Can Growing Your Own Save Money?

Recently I’ve been asked if growing your own can save money by a couple of journalists. Now to me, it’s a no brainer. YES! You only have to look at the price of a packet of seeds and the cost of the resulting vegetable in the shop.

We saw a pack of 5 leeks in a supermarket for £2.00 the other day, that’s 40p a leek. Not organic leeks, just ordinary ‘who knows what they’ve been sprayed with’ leeks. A packet of leek seeds depending on variety etc will cost around £1.50 to £2.00 for a couple of hundred seeds. Say a penny each. Assume half fail and we’re still only 2p a leek.

But leeks are nothing compared to raspberries. I picked up a punnet of organic raspberries and looked at the very small print where it tells you the price per kilogram. £16.60. Ordinary non-organic were, in another supermarket, £13.34 a kilo. I’m not making this up, check for yourself.

Now flicking through a nursery’s fruit catalogue, I noticed raspberries at 6 canes for £13.50. Each cane should produce between 1 and 1.5 kg a year for 10 years. Lets take the lower figure of one kilo per plant and we can expect 60 kilos over 10 years.

So our investment of £13.50 should give a return of £800 worth of fruit over the years (60 kg @ £13.34).

Now I know that it’s not quite that simple. For a start you need to build some supports for your raspberries and invest a little time pruning etc. Of course there are failures when you grown your own, this has been a rotten year for me, but even so some crops succeed. It’s almost impossible to completely fail.

The big hole in my calculations is labour. I doubt you can save as much money growing your own as you could earn in the same time at a job. That does depend on you having a job which isn’t exactly certain these days. But is gardening work? It can certainly be hard labour but, to me, anything you enjoy doing can hardly count as work.

On the plot

Back on the plot, it does seem that we’re singled out for bad weather. If I hear ‘except for some rain on the coast’ or ‘a few spots on high ground’ again, I might scream. Still, managed to get some things done, dodging the rain.

The compost bins are now finished, which is a milestone passed. Nearby to us is a patch of waste ground which is covered in bracken. It’s dying back now but next year I’m planning on harvesting it as a compost material. Add in some green manure crops, shredded paper and cardboard plus a load of grass clippings and we’ll be on the way to turning this thin, stony soil into productive land.

We’re finally enjoying masses of tomatoes from the greenhouse, better late than never. Val’s been busy turning them into sauce base for the freezer. We’re also getting lots of runner beans. Incidentally, this recipe we picked up in Greece is delicious and uses runner beans and tomatoes. Green Beans in Oil there’s a slightly more complicated version that’s even better if you’ve got time: Greek Style Green Beans

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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