Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Cost of Gardening (January)

I have always loved going over to Get Rich Slowly every year to see how their garden is doing, how much they’ve spent on the garden and how muchthey’ve harvested.  I have decided that seeing as one of our goals this year is to grow enough of our favorite veggies to last us throughout the fall, winter and spring, I should probably know how much we are spending on the garden as well as how much we harvest to determine whether or not it is “worth it.”  We will not be computing how much time we put into the garden.  To me, putting in time is a given, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this year’s garden a success! 

A couple of weeks ago, Todd and I started purchasing items for the garden.  The first purchase is not something we are going to count in the numbers for the cost of owning a garden.  We will use this in many other ways around the yard and house. It is the Dump Cart.

I had been promising Todd a new wheelbarrow for 2 years now.  Ours is old, rickety, and when you try to move anything of weight, the handlebars buckle and the whole load goes everywhere.  I have been promising him a new wheelbarrow with two wheels up front because he has carpal tunnel, and the standard wheelbarrow is hard on his hands.

The Dump Cart is so much better! It has a weight capacity of 1200 lbs, and it is so easy to use, even I can pull gravel, dirt or mulch around the yard with ease!  I cant wait to get it out there to weed the beds in the spring!!  The price: $129.00+ tax at Lowe’s.  Again, we are not counting this, but it may come in handy when we are spreading chicken droppings or even manure in the fall.

Todd found these two tools for the garden.  They were $2.99 each, but I had a 15% off coupon on our whole purchase, making each of these $2.54/each.  Apparently, the ones I bought (really inexpensively) last year were children’s tools!  No wonder they bent when I tried to dig in the soil!

Tools: $5.08

I purchased two packets of seeds with a friend from Gurney’s.   They are expensive, but I have found the seeds to be very high quality.  From Gurney’s, I got a packet of spinach seeds as well as yard long green beans!  I have been enjoying the book entitled Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell from the library.  The book provides you varieties of vegetables that grow easily upward instead of in rows in the garden.  The book recommends the yard long green beans so I wanted to try them out.

Seeds from Gurney’s:  6.98

Todd and I also went to WalMart and picked up a lot of seeds!  We got:

  •  Spaghetti Squash - 1
  • Pie Pumpkin - 1
  • Hot Peppers - 2
  • Onions - 3
  • Snow Peas - 4
  • Cucumbers - 3
  • Brussel Sprouts - 1
  • Spinach - 1
  • Herbs - 1 of each (Cilantro, Rosemary, Oregano & Dill)

Seeds from WalMart: $23.23

Total Spent on the Garden (January): $35.29

 Because we are going to rent a tiller to make a new spot for the garden this year with better sunlight and soil, the garden is not going to be “cheap.”  We will most likely put up a fence to keep the deer (and crazy puppy) out. Not to mention making trellis’ and vertical skyscraper poles to grow the vegetables vertically.  And last, but not least, I like to purchase my tomato plants as seedlings in May.  I will most likely be getting a flat or two in the upcoming months.

I have to keep in mind that some of the expense is because we are pretty much starting “fresh” (pun intended) this year.  In upcoming years, there will be less of the startup costs to have a beautiful garden. 

I am getting really excited to get my hands dirty.  Are you?

This post is linked up with Homestead Revival's Barn Hop!


  1. I bought my "dump cart" on your FB reccomendation and I love it! We use ours for lots of things too. My mom even likes to use it for carrying the clothes basket in from the clothes line, lol. We can hook it up to our little tractor too and pick up branches, moss and other yard waste. I have a small container garden this year. I tried to do too much last year and got discouraged with the horrible turnout, so this year I am starting over. But I have a good compost system and left over good soil so that helps.

  2. I'm glad you like it! :-) We have already used ours to bring in firewood into the house. You may be interested in the book I referenced in the post entitled Vertical Gardening by Derek Fell. It is pretty in-depth. When we were at WalMart picking up seeds, I couldnt believe how many vegetables had the pot on the package, meaning they can be grown in planters! Good luck,and keep us posted on how it's going!

  3. I don't know if I'm quite ready yet. It seems like we just pulled up last year's garden! I have often wondered if it is all worth it moneywise, but the work it provides for the children is good. And the fresh veggies and fruits really really taste good too!

  4. If you only measure the worth of something in the monetary gain, than where is the worth in getting married or having a child? The worth of gardening goes way beyond whether or not you saved money at the grocery store, #1 being that you are eating fresh and organic, #2 being you are getting exercise, #3 that you are receiving emotional benefits, etc.
    If you are seriously concerned about how much the garden costs, shop at yard sales and flea markets for your tools, not WalMart, go in with friends to buy your seeds in bulk (then learn to save your seeds for future gardens), and use what you already own to construct your trellises, raised beds, etc. You will be amazed at what your creative mind can come up with.
    I hope you find that gardening is worth it, no matter the dollar figure, and don't give up.

  5. I love the idea of keeping track of the costs. We've been growing our own vegetables for quite a while now but never computed the total cost. You're right that the first year is the most expensive, but now that we own a tiller, wheel barrow, irrigation system, and compost system and get manure free from local horse barns, our annual expenses include gas for the tiller, water, and seeds. However, we now make money off the tiller by tilling for others and we sell off our extra worms from our composting. It won't be long before you're expenses turn into income! I'm looking forward to watching your garden grow!

  6. I love that dump cart, I may have to check one of those out. I wanted you all to know that I am having a FREE GIVE AWAY:

  7. Carol, I completely agree! I love to garden, so it doesnt matter how much we produce. I am just curious to see how much goes into it, especially seeing as it is the first year. Thank you for the comment (and great ideas!)

    Betty - what wonderful ideas! There is a gentleman in our area that tills gardens, but of course the signs arent out yet for me to get his number! We want to get a head start on the tilling to get things ready before we go on a long vacation the first week of May. You make alot of great points. Though I would enjoy making an income from the garden, we mainly want to preserve to last us throughout the fall, winter and spring this year.

    Clint - we found our dump cart at Lowe's. It has already been put to good use with firewood! :-)

  8. I buy most of my seeds in the fall when they are on clearance. Ace Hardware often marks seeds down to 10 cents a packet! It really helps keeps the cost down.

    Look for gardening tools at yard sales too, and put a want ad on craigslist and freecycle - you never know!

    Putting things by requires freezer containers, canning jars, etc. I get most of mine at thrift stores or yard sales and it saves a lot over retail.

    Happy saving,
    -Laura at TenThingsFarm

  9. Great post! That cart is awesome!!! I am always looking for ways to be more frugal but I don't garden to save money. I think once I have my garden finished it will be more cost productive. Seeds cost virtually nothing compared to the return. I buy seedlings for tomatoes and peppers. I will try to grow my own this year.