August Urban Garden Update: Reaping the Fruits of our Labor

Brent Pittman —  08/07/2012

Colorful Bell Peppers

Several months ago we started our urban garden on our balcony and we’ve learned a lot about gardening basics. We’ve battled disease and bugs and are coming out on top.

Now, we’re enjoying the fruits of our labor with yummy vegetables. I thought I do a quick analysis on how much money we’ve saved so far.

Original Expense

Here is a summary of our original expense that we used from our tax refund.

  • 1 larger planter + tray and hanging pot $30
  • 5- 5 gallon buckets and trays $40
  • 4 large bags of dirt  $36
  • Plants, bulbs, and Herbs $20 (so cheap!)
  • Gardening Tools: $18.50
  • Total $144.50 +tax

Garden Production

We keep track of course. If you pick a veggie, you’ve got to add it to the chart on the fridge.

  • Squash & Zucchini- 1 (3 on the vine)
  • Potatoes- Only 7 and those plants are now dead, but we hope to make tubers out of other smaller potatoes to start again.
  • Bell Peppers- These 6 plants are doing great. We’ve eaten 5 peppers and there are more on the vine ripening and others still producing.
  • Onions, Mint, Basil- #FAIL
  • Cherry Tomatoes- This is the champ so far. 58 cherry tomatoes with dozens more to go.
Potatoes from Urban Garden

New Potatoes from our garden

Summer Garden ROI

How much have we saved on our grocery bill by having our urban garden? I’ll do a bit of fuzzy math to calculate using this chart to help.

  • Squash & zucchini- Price is listed as $1.50 a pound, so I’m guess only .25 savings.
  • Potatoes- I’m guessing we saved $1.38 on these.
  • Bell Peppers- I’m going with $1.50 each and that might be low, considering we have a variety of colors. Price $7.50
  • Cherry Tomatoes- I found that 38 cherry tomatoes are in a pint  and a pint is $2.53. So it would cost us $3.86 to buy our cherry tomatoes from the store.
  • Total $12.99
  • ROI: Expense $144.50 –  Earnings of $12.99=  -$131.51 (I’m thinking we’ll have a loss this season)

Looking Towards the Fall

We’ve still many veggies left to pick, but I’m already plotting our Fall garden. Any suggestions?

How is your garden going? Have you ever calculated your garden ROI? 

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • Greg@ClubThrifty

    Ah man, this post makes me feel so guilty. We had every intention of starting a garden this summer, even clearing out some trees to make space for it. Unfortunately, we never got it going. I guess there is always next Spring.

  • AverageJoe

    I think you’ll have a loss, too. But Tyler nailed it: you’ll get your return by using those tools year over year. Plus, those home-grown veggies task so much flippin’ better than store bought veggies, it’s incredible. Is that a pic of your own purple pepper? Never seen purple before….

  • Never expect to get an immediate return on pots, planters, garden tools, or soil. Those you need to depreciate over about 10 years. If you calculate it that way then you had costs of $12.40 for depreciating the overhead and $20 for seeds and plants. Netting a loss of roughly $20

    • Tyler, Hey I like your fancy accounting. Never thought of depreciating my containers. I was just going for straight math since I won’t be able to count my garden off on my taxes or do I get urban farmer tax breaks?