Feeling Broke? Plant A Garden

Garden Strawberries Photo

Grow these at home. Photo by Jenn Pentland

It's no secret that garden fresh produce tastes better than what you buy at the supermarket. Throw in the physical and mental health benefits and zero emissions from shipping and it quickly becomes clear that growing your own makes sense. And now, finally, someone has done the calculations on what kind of a boost a garden gives your bank account. On the website for Kitchen Gardeners International, Roger Doiron writes about how he and his wife, Jacqueline, took the time to calculate what their harvest was worth. The short answer is around $2000 for a haul that just topped 800 pounds.

There was a lot of work involved, mostly for Jacqueline, but as with gardening itself, it was work with a purpose. It didn’t take long for our log book to start filling up with dates and figures. Although we started eating our first garden salads in late April, we only began recording our harvests as of May 10th, starting first with greens and asparagus. Our last weighable harvest was two weeks ago in the form of a final cutting of Belgian endives forced from roots in our basement.

Doiron compiled the raw data, broken down by produce item, and includes harvest weight and the comparative price at his local supermarket, farmers market and Whole Foods. Tomatoes came out with the highest value with 150 pounds grown, worth around $600. Doiron also grew $200 worth of potatoes, $100 of strawberries and five bucks worth of artichokes.

The Associated Press is reporting that Doiron and his family are not alone in gardening to save money. So many people are clamoring to grow their own that some seed companies are having trouble filling all their orders.

Industry surveys show double-digit growth in the number of home gardeners this year and mail-order companies report such a tremendous demand that some have run out of seeds for basic vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and peppers.

AP goes on to quote some complimentary, if not as robust, numbers to those compiled by Doiron.
The National Gardening Association estimates that a well-maintained vegetable garden yields a $500 average return per year. A study by Burpee Seeds claims that $50 spent on gardening supplies can multiply into $1,250 worth of produce annually.

Seed companies say this renaissance has rescued their vegetable business after years of drooping sales. Orders for vegetable seeds have skyrocketed, while orders for ornamental flowers are flat or down, said Richard Chamberlin, president of Harris Seeds in Rochester, N.Y.

Business there has increased 40 percent in the last year, with the most growth among vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes and kitchen herbs that can thrive in small urban plots or patio containers, he said. Harris Seeds recently had to reorder pepper and tomato seeds.

A renaissance of backyard gardening will not only make people and the environment healthier, maybe it will solve this economic crisis to boot.

More on Gardening
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How to Go Green: Gardening
How Green Is Your Garden?
Eat the View: Tax Breaks for Gardens

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