Monday, October 15, 2012

The Cost of Gardening Final Report for 2012

Here in NorthEast Ohio, the 2012 garden season has come to an end.  We have had frost a couple of times this week, and there is nothing producing in the garden.

I have kept up better with the garden this year more than I have ever kept up with any garden I have had.  There were still a lot of weeds, mind you, but a couple times a week, I could be found outside picking zukes, cukes, beans and maters.  This year, hubby was supposed to help with the garden but that did not happen.  I feel the garden would have done better if I would have had help.  The truth of the matter is, by mid-August, I am pretty much tired of tending the garden and I let it go wild.   

My goal this year was to keep track of what we spent on starting a new garden in a new location. The last I posted about how much our garden cost this year was back in May.  In June, we picked up a couple of packs of bamboo sticks to tie up the tomatoes, so we had an extra cost of $4.19.  That being said, this year, we spent a total of $185.18 on the garden.  I didn’t keep track of how many pounds of produce we ate and put away, but we got a decent amount of produce, and it was all organic!  That being said, I cannot tell you whether or not it was “worth it” and to be honest, I don’t care.  I love being able to go outside and pick a tomato to eat with our burgers for dinner.  I enjoyed picking grape tomatoes and eating them as snacks throughout the day or putting them on our salads at dinner.  

The Big Expenses

The two biggest expenses for the garden this year were the straw bales and the super-soil we put on the ground to help the garden to flourish.

We were trying out the straw bale method of gardening, but it was a horrible fail.  That was a waste of $60 in straw bales, in my opinions.  However, I am using the straw bales that didn’t compost over the summer in a new project for next year: an edible landscape.  I am going to be planting vegetables in the flower bed in front of the house to expand how much we produce.  I am putting what is left of the straw bales in front of the house along with some leaves when they begin to fall to compost over the fall and winter months and we will till it into the soil when spring rolls around.

The super soil was so that our plants had the nutrients they needed to start in the new plot where the garden sat this year.  That was a $44 expense, but I think it was necessary.  Next year, we wont have that expense. 

So as you can see, $104 out of the $185.15 were expenses that we shouldnt have again next year.

What We Harvested

These are some of the first veggies we picked from the garden this year.


We got a lot of grape tomatoes, a few early girl tomatoes, and several dozen beefstake tomatoes from the garden.  My hopes with the beefstake were to have enough to can enough spaghetti sauce to use throughout the next 3 seasons.  That didn’t happen.  Next year, we will grow only grape, early girls and roma tomatoes. 



We had a bumper crop of zucchini this year!  We have a lot of produce in the freezer to be used throughout the fall and winter months, and we ate a lot of fresh zucchini too.  I always purchase my zukes as seedlings from a nursery.  Next year, I will plant them by seed. 


Summer Squash:

I planted a whole packet of summer squash in the ground by seed for the first time to see how they would produce.  Out of the whole packet, we only got 3 plants, but they produced well!  We have a lot of summer squash mixed with zucchini diced up and in the freezer to eat throughout the winter.  Also, because we are eating gluten/dairy/sugar-free, hubby found a recipe to make mock hash browns out of summer squash.  They were delish, and we will be growing a lot more next year!



We planted 3 packets of cucumber seeds in the straw bales and they are the only plant that took off!  It took several months, but they ended up doing really well.  My husband loves cukes, so he ate a lot of them and we canned 3 large jars (the jars that bulk pickles come in) of pickles from freakishly large cukes that grew.  Next year, we will be planting triple the amount of cukes and plant them in the ground instead of in the straw bales.

Picture on the far right is store-bought pickles.  The three on the left are homemade.
You can see how large our cukes got in the first jar on the left!!

Spaghetti Squash:

Todd and I eat spaghetti squash quite a bit, especially now that we are not eating any grain.  We planted 2 packets of seeds in the ground this year and they did great until the roots started to rot and the squash got mushy.  We were only able to harvest 4-5 spaghetti squash from the garden, but we were able to buy some for $1/each at a farmer’s market to freezer for future dinners.  The squash that rotted did not get wasted.  The chickens loved them! 

(How do you prevent root rot? Any tips or tricks?)

Green Beans:

I tried a new variety of green beans this year called yard-long green beans.  These were awesome!  They grow on a vine and though they are not truly yard long (they get too seedy when they get that big), they were at least a foot long when they were ready to pick.  Next year, we will be planting many, many more of these yard-long green beans.


I also planted my normal bush green beans as well, that did great.  We will be planting many many more green beans next year by seed and hopefully stay on top of harvesting them before they go to seed.

Snow Peas:

I planted the peas in the straw bales and they fried out in the sun.  I planted some more in another garden we have with some shade and they did well.  Not enough to freeze but we had a meal or two from them.   Next year, we will be planting a lot of snow peas in the garden with shade.



I planted onions by seed this year, and they are doing great!  They are so easy, and the critters cannot get to them.   Next year, I will plant more packets of onions.  We use onions a lot in our meals.


Pie Pumpkins:

Our pie pumpkins did great, but had the same problem as the spaghetti squash with the rotting vine.  We ended up getting 6 pumpkins out of 1 packet of seeds.  We planted them as a snack for the chickens, so I think it was worth it.


It didn’t seem like we had all of these items growing as I was picking them.  No wonder why I got burnt out on gardening! 

Next year, we will tweak where we plant things and increase the amount of seeds that we will plant.  I am (highly) considering starting everything from seed in the ground outside (I don’t have luck starting seeds indoors) to keep the expense of the garden down.

Do you find yourself planning next year’s garden before this year’s garden is complete? How did your garden do this year?

This post is linked up to the Homestead Barn Hop #83 & Women Living Well!


  1. Nice to see a report like this! I have never tracked the cost of my gardens, but I know some years it's upside down. I validate it by all the enjoyment, education, and satisfaction it bought!

    Keep recycling that straw! Even if it doesn't work as originally planned, we find a use for it in the garden, the chicken run, compost pile, etc.

    Yes, every year I am evaluating for next year's garden. Early this summer we had blossom end rot on tomatoes, so I learned about that and how to avoid it next year. We discovered a new pest and how to draw it away from the garden next year. We planted too much of this, not enough of that, so will adjust next year. It's a lifetime learning experience!

    1. That is one thing with the garden - they are never the same from year to year, are they? :-) We cant predict the weather or how anything will do, which is probably some of the fun in it!

  2. Brilliant post! I get a bit tired of it too, usually early - mid September. It's weird, I put all this energy into starting, caring & growing the stuff and then lose energy when it comes to picking it!
    That said, our freezers are groaning under the weight of what we've put by and I won't be buying tinned tomoatoes for another year!
    Janie x

    1. You know, I never thought of it like that (about losing enery when it comes to picking). It is so true! I am glad your freezers are packed full and that is awesome that you dont have to buy tinned tomatoes for another year! That is a goal of ours for next year. Great job on your garden!!

  3. Stopping by from the homestead barn hop. Have you tried growing Amish Paste Tomatoes? I found that they were pretty hardy, produced well and were great for sauce / salsa (not watery at all).
    See what I've been up to at:

    1. You are the second person this year that suggested the Amish Paste Tomato. You know what that means, dont you? I have to try them next year! :-) Thank you...and I look forward to seeing what you have been up to.

  4. Thank you for sharing this! We are still rookie-gardeners (in Michigan) but I love seeing how people in similar-climates are doing!


    31 Days to Living a More Intentional Life

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I feel like I will always be a "rookie." Gardening is not easy! As you know, we have no control over our climate here in the midwest. I look forward to reading your blog. Thank you for commenting.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful garden! Your root rot.. could they be vine borers? We've had a real battle with those!

    1. LouAnne, it very well may be! I will have to look into it. Thank you! :-)

  6. I've tracked the cost effectiveness of the garden got tedious weighing all the pickings...counting the eggs...and calculating the "price" I would have gotten for the compost we produced...but all in all it was a wonderful experience and great to tell the husband that we "made" lots of money that year.

    1. I completely agree with you, City Sister! I have a spreadsheet with the cost of raising the chickens and how much it costs us per dozen of eggs we get from the hens. :-) I love numbers, and I like knowing that what I'm doing has monetary worth to us. It helps to keep me motivated each year.