Does gardening cost less then a store.

Does a garden pay for itself ? Or is it cheaper to go to the grocery store.
how big you have to have to break even.
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it depends on your soil. In the short term - NO, long term - YES! However, it is not size that matters in cost to break even. A tomato plant in a pot can save you money. So the more space you have the greater the potential there is to save. The biggest cost in gardening is the cost of time in which only you can put a value on.
If you have good soil to begin with, the cost is only a few tools and soil amendments will not cost as much. Soil that is not very good will cost you more for raised beds or lots for soil amendments. Seeds cost less than four dollars a pack, a pack of seeds will last about four years in a dry cool place. Buying plants ready for transplanting reduces the cost effectiveness. If space is limited growing high cost foods like tomatoes peppers and leaf lettuces are much cheaper to grow your own. Carrots and potatoes are cheap at the stores and will not be as cost effective. If you have lots of land, like around 2,000 square feet of good soil you can grow lots of food for a family of four. One note: ninety percent of my seeds go directly into the ground and only ten percent I start with seed kits. Tomatoes and peppers I start with seeds indoors, all else is seeds directly in the ground.
Gardening is like any other hobby or occupation, it does take some knowledge and skills to be good at it. The more you learn and the more skilled you become and the cheaper your gardening cost will become. Learn how to seed save, learn to make your compost and learn how to build your own soil so no need to buy them.
Gardening is also more than just vegetable gardening. I find gardening is a great physical and mental workout. Good for the soul to get out in the yard and make it look beautiful that helps the mind get away from the problems and ugliness of the world.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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"Nad R" wrote in message wrote:

it depends on your soil. In the short term - NO, long term - YES! However, it is not size that matters in cost to break even. A tomato plant in a pot can save you money. So the more space you have the greater the potential there is to save. The biggest cost in gardening is the cost of time in which only you can put a value on.
If you have good soil to begin with, the cost is only a few tools and soil amendments will not cost as much. Soil that is not very good will cost you more for raised beds or lots for soil amendments. Seeds cost less than four dollars a pack, a pack of seeds will last about four years in a dry cool place. Buying plants ready for transplanting reduces the cost effectiveness. If space is limited growing high cost foods like tomatoes peppers and leaf lettuces are much cheaper to grow your own. Carrots and potatoes are cheap at the stores and will not be as cost effective. If you have lots of land, like around 2,000 square feet of good soil you can grow lots of food for a family of four. One note: ninety percent of my seeds go directly into the ground and only ten percent I start with seed kits. Tomatoes and peppers I start with seeds indoors, all else is seeds directly in the ground.
Gardening is like any other hobby or occupation, it does take some knowledge and skills to be good at it. The more you learn and the more skilled you become and the cheaper your gardening cost will become. Learn how to seed save, learn to make your compost and learn how to build your own soil so no need to buy them.
Gardening is also more than just vegetable gardening. I find gardening is a great physical and mental workout. Good for the soul to get out in the yard and make it look beautiful that helps the mind get away from the problems and ugliness of the world.
--
Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)


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"One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race." Wendell Berry
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden






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wrote:

My garden has probably 'lost money' every year for 40 years or so. It is also probably the most profitable endeavor I've ever engaged in.
I can buy cheap, tasteless tomatoes all summer for a fraction of what I invest in plants, seeds, equipment, and supplies- not even counting the labor.
But I can't buy the taste or convenience for any price. And the satisfaction that comes when things go right, can't be bought.

If you want to make money [or break even] grow a cash crop and buy produce.
If you want to enjoy good produce, grow what you like.
If you don't enjoy gardening for its own sake-- then get a part time job & rent your garden space to somebody else.
Jim
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wrote:

Sure you can, see below.

There's another option, one that we've used going on four years now: www.localharvest.org/csa
My wife hates everything about gardening except the eating part. I tended one for years due to the fact that we had seven kids, it was a necessity. Now that they're almost all gone we get the best of both worlds. It's kind of expensive, but it's also delivered fresh weekly. Plus we know the farmers, how they grow it, and it tastes every bit as good as when I grew it. Better actually. And you never know what's going to be in the boxes until it gets there. Makes it fun and we've enjoyed things we'd never even tried before.
I also take turns delivering the boxes to the other share holders just to visit. Many of them go this route for the same reasons as we do. They can't stand store bought fruits and veggies and for whatever reason can't tend a garden. And our local CSA's are diverse in what they offer. I just put a 1/2 a pig in the freezer a couple of weeks back from one. Also get chickens and beef from another. And fresh eggs from another. Plus living in the PNW we also have one that specializes in seafood.
None of this addresses the OP's questions. I think if money was an important factor to decide on gardening or not, he could look into specializing in cash crops.
Newb
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"Jim Elbrecht" wrote in message
wrote:

My garden has probably 'lost money' every year for 40 years or so. It is also probably the most profitable endeavor I've ever engaged in.
I can buy cheap, tasteless tomatoes all summer for a fraction of what I invest in plants, seeds, equipment, and supplies- not even counting the labor.
But I can't buy the taste or convenience for any price. And the satisfaction that comes when things go right, can't be bought.

If you want to make money [or break even] grow a cash crop and buy produce.
If you want to enjoy good produce, grow what you like.
If you don't enjoy gardening for its own sake-- then get a part time job & rent your garden space to somebody else.
Jim ---------------------------------------- That’s me
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The taste of a ripe tomato from your yard is worth more than money, it is a mouth treat you can't put a value on. And being able to go to the garden for a salad, lettuce, spinach leaves, and maybe sweet pea pods is a delight. You know what has been sprayed or not sprayed on it, and the freshness there is no substitute for. We buy plants for tomatoes, and seed for the rest. We're always way ahead of the game. Nanzi
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wrote:

The taste of a ripe tomato from your yard is worth more than money, it is a mouth treat you can't put a value on. And being able to go to the garden for a salad, lettuce, spinach leaves, and maybe sweet pea pods is a delight. You know what has been sprayed or not sprayed on it, and the freshness there is no substitute for. We buy plants for tomatoes, and seed for the rest. We're always way ahead of the game. Nanzi
Yea, I didn't mention last years tomatoes and lettuce were the bomb. People were asking me for tomatoes and lettuce last year. And my eggplants made me some great Thai curry vegetables. I got a lot more work to go this year. And a whole lot of digging.
Thanks, Diesel
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On Mon, 14 Feb 2011 03:38:32 -0500, DogDiesel wrote:

It all depends on how you look at it. Do you spend money on entertainment. Maybe you find gardening fun, so the cost of say, buying a tomato plant and using water, can be though of as entertainment money. Then every tomato you pick is pure profit. Also it depends on how you garden. If you spend 100 dollars building a raised bed, and buying soil, you will probably not get 100 dollars of tomatoes in the first season. If you just use homegrown compost, and build you planters out of salvaged wood, then the cost of a tomato plant and the water needed is probably much less then how much would spend buying as many tomatoes as you harvest. Also your time is valuable. If you hate gardening then you will spend valuable time gardening. If you like gardening then you get quality time when you garden. Would you prefer to garden for an hour, or watch tv for an hour?
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Neither. Id prefer to eat for an hour. Then take a nap.
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On Tue, 15 Feb 2011 14:45:56 -0500, DogDiesel wrote:

I graze while I garden.
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Factory farmed produce is definitely cheaper, in the short term, at the store than you can grow yourself (economy of size).
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan <(Amazon.com product link shortened) 583/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid06815576&sr=1-1> (Available at better libraries near you)
BIG ORGANIC * 179
The organic label is a marketing tool," Secretary Glickman said. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is 'organic' a value judgment about nutrition or quality."
Some intriguing recent research suggests otherwise. A study by University of CaliforniaDavis researchers published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2003 described an experiment in which identical varieties of corn, strawberries, and blackberries grown in neighboring plots using different methods (including organically and conventionally) were compared for levels of vitamins and polyphenols. Polyphenols are a group of secondary metabolites manufactured by plants that we've recently learned play an important role in human health and nutrition. Many are potent antioxidants; some play a role in preventing or fighting cancer; others exhibit antimicrobial properties. The Davis researchers found that organic and otherwise sustainably grown fruits and vegetables contained significantly higher levels of both ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and a wide range of polyphenols.
The recent discovery of these secondary metabolites in plants has bought our understanding of the biological and chemical complexity of foods to a deeper level of refinement; history suggests we haven't gotten anywhere near the bottom of this question, either. The first level was reached early in the nineteenth century with the identification of the macronutrientsprotein, carbohydrate, and fat. Having isolated these compounds, chemists thought they'd unlocked the key to human nutrition. Yet some people (such as sailors) living on diets rich in macronutrients nevertheless got sick. The mystery was solved when scientists discovered the major vitaminsa second key to human nutrition. Now it's the polyphenols in plants that we're learning play a critical role in keeping us healthy. (And which might explain why diets heavy in processed food fortified with vitamins still aren't as nutritious as fresh foods.) You wonder what else is going on in these plants, what other undiscovered qualities in them we've evolved to depend on.
In many ways the mysteries of nutrition at the eating end of the food chain closely mirror the mysteries of fertility at the growing end: The two realms are like wildernesses that we keep convincing ourselves
Omnivores Dilemma 180
our chemistry has mapped, at least until the next level of complexity comes into view. Curiously, Justus von Liebig, the nineteenth-century German chemist with the spectacularly ironic surname, bears responsibility for science's overly reductive understanding of both ends of the food chain. It was Liebig, you'll recall, who thought he had found the chemical key to soil fertility with the discovery of NPK, and it was the same Liebig who thought he had found the key to human nutrition when identified the macronutrients in food. Liebig wasn't wrong on either count, yet in both instances he made the fatal mistake of thinking that what we knew about nourishing plants and people was all we need to know to keep them healthy. It's a mistake we'll probably keep repeating until we develop a deeper respect for the complexity of food soil and, perhaps, the links between the two.
But back to the polyphenols, which may hint at the nature of that link. Why in the world should organically grown blackberries or corn contain significantly more of these compounds? The authors of Davis study haven't settled the question, but they offer two suggestive theories. The reason plants produce these compounds in the first place is to defend themselves against pests and diseases; the more pressure from pathogens, the more polyphenols a plant will produce. These compounds, then, are the products of natural selection and, more specifically, the coevolutionary relationship between plants and the species that prey on them. Who would have guessed that humans evolved to profit from a diet of these plant pesticides? Or that we would invent an agriculture that then deprived us of them? The Davis authors hypothesize that plants being defended by man-made pesticides dont need to work as hard to make their own polyphenol pesticides. Coddled by us and our chemicals, the plants see no reason to invest their sources in mounting a strong defense. (Sort of like European nations during the cold war.)
A second explanation (one that subsequent research seems to suppport) may be that the radically simplified soils in which chemically fertilized plants grow don't supply all the raw ingredients needed to synthesize these compounds, leaving the plants more vulnerable to attack,
BIG ORGANIC * 181
as we know conventionally grown plants tend to be. NPK might be sufficient for plant growth yet still might not give a plant everything it needs to manufacture ascorbic acid or lycopene or resveratrol in quantity. As it happens, many of the polyphenols (and especially a subset called the flavonols) contribute to the characteristic taste of a fruit or vegetable. Qualities we can't yet identify, in soil may contribute qualities we've only just begun to identify in our foods and our bodies.
Reading the Davis study I couldn't help thinking about the early proponents of organic agriculture, people like Sir Albert Howard and J. I. Rodale, who would have been cheered, if unsurprised, by the findings. Both men were ridiculed for their unscientific conviction that a reductive approach to soil fertilitythe NPK mentalitywould diminish the nutritional quality of the food grown in it and, in turn, the health of the people who lived on that food. All carrots are not created equal, they believed; how we grow it, the soil we grow it in, what we feed that soil all contribute qualities to a carrot, qualities that may yet escape the explanatory net of our chemistry. Sooner or later the soil scientists and nutritionists will catch up to Sir Howard, heed his admonition that we begin treating the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal and man as one great subject."
So it happens that these organic blackberries perched on this mound of vanilla ice cream, having been grown in a complexly fertile soil and forced to fight their own fights against pests and disease, are in some quantifiable way more nutritious than conventional blackberries. This would probably not come as earthshaking news to Albert Howard or J. I. Rodale or any number of organic farmers, but at least now it is a claim for which we can supply a scientific citation: J. Agric. Food. Chem. vol. 51, no. 5, 2003. (Several other such studies have appeared since; see the Sources section at the back of this book.)
Obviously there is much more to be learned about the relationship of soil to plant, animals, and health, and it would be a mistake to lean too heavily on any one study. It would also be a mistake to assume that the word organic" on a label automatically signifies healthfulness, especially when that label appears on heavily processed and long-distance
THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA 182
foods that have probably had much of their nutritional value, not to mention flavor, beaten out of them long before they arrive at our tables.
p.269
The fact that the nutritional quality of a given food (and of that food's food) can vary not just in degree but in kind throws a big wrench into an industrial food chain, the very premise of which is that beef is beef and salmon salmon. It also throws a new light on the whole question of cost, for if quality matters so much more than quantity, then the price of a food may bear little relation to the value of the nutrients in it. If units of omega-3s and beta carotene and vitamin E are what an egg shopper is really after, then Joel's $2.20 a dozen pastured eggs actually represent a much better deal than the $0.79 a dozen industrial eggs at the supermarket. As long as one egg looks pretty much like another, all the chickens like chicken, and beef beef, the substitution of quantity for quality will go on unnoticed by most consumers, but it is becoming increasingly apparent to anyone with an electron microscope or a mass spectrometer that, truly, this is not the same food.
--
- Billy
When you give food to the poor, they call you a saint. When you ask why the
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DogDiesel wrote:

It depends on the situation.
If you are buying most or all of your inputs (as in balcony container gardening) in terms of the price per kilo of the produce that you can grow compared to a supermarket you are probably losing money growing your own unless fresh produce prices are consistently very high in your area. However if you factor in quality, freshness, personal enjoyment etc you may not be losing at all. Even the balcony gardener can be in profit on some items if they are clever. Herbs are an obvious choice, if you like your food and use fresh herbs often then the overhead of having a pot of rosemary (and basil in summer) will over time more than cover the cost of buying by the bunch in the supermarket. If you forget to water it for a month and it dies probably not.
If you are not buying many inputs and those that you do buy are in bulk then financially you are much closer to breaking even or making a profit. Planting from seed will save you much compared to always buying seedlings. Picking up manure on a neighbour's paddock is cheaper and better than buying sacks of fertiliser and getting cuttings for free from a neighbour or garden club is infinitely cheaper than paying someone else to strike them and sell you a little pot. Using an old gate from the garbage dump for a trellis is much cheaper than buying new materials.
Saving on your plot will happen most often if you start with good soil and access to cheap water and you are able to (and prepared to) source things like mulch, manure etc locally. This is easier in rural and semi-rural regions but if you get off your arse and go looking you can find resources in cities, for example local riding stables and local government bodies that give away or sell mulch cheaply. Those who find the capacity to grow their own food important will take this into account when selecting where they live.
Size is an issue for fixed costs. You are going to need certain equipment (eg a spade) whether you are planting 5 square metres or 50. Such fixed overheads remain more or less constant up to the size where there needs to be more than one person working on the plot at any given time or where manual operations must give way to mechanisation. This size is going to be larger than most home gardeners need or want. Aside from such overheads running costs are going to be pretty much in proportion to the area that you are working.
Your skill is another factor. Choosing the right crop in the right season in the right place and giving it the right treatment will make the difference between a poor crop (or none at all) and a good one. The excess can be sold at "farmer's markets" or exchanged with neighbours.
So yes the garden can pay for itself if you put in the effort and it will also save you gym fees. It can also give you experiences that you can never buy in the supermarket. A good cultivar of peach ripened on the tree will knock your socks off, you haven't tasted asparagus until you have eaten it really fresh, the humble cabbage is sweet only for a few days after it is cut. None of this is possible with supermarket food.
David
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DogDiesel wrote:

If they did everyone would do them. Gardens are for fun or for lack of choice to anyone not in the farming business. And there's the point where the profit is made - There are people in the farmers market business who do indeed garden for a profit. Some of them for a very small profit because they are in it as a profitable hobby.
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Doug Freyburger wrote:

If they had the space, the time, the soil and water and the skill.
Gardens are for fun or for lack

True, you aren't going to be paying yourself a high hourly rate.
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

If have plenty of 1st/2nd/3rd cousins who are construction workers in dairy farming territory. They have plenty of space, soil and water plus about as much time as anyone with a day job has. Some garden some don't. The ones who garden do it for fun. The ones who don't tend to apply their time and skill to hunting whatever is in season.
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Money-wise, my garden doesn't come close to breaking even; although if people like Marjory Wildcraft are correct, that might change in the next few years...
http://www.youtube . com/watch? v=cWVtaY3Zdpc
http://www.youtube . com/watch? v=xBWHeR2ar1Q
http://www.youtube . com/watch? v=kT5Bi-RrpVQ
http://www.youtube . com/watch? v=OOEj23RwXIE
As many others have posted there is a lot of satisfaction from growing your own food, and the flavor can't be beat. Personally, I just feel better out in the sun, rain, dirt, air. Leave the phone and the computer in the house and feel like I am really doing something important pulling weeds and picking stones. I know that all the world's problems and bullshit is still all around me, but I just don't care - perhaps it's all an illusion that somehow I am still connected to the larger galactoplasm, but it's a good illusion. It's also a really great feeling to give food away to folks who think it always comes from boxes and plastic wrap who can't believe the taste of 'real' food. As far as the o.p asking about big you have to have to break even? I have no accurate idea of what I spend in money or time, so it would be hard to figure. Chas
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