Archives For Urban Garden

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? 

Urban Garden: Pepper Plant in Milk Jug

Our urban garden experiment has been going for a bit now and we’re seeing some fruit from our labor! If you’re just turning in, we planted a garden on our apartment’s balcony in 5 gallon buckets, milk jugs and assorted pots.

We’re learning a lot about gardening…this stuff is tough work.

“The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees”.-unknown

Urban Garden: Fruit

After weeks and weeks of watering and fruit has been spotted! The cherry tomato has dozens of green baby tomatos. We should be eating salad soon!

Tomato Plant

The 2/6 pepper plants have baby peppers growing, the others are flowering so they should be fruiting (is that what you say?) soon.

Pepper Plant

Urban Garden: Bugs and Disease

Geez this garden thing was supposed to be easy. Hey we live in the city, how did the bugs and disease find our plants?

Something is eating our potato plant

Mystery holes in potato plant.

It seems something is chomping on our potato plant. Possible culprits:

  • Colorado Potato Beetle– This little bugger likes potatoes and maybe even peppers. Haven’t seen one yet, so I’m sure it’s the culprit.
  • Flea Beetle- Another beetle. No sign of this one either.
  • Aphids- Could be potato or peach aphid. These guys munch and spread disease.
  • Slugs- I’ve read that slugs come out at night and munch on plants and disappear during the day…I’ll have to go out at night with the flashlight to investigate!
  • It could be we just got a diseased crop that happens occasionally.
This will take a bit more investigating, but now I’m on a mission to find out what is eating my potato plant.

Our 3 squash and 3 zucchini plants have powdery mildew. Gross I know. It looks like athletes foot.

White Powdery Mildew on Squash

White Powdery Mildew on Squash.

Powdery mildew likes hot dry areas and could be caused by too much shade and overcrowding. I’m pretty sure we’ve overcrowded and over planted our 5-gallon buckets, I’ll try separating and giving them space.

We’re going to have to try a water spay made of 1:10 milk solution. We’ll have to wait for the “June Gloom” to dissipate as you need a sunny day.

Urban Garden: Failures

We’ve only had one fatality so that’s good odds. The basil plant bit the dust weeks ago. It seems it got neglected in the watering rotation.

We’ve got our watering rotation down now. Every other day and it seems to be working out. Our toddler even gets in on the action to water a few plants with a cup.

How is your garden going? Have you ever dealt with potato bugs or white powdery mildew on your squash? 

We've got a little garden gnome helper!

We started our urban garden this weekend on our apartment balcony. Thanks for those who offered tips from our Urban Garden: Frugal or Hobby post and via various social media.

Urban Garden: What Did You Buy and How Much Did it Cost?

The plants were relatively inexpensive while the dirt and containers to put them in were the greatest expense. It was a little more than I expected for start up cost, so this first garden doesn’t have much chance in saving money.

  • 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

Urban Garden Tricks

Why 5 gallon buckets? They are much cheaper than planters and easy to move. I cut five holes with a sharp knife out of the bottom to let the water drain. I got the idea from the Urban Organic Gardner.

5 gallon bucket with holes for drainage

Urban Garden: What Did You Plant?

We decided to plant vegetables that are supposedly easy to grow and ones that we’ll eat. Starting from seeds is just hard, so we went with bulbs and starter plants to make it easy our first time starting a garden.

  • 1 Cherry Tomato
  • 2 tubers (starter potatoes)
  • 3 Squash and Zucchini plants
  • 3 Mixed Pepper plants
  • 2 Onion bulbs
  • 1 Mint
  • 1 Basil
  • We are trying to grow Oregano from actual seeds and have them started in an egg carton
    Urban Garden

    Balcony Urban Garden

    A few of the plants didn’t make the transition as we had 87 degrees one day.

    Our next goals are to start a compost bin and add a self-watering system.

    Did you plant a garden this spring or have a desire to start an urban garden? 

I hope our urban garden will save us money with fresh produce.

This year with a bit of our tax money, we’ll going to invest in a small urban garden. Our premise is that it will save us a lot of money on basic vegetables and herbs that we buy almost weekly. Are we being frugal or just fooling ourselves into another hobby?

An Urban Gardening Experiment

1) Will our urban garden make a profit or will it turn out to be a hobby? We’ll have to invest a bit into seeds, dirt, material, etc. to get the balcony garden going. We’ll also have to add a bit of money occasionally for maintenance.

2) This will be an experiment of sheer gardening will. Can we make it grow? I’m pretty much a city slicker and worked in my grandparent’s garden in the summer as a kid. My wife grew up on a ranch, so she’s been around gardening a bit too. Recently, we don’t have much experience besides an occasional house plant.

How to Begin an Urban Vegetable Garden

What to grow? We’ll start small and begin with plants that are easy and that we use on a regular basis. In consideration for our herb garden are basic herbs like mint, basil, oregano, and parsley.

Possible candidates for our vegetable garden are things we use a lot of: sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, squash, and peppers. Any other ideas?  

Our space is limited as the garden will be on our balcony. Also, the plants can’t be seen from the street, so they’ll have to be short–No corn stalks!

Supplies. We’re going this week to get our starter plants and supplies. I really have no idea what to get beyond dirt and seeds. My wife wants to start composting, so we’ll get a good airtight bucket for that.

I’ll have an occasional post and pictures about our urban gardening experiment and hopefully how it is saving us a ton of money. If there is a bumper crop, we hope to do a bit of canning also.

Any urban gardeners out there? Please feel free to give your tips or opinions on gardening.

Photo Credit:  gail m tang (Creative Commons)