As we meander through winter toward spring, what to plant this year is probably on the minds of many a gardener. Cultivating vegetable and fruit can produce some great food, but one might wonder whether doing so is even profitable or not. Are you really saving money by planting your own produce? The short answer: Yes.
Now for the longer, more elaborate answer. Gail Langellotto is the Oregon State Master Gardener Coordinator, and last year she was asking herself this very question. She decided to do a little research to determine an approximation of how much money a home vegetable garden would yield in profits.
She tracked down six studies to aid in her research, which tracked a total of 8 vegetable gardens. By studying the difference between the gardens’ produce yield and the cost, Gail determined that all eight gardens were profitable. She divided the value into a square footage value since produce is heavily dependent on size.
“Altogether, the gardens had an AVERAGE VALUE OF $0.74/square foot of garden area, and a MEDIAN VALUE OF $0.62/square foot of garden area,” Gail reported on her blog. That means that a garden that’s just 200 square feet would save approximately $148 in the first year. And since cost will be lower in the following years, the profit would go up.
Of course, the savings are also directly related to what kind of produce the garden is yielding. Gail recommends growing salad greens, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, potato and strawberries since they yield the most. However, she also advises to stick to vegetables your family likes to eat, since those will be less likely to go to waste.
Furthermore, vegetable garden costs can be cut by self-composting, building raised gardens, planting easy-to-grow vegetables, actively managing pests, weeding regularly, watering by hand to save water, and preserving and not wasting plants and produce.