Personal Finance 

Can You Save Money with a Home Garden?

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Food costs are rising and they’re going to rise more. Agflation, as it is called, isn’t being kind to consumers who are facing lowering wages or even unemployment. Food prices continue to rise and that has consumers scared. Some people are cutting out their weekly restaurant meals in exchange for cooking but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices at the grocery story are rising at a much higher rate than your favorite restaurant. Before you start eating out more in order to address agflation, eating at home is still 66% cheaper than eating out.

If you can’t find a safe haven at the grocery store, where do you go? Some have turned to growing their own food but is it worth the money? Like any hobby, you’ll need to a few seasons of learning how to do it, some money to invest in to supplies, and enough time to tend to the garden.


Others seem to have the same idea as you. Starting in 2009, seed companies have seen a sharp increase in their retail seed sales. In 2010 they reported a 30% increase in sales in just one year and that’s up from a 20% increase the year before.

The Perfect Storm

There is a perfect storm that has brewed making home gardening rise in popularity. First, going green is the 21st century version of modern and progressive living. It has quickly becoming mainstream. Second, part of the green craze is the increased emphasis on health. We no longer want chemicals sprayed all over out food and since we can’t directly control that, some would rather grow their own food. Finally, we want to save money. Those who have suffered since 2008 have learned that tightening their financial belt is a must and they see a garden as a way to cut down on costs.

Is it for You?

You have to look at saving money in a holistic way. It’s not just about limiting the amount of money leaving your wallet, it’s about everything money gives you. In the case of vegetables, your money gives you the power to pay somebody to invest their time in to growing. One article asks three people about their financial return on their garden. One reported a profit of $2,500, another $800, and another lost money but the only person who considered the value of her time was the person who lost money. Are you taking time away from other things you enjoy more in order to save what may only amount to a small amount of money?

If you’re somebody who enjoys gardening activities, it may be worth your time to learn. Start during the off season and put together some projections like  This author did. How big does your garden have to be to turn a profit? Go to an organic food store and write down the price per pound or container for comparison. It may take two or more seasons to get it right but for those who have the time to devote to learning and tending to the garden, the savings could be sizable. For those who are busy career people, it may be best to look for other ways to save. Coupons, maybe?

{ 5 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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5 Responses to “Can You Save Money with a Home Garden?”

  1. Sun says:

    What about the water bill? Farmers pay cents. Residents pay dollars. I am not convinced self gardening is a way to save money. I know my uncle’s water & power bill went up $100 per month after gardening at home. I think we need to add to the equation crops that can grow with little water and/or rotating crops so you don’t have to invest in fertilizer.

    • Glenn Lasher says:

      Using a soaker hose rather than a sprinkler can help save water in the garden. You can also save a bit of water by making sure to enrich the soil with as much organic material as you can get your hands on.

      Of course, your location can play into this also. I live in a city (Schenectady, NY) that does not meter the water.

      • Shirley says:

        You will also find improved productivity and healthier plants by using a soaker hose. We connect two 50 ft soaker hoses together and snake them through the rows close to the plants themselves. Use an easy snap-on/off connector for the garden hose if necessary. Our climate is quite warm so soaking for 3 hours every third day is right for our garden.

  2. Strebkr says:

    I tried it once just to see how it would go. Our company gave everyone 10×10 plots outside. It seemed like a good idea, but in the end it just wasn’t for me.

  3. John Huner says:

    I agree if you look at the dollars spent and charged for your time the way you charge for say doing someone’s taxes for them the financial calculation may not look good.

    There are several reasons a home garden is great for me (and others). First, I eat way more healthily (who knows what value this might have in a lifetime). Two, I actually like working in the garden (I wouldn’t like to do it for free for 40 hours a week but for the few hours it is a net plus not net negative). Whether you like spending this time or not, is probably the biggest determination of economic success with your garden. Three, the food is great (much better than I can buy) – so fresh, available exactly when I need it.

    I don’t think the cash gain/loss is what makes gardens a good value. For small gardens it is likely how much you enjoy the limited work you put in. And also how much the wonderful fresh food is worth to you (both in the great taste and the more healthy diet – it you are like me).

    I have had a small garden for several years and now have a balcony garden (I moved)

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