05 March 2011

Cost of gardening

Okay, I decided to write this post because in the last 24 hours I have had several people comment about how expensive gardening is.  If it had only been one person to say this to me, I would have ignored it...but three people in a 24 hour time period?  That's a bit much.

Let me explain something - if you know what you are doing, gardening can be low cost. 

I started reading and researching Urban Homesteading late last summer - too late to start a garden.  The more I read, the more sense it made to me to have a garden in our backyard for a number of reasons.  Now at first, I also thought that gardening would take a huge investment, but the more I researched the subject, the more I realized that I could do it for under $50.

The first thing you need for a garden is the space to plant in.  Our backyard is average sized, but large enough to plant a garden for our family's needs - so I already had the space necessary.

Second thing you need is tools.  I found a shovel for $5 at a rummage sale, and Sean found gardening gloves and hand tools on sale for $1 each last fall.  Late fall is the best time to buy gardening supplies because they are dirt cheap - all the store wants to do is move the merchandise so they have room for other items.

I found about 75% of my seeds on sale last fall for 10 cents a packet.  Over the winter, I blogged about gardening and talked about it with friends and neighbors, and this lead to me being given several more packets of seed for nothing.  By the time February rolled around, I only needed eight more types of seed - which I ended up paying full price for.  But full price for most of the seeds I bought turned out to be only $1.99 per packet - not a bad price.

I was resigned to the idea that I was going to have to dig my garden out with a shovel, because paying to rent a rototiller was completely out of the question.  But then a neighbor offered to let me use her rototiller in return for some free babysitting.  SCORE!

So now I find that I have paid a grand total of $37 on my garden.  According to my research, I can get as much as 700 lbs of produce from the small amount of land I have, if I plant wisely.  I won't even be using all of my seeds, and next spring most of the extra leftover seeds will still be viable - so next year I won't have to buy seeds at all if I don't want to.

With the right research and knowledge, a good food-producing garden can be planted very cheaply - and it's worth it when you consider how much food you will be growing.  I know that two of the people who told me that gardening was "too expensive" have space and time to plant this spring - and I strongly encourage it!  Think about planting everything you need to make your own homemade spaghetti sauce - tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, basil, etc.  It doesn't cost much to start up.  Making the sauce is actually pretty simple, if you can the sauce it will last for a year.  Plus, you will know exactly what is in your sauce because YOU made it - no preservatives, no additives, just good wholesome food.

And if you don't have space?  Still consider working towards a garden.  Most towns have a community garden where you can plant if you live in an apartment without a yard.  I have a neighbor who plants her garden in another neighbor's yard because her landlord won't let her plant on her property...she splits the produce with the neighbor whose yard she uses and they all benefit.

For those who are interested in starting out, I STRONGLY recommend the book "The Backyard Homestead" by Carleen Madigan.  This gives you the basics. 


Grandma Debbie said...

Hope you find this activity to your liking...Wish I had more time to do some of this as well.

patricialynn said...

I've never actually planted a food garden before, but I'm excited about the concept.

I've always loved having houseplants, and most of them thrive under my care. I've planted flowers outdoors before and those have come up nicely. And the kids seem truly excited about the idea - I'm thinking if the weather is decent, this will make a good project to tackle during spring break.

Grandma Debbie said...

have never planted before Memorial Day due to the chance of a freeze remaining until at least then around here.