Can a Small Garden Really Save You Money?

By | June 12, 2015

Hi Everyone!

I hope this email finds you well. It’s going up to 92 degrees here today so I was up early to water and work on “the small garden experiment,” as B and I call it. I’ve always wanted to plant a garden. The idea sounds wonderful doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to go out and literally pick vegetables the day you eat them? It’s just one of those things that I think would make me feel rich. But a lack of green thumb always stopped me. Plus I didn’t think I had the time or the space. On the other hand, I’m tired of paying ridiculous prices for vegetables and wondered if planting a garden could make me feel rich while saving us a little money.  Have you ever thought that? What if you don’t have space for a garden? Here’s what I had been doing:

  1. Shopping at the local supermarket and leaving empty handed because I refused (REFUSED I tell you!) to buy a tiny bunch or parsley for $2.69 or two peppers for $4.50.
  2. Buying from a farmer’s market five miles from our house where fruit and vegetable prices are reasonable (99 cents for large bunch of parsley and 99 cents a pound for peppers). Great, but the quality wasn’t as good and I had to use everything within two days which meant multiple trips per week so what I saved on cost I spent in gas. (I guess I could have biked there, but … no).
  3. Buying from a wholesale farmer’s market that was open to the public. The prices were excellent, the quality was good, but we’d need a restaurant refrigerator to store it all. This would probably work for larger families, but it’s just the two of us.
  4. Buying a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, where once a week we received six to eight different vegetables from a local organic farmer. The cost was $350 for the season which ran from May through October. It was supposed to be enough to feed two people who loved vegetables or four people who didn’t eat as much.

We made a pact to eat whatever it was we received and not buy any additional vegetables during the season except for staples like potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots. We thought if we could do that we’d be saving hundreds of dollars in food that year. Well, for whatever reason last year, all we basically received were potatoes, carrots, garlic, and onions. No beans, greens, roots, and herbs we’d been hoping for. We considered trying another CSA this year but the price was almost double. Which is how we ended up where we are today – with our garden experiment.

In March we spent just about $130 to make this work. First I went hunting for discount gift cards (I use Giftcards.com and Giftcardzen.com) to Home Depot. I purchased cards valued at $150 for $127.38 and off we went. We figured if it cost more than $150 we’d just eat it (ha- just caught the pun). We purchased a raised garden that was on sale, all of the veggies and herbs we wanted that were at the early season priced of 5 for $10, and soil, which we lucked out and got for ½ off because a number of bags were open and although they were full, couldn’t be sold at full price. (Now we always look for the open bags). Then we got to planting. In lieu of flowers for many of our pots we planted herbs. What did we plant?

Basil (regular and Thai)
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Cabbage
Cilantro
Chives
Cucumbers
Eggplant
Garlic
Lettuce (three types)
Mint
Oregano
Parsley
Rosemary
Sage
Spinach
Thyme
Tomatoes
Zucchini (which is overtaking the garden)
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The garden is coming along nicely and is not as much work as I thought it would be (maybe because B likes playing with it :)). It started out as a 4×8, but it was expanded to 8×8 because the zucchini is taking over.  It definitely makes me feel rich looking at our small garden of soon to be bounty. I can also say that having this goes along with my frugal nature because I haven’t had to buy any fresh herbs since March.

I’m feeling confident that we’ll save at least what we spent on the garden. We’re enjoying the lettuces now. Once we can harvest more things I can really start to compare. One thing is for sure. We are bound to have TON of zucchini. Make reservations now to get yours. 🙂

If you don’t have space for a garden you could still save some money if you have a window facing south. Pot some herbs and then pick and enjoy all year. Last winter I had success with basil, rosemary, and oregano, which gave me the confidence to go bigger…and outside. I use fresh basil a lot, so if nothing else, I know I saved on that last winter.

How do you save money on vegetable? Do you have a garden? If so, why? Relaxation/Therapy? Like knowing where your veggies are coming from? It saves money? Does $130 sound like a reasonable price? It feels like we got a good deal, but honestly we have no idea! Let me know by replying to this email.

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