11,625 pounds of water around my gardens this past summer, that makes for some big biceps.
I’m sure that this year I’m going to be saving even more since I’m expanding my garden area and I’m going to be able to grow for 3 seasons. I’m excited to be tracking all of my harvests on my new Garden Harvest Spreadsheet. I’m really looking forward to adding a good number to the Garden Harvest Challenge over at Freedom Gardens.

So what about you, what is your garden worth to you? If you didn’t garden last year are you considering starting this year to save money?

14 Comments to “What’s It Worth?”
  1. Daphne on March 4, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Yesterday I posted a little about the worth of my garden too. But of course my garden really isn’t just about money, though I’m keeping track this year of the monetary pluses and minuses. My garden is happiness. My garden is my calm when life is hectic. My garden makes me eat better when it is producing.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. The Worth of a Garden and a Bit of a Blizzard

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  2. Mangochild on March 4, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Whoa! I’m impressed, both at what you have produced and how much it is really worth all told. My small plot area is so, well, small!
    As you said (and Daphne too) there is another worth to a garden – the mental satisfaction and joy. It really was my stability and my happiness last summer and fall, seeing it grow and knowing the care I gave to the living things made a difference. Kind of focusing outside myself if that makes sense. I don’t think I can even dream of having anything as productive as you and some of the others I see, but just the garden itself is enough, without anything else at this point.

    Mangochild’s last blog post.. Independence Days Challenge: Week 4

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  3. Judy on March 4, 2009 at 8:11 am

    I wish that I would have weighed all the produce that I collected from my garden last year. It was my first year with such a large garden and so many raised beds. I’ve gardened with a couple of raised beds for several years, mainly for a hobby and just a small harvest. But, since last year, my goals have changed and I want to be able to produce most all of my produce and veggies myself.

    I downloaded your spreadsheet and I can’t wait to use it for keeping a running total of my harvests this year :-) Thanks!

    Judy’s last blog post.. What A Day, Mar 3, 2009

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  4. Chicago Mike on March 4, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I honestly have a pretty limited idea of what my Garden is worth financially, and I am curious enough that I am getting a scale and tracking this year, but for me it has little to do with money, and only some to do with health, and a little to do with the environment, and a little about sustainability.

    It has a lot to do with the fact that its something my wife and kids and I can enjoy and do together. An enjoyable group accomplishment that incorporates all the above.

    It helps me connect with others (like this site!) and with coworkers. I have been very open at work about my obsess…I mean “hobby” and have found that there are a lot of “secret” gardeners.

    It gives us something to think about and look forward too in the spring.

    Thats what its worth to me.


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  5. Teri on March 4, 2009 at 10:46 am

    To me it was priceless. I don’t know how much it saved me, but being able to go out to the garden and pick what I needed, rather than running to the store (16 miles round trip at $4.20 gal) saved me tons of money. I canned and froze what we didn’t eat fresh. I made red salsa, green salsa, spaghetti sauce, seasoned canned tomatoes, and raspberry liquor which I used for Christmas presents. I also canned green beans, froze berries, pesto, prunes and dried a bunch of stuff too. Wow, that looks like a lot now that I type it out! I plan to fill every canning jar in the house again this year. I look forward to using your spreadsheet to get a better handle on what I actually harvest.

    Teri’s last blog post.. 62/365

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  6. kristin on March 4, 2009 at 11:14 am

    We argue about this very question every year. I’ve never weighed our stuff and tried to figure out, but it is easily thousands of dollars. Not even counting the gas saved by not having to go to the store every week (a 50-mile roundtrip) and the worth of the stuff I make from the garden (like jam–blackberry jam with only berries and sugar is like six bucks for less than a half-pint jar). Maybe this year I’ll do better keeping track of what I pull out of the garden.

    Or maybe I’ll just eat it all and totally forget about tracking it. Probably that.

    kristin’s last blog post.. Dog Crazy

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  7. lee on March 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I never weighed anything I grow. I grow the vegetables in 14 – 24 inch pots. I believe there are 13 of them, and I might add a couple more pots this year. Even though the growing season is long here in southern California, I don’t think they give me more than a couple hundred dollars worth of vegetables, but some of those vegetables are hard to get in the market so they are priceless. :)

    I have a lot of fruit trees in the backyard and the side yard and almost all of them are heavy bearers. I’m sure i get a few thousand dollars worth of fruits and berries. We are only 3 in the house and we can’t eat them all, so we give them away to friends.

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  8. Em on March 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Wasn’t that a fantastic article! I did a very quick calc yesterday and estimate we save about $30 a week in purchased veges – $1560 – but if it were calculated as organic it would be worth far more here. And that doesn’t include preserved produce used in cooking, like canned tomatoes, dried herbs, preserved olives. We buy some seedlings, but not many, on the cost side.

    I’m sure we see the doctor less; we are hardly ever sick these days, but only a few years ago seemed to be often catching viruses and colds… and I know for sure my head and my heart are happier when I’m in the garden :)

    But if you costed my time out it wouldn’t be worth it from a purely economic perspective; as our budget becomes tighter and tighter I know that I’ll have to return to paid work and I’m fairly sure that there will not be much time left in our days for growing food. I’m trying to set up watering systems and plant more fruit trees now, so that we can keep as much garden as possible when the inevitable return-to-paid-work comes.

    Em’s last blog post.. bloglines pick of the day

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  9. Dan on March 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    When I first started my veggie garden I didn’t even think of using it to reduce food costs. I just thought of how good veggies out of the garden used to taste when I was a kid and that it is a good way to spend free time.

    After the food prices started to rise last summer it became evident that it is a food cost saver once it is in operation. This year I want to preserve and store alot more of the produce. Last year alot went to waste if it was not consumed quickly. I am also toying with the idea of building a small root cellar in the basement with an in & out air pipe to the outside. I am also thinking of adapting a spread sheet to track the weight of each vegetable variety but after not keeping up the the weighing last year I am not sure if it will happen.

    Dan’s last blog post.. Seedling & Outdoor Garden Update

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  10. Sinfonian on March 4, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    That’s amazing, your totals show how great much you can save. I definitely need to weigh my produce this year. With your money I could have paid for my garden construction in my first year. Wow, that’s cool! Thanks for sharing.

    Sinfonian’s last blog post.. March 4, 2009

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  11. Allie on March 5, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I have decided that berries are where it’s at with gardening for us. That’s what I spend the most on at the farm market. My CSA is so affordable and efficient, but doesn’t include berries. And they are so much better fresh picked anyway.

    Allie’s last blog post.. An Interview with Douglas Farquhar from ReJAVAnate

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  12. warren on March 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    We never keep track of the savings part of it but we absolutely do consider the exercise as a benefit…that’s one that lots of people forget!

    warren’s last blog post.. Urban Assault Salad

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  13. sarah on March 6, 2009 at 12:18 am

    What a great read! Thank you for sharing!

    sarah’s last blog post.. M’s Pancakes

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  14. Paul U on March 8, 2009 at 12:48 am

    I say that it is priceless.

    Paul U’s last blog post.. How to choose an affiliate program for your site?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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