Summer 2012 Garden recap

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One of the best ways to cut down on food costs while eating healthy is to grow as much of your own food as possible.  This past summer marked our first attempt at growing a balcony garden AND our first opportunity at a community garden.  There were some ups and downs, but overall, it was a very rewarding experience.  Financially, I think we did okay!

Balcony garden costs:

  • $12: 3 bags of dirt
  • $3: plant food

Community garden cost:

  • $40: registration ($20 per plot – we had two plots.  Technically, it only cost us $20 because we found $20 on the ground one day!)
  • free: dirt, containers, and starter plants (2 zucchini, 6 tomato plants, 2 squash plants, herbs)
General costs:
  • $5: 2 tumbler tomato plants
  • $10: herbs, kale, pepper, green onion, lettuce, choy and butter lettuce seedlings
Overall, we spent around $70 in start-up costs.  Some things didn’t work out – the onions never took to the soil and tended to wilt before we could harvest them.  The lettuces were not split adequately and crowded each other, reducing yields.  The kale was an aphid disaster and the squashes fought a constant battle with fungi.  However, we still ended up doing quite well.  Below, I list our harvest, including the approximate store cost.
Total harvest from the balcony garden:
  • 3 bunches watercress (3 x $1.50)
  • 27 tumbler tomatoes (2 boxes x $2.50)
  • 4 bunches thyme (4 x $2.50)
  • 2 bunches oregano (2 x $2.50)
  • 3 beans (this was just sad so I’m going to ignore it…)

Total harvest from the community garden:

  • 150 julliette tomatoes (15 boxes x $3)
  • 42 tomatoes big – Lemon Boy, Mr. Stripey and Oxheart varietals (~14 lbs at $0.79/lb)

Total value: $117

As you can see – we came out ahead!  Woohoo!  And my price estimates are conservative and based on traditional produce.  It does not take into account the fact that our produce is completely pesticide free.  🙂  Considering that, I would argue that we saved even more money!  Admittedly, we do not include the cost of working in the garden each week – watering, planting and weeding, for example.  However, it was enjoyable work for us and no less effort than going to the store and waiting in line to purchase less-than-fresh produce.

We are definitely happy with our results and we will be planting again next year  🙂

How did your 2012 garden turn out?

This post also appear on Life as Mom’s Frugal Friay.

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  1. Pauline says:

    yay for found money and a good harvest! Do you know why the beans didn’t work? Climate maybe? Do you pay for water at the community garden? I only grew tomatoes on my window, but am starting a garden next month!

    • CF says:

      My first batch of beans failed due to some bad soil. The second batch produced a handful of beans, but by then, it was late in the season so we didn’t get a big crop 🙁

    • CF says:

      And I don’t pay for water at the community garden, I believe the city takes care of that for us. 🙂

  2. Catherine says:

    because I had the baby this summer, I didn’t have time to garden really. I always try and grow herbs I use frequently though and was pretty successful. We’re putting in a decent size veggie garden next year and I’m so excited!

  3. Haha, my spouse jokes that we have $50 parsley.
    Well done, especially with keeping track of the costs. I do have a question, which is only partially relevant. Would you have purchased the fresh herbs if you were not growing them? I’m not saying that you are overvaluing them, but they are providing a higher food quality than you would buy for yourselves (I assume, I very rarely buy the fresh herbs).
    This year my balcony gardening may have come closer to even than last year or the year before (buying pots and failing at growing!).

    • CF says:

      Depends on the herbs. I buy mint, cilantro, parsley and Thai basil fresh quite frequently. They’re used often in Asian cooking.

      But I don’t buy oregano or thyme fresh usually, which are two of the herbs I grew. It was nice having them fresh because they are great additions to sauces and meats!

  4. Sounds like you got a good haul! I didn’t garden this year, but next year I plan on conning my fiancé into building some raised beds. Hopefully I’ll be able to weigh in on this discussion by this time next year.

  5. I love home grown produce! Even though you had a few bug issues you walked away with nice stuff. I’m sure it tastes alot better then the stuff at the grocery store.

    • CF says:

      The tomatoes were definitely tasty! The oxheart varietals kind of weirded me out – when you slice through them crosswise, there are a lot of nodular segments that vaguely reminded me of brains…

  6. Wow I don’t think I’ve ever seen gardening broken down by price like that. Awesome!

  7. Jason says:

    Overall, I’d definitely say you came out ahead and probably even learned some things in the process! We tried to do container gardening again this year and it was a failure. We have these horned worm things that we just couldn’t get rid of and it became extremely annoying!

  8. Earlier this year we grew parsley, basil, chocolate mint, oregano – some of the typical herbs (few others I can’t remember). We were really limited in space so had to grow on a balcony but it worked out great. We also tried to grow grapes in huge pots and that effort failed beyond description. If those grapes could speak they would probably condemn us to eternity of burning flames. haha!

    • CF says:

      I have never tried growing grapes, but it’s a common sight in Vancouver, especially in the Italian and Portuguese communities. I wouldn’t have any idea where to start!

  9. Savvy Scot says:

    Looks like you have done well. I have actually started growing my own chillies this year – Not only are they a lot fresher, but they save a considerable amount of money (surprisingly)!

  10. This looks great! You have inspired me to do my own veggie patch!

  11. Wow, that’s a lot of tomatoes! I can’t wait until we have our own place and we can grow things. The boy has a green thumb – me, not so much.

  12. Beautiful produce! I couldn’t even get a red tomato this year. Did you ever figure out the mystery plant or did I miss that already?

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