Was It Worth It To Grow My Own Food?

Over the summer I have been weighing all the food I have harvested. Why you ask? I wanted to see how much I could grow in our six raised  beds. Then I wondered, was all this work worth the effort. Was I really saving money? For those of you who know me, I wouldn’t have it any differently. I live and breathe gardening. Getting to eat what I grow fresh from the garden gives me a sense of pride. Having healthy organic food  is key as I know what went into my soil.

Was it worth it to grow my own food?

It’s hard to believe that the six raised beds we built in late May could go from looking like this…..

Was it worth it to grow my own food?

to this. It was like a garden on steroids yet I only use organic fertilizers.

So I thought I would compare the yields I have harvested and put a price on them. What If I had to buy this at the grocery store? What would it have cost? I went to the farmers market. Was it cheaper there? I had to know.

Was it worth it to grow my own food?

Anyone reading this blog knows I harvested a bumper crop of field cucumbers, 53 1/4 pounds to be exact. I also harvested 15 3/4 pounds of crystal apple cucumbers for a total of 69 pounds of cucumbers.

Was it worth it to grow my own food?

I also grew a bed of basil that weighed in at 5 1/4 pounds and it’s still producing. I had enough to give away to friends. The last plants are being left to flower so I can collect seed for next year.

Was it worth it to grow my own food?

This was my first year growing cucamelons or mouse melons. To date I have harvested 4 pounds and haven’t seen this cucumber sold anywhere. So I will call them priceless.

I also grew miniature, jalapeno and green bell peppers in one bed. To date I have harvested almost 16.25 pounds of peppers. I love the thought that I have a freezer full of peppers for those winter meals.

I harvested some fruit from berries to pears as well. The pear tree is still loaded so I won’t know full totals until we get up the ladder once again.

So let’s look at how price compares: S is for store, M is for Market.My harvest weights are next to the product.

Vegetable or Fruit                       Grocery Store          Farmers Market        Money Saved S/M

Potatoes (10.75lb)                           .99lb                           $2.50 lb                       $10.64/ $26.87

Miniature peppers  (8lb)              $4.99lb                    Not sold                        $39.92/NA

Green bell peppers (2.5lb )         $2.99lb                    $2.50 lb                        $7.46/$6.25

Jalapeno peppers (5.75lb)           $2.49lb                   $5.00 lb                        $14.32/ $28.75

Bosc Pears (12lb)                                  .99 lb                    Not sold                        $11.88/NA

Field Cucumber(53.25 lb)             $1.29 each          $1.25 each                   $58.05/$56.25

Cucamelons (4lb)                             Not sold                      Not sold                   4 lbs/priceless

Basil (5.25lb)                                  $40.37lb                    $1.50/bunch             $211.94/$52.50

Garlic (40)                                      .59 each                        $2.00each                 $23.60/$80.00

Crystal apple cukes               Not sold                             Not sold                     N/A /priceless

Tomatoes (5lb)                          $1.69lb                               $4.00lb                       $8.45/$20.00

Cilantro (4 bunch)                  .59 each                             $1.50/bunch            $2.36/$6.00

Lettuce (6 heads)                    $1.99  each                       $1.00 each               $11.94/$6.00

Blueberries (4.25lb)             $4.99lb                                $7.50lb                      $21.20/$31.87

Onions (2lb)                                .99 lb                                   $2.50 lb                     $1.98/$5.00

Raspberries(3lb)                    $10.65lb                            $6.00 lb                    $31.95/$18.00

Blackberry (2.25lb)               $11.99 lb                             N/A                          $26.98/NA

If I had to buy at the grocery store it would have cost me $482.67

If I bought this at the farmers market it would have cost $337.49

It’s interesting to note the price of basil. This is one crop worth growing and either freezing or making pesto. I have 35 packages of pesto for the winter and it will last until the next season’s crop is ready. Prices vary from month to month and all my price checking was done in September. I found over the summer that prices at the farmers were a bit lower than shopping at the local village market. There are pros and cons in growing your own food. You are responsible for the outcome. You get what you put into it. You have to stay on top of watering and harvesting. Shopping at the farmers market is considered an experience that many enjoy. Ten thousand people attend our local market in one day. I would rather shop in my garden than deal with crowds like that. Time is a factor as well with our busy schedules. Mind you, it takes time to go to the grocery so shopping in the garden is definitely easier. So what were my costs? Much of the seed I used was my own saved seed or seed I was given. I spent about $20 on vegetable seeds and $30 on organic fertilizer. I spent about an hour a day in the vegetable garden due to our hot summer, watering mostly. The new kitchen bed that we built did cost us around $1000 to install but once built it will be used for years to come.

So how much did I harvest from July to September? 133.75 pounds of food and that doesn’t count the garlic, lettuce and other salad greens or the 27 pounds I harvested at the community garden for the food bank. I still have pears to go and hopefully that will be it until the winter crops are ready. It’s no wonder I look forward to winter so I can put my feet up. I am already planning next years garden. Are you?






11 thoughts on “Was It Worth It To Grow My Own Food?

  1. Well done! Thank you for keeping us posted. I have little area to plant directly into the ground and I have been thinking raised beds. You’ve inspired me to do just that. Being in our sixties, DH and I need to have the raised beds! I am interested in how closely together you planted your plants. I will be diagraming this winter….

    1. Hi Marilyn, Our raised beds are 4’x8′ with 4′ paths in between. You need room in between to move a wheelbarrow. I garden with a hip replacement so raised beds work well for me. Raised beds also warm up faster in the spring than your in ground garden. When planting I tend to follow the directions on the seed package when planting but often plants like cucumbers are a bit closer to be able fit them in. You could use the square foot garden method on a raised bed to maximize your planting. Hope this helps.

  2. Oh wow, look at all that! It’s true that what you put in is what you get out of the garden. It was worth spending a week at work with dirty hands from weeding and caring for ours every weekend. 🙂

    Our second year of growing our own garden had its bumps, but that just means lessons learned for next year. And, yes, we’re planning! I’d really like to plant more herbs next year. Each year, we add a little more.

  3. don’t know where you live, but your price quotes are indeed huge….not around here. Water, the main culprit, prohibts growing such things. So,
    much more wise to buy organic at the local farmers market or the wonderful
    asian stand close by here. All organic and just plain cheap…..One must weigh the facts, in the end use the enregy and time in other ways.
    Do appreciate your comments though.

    1. I agree with Sel, but will add one more factor in determining the value of growing your own crops; how much of an item normally purchase and how much of the crop was used?

      How many bell peppers, mini peppers, basil, etc. do you purchase and use annually? That would be a key in determining how much was actually saved. For instance, we set out anywhere from 40 to 60 tomato plants every year (GA garden) and preserve over 100 quarts of tomatoes, sauces and jams. But we do not completely use the stock we can each year. I can only count the value of what we actually used in my “annual savings” register.

      I am curious what do you do with the abundance of cucamelons? I couldn’t help remembering the year I planted my cukes too close to the watermelon… eugh.

      Background: I grew up in the deep south, but now live in Olympia, WA. (Talking about 2 completely different gardening experiences.) I have been gardening from the age off toddle. ????

      1. Good questions! I am afraid that one bed of peppers will not last us the year as we eat them every second day. Fresh basil is something I never buy as its so expensive so having pesto in the freezer is a bonus. I also froze whole basil leaves which are so easy to use in sauces and on pizza. I wish I had a better crop of tomatoes but mother nature meant it not to be this year. I grew the cucamelons for seed this year as it was hard to find. I will be growing plants for sale next spring. I have about an 18 month supply of relish stored made from the cucumbers. I love to share some with family as well. I am still dealing with a surplus of pears.

  4. I love this, we have been doing the same this year – totals are astounding!! I am pleased to report that with a family of 4, a bunch of jars and a deep freeze, we have very little that does not get eaten – we may never buy as many beans or tomatoes as we grow if we had to pay for them, but since we eat what is ripe, when it is ripe and try really hard not to buy additional veggies – we eat a lot more, more often. My kids are very happy taking a tomato and a cucumber to school whole for snack instead of a banana or a granola bar! When we hit 300 pounds this year, we were blown away – but as our season winds down here in Nova Scotia, we are not sure we will have harvested and froze enough for the whole winter… I think the real key is to have a plan, eat what is ripe (replacing other non-local, non-seasonal treats for the time being) and having the space to can and freeze so beautiful produce doe snot go waste. I love following you posts – I wish we could freeze our cucamelons – they got gobbled as snacks while the kids played in the back yard this year and they want to plant a dozen vines next year – we only got 1 bowl into the house the whole summer!!!

    1. Wow, thats a wonderful harvest! Way to go! I am going to read the book ‘How to Grow a Sustainable Diet’ and see if I can improve on the crops that I grow. I think its important to walk the garden and try to incorporate as much as we can into our meal plans. I have now taken a liking to beet greens and arugula for salad in place of lettuce. I wish I could freeze cucumbers. I miss them but will use grated beets or something else from the garden in my salads.

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