How Feasible Are Those ‘Save Money’ Ideas? Part 4 – Eating From the Garden

February 11, 2015

Gardening is very popular these days. However, most people I know spend more money on their gardens than they would if they bought the food at the store. Afterall, whether you use a tractor, a tiller, or raised boxes, gardening can be pretty expensive.

All of the old farmer/gardeners I know say it really isn’t worth gardening anymore because it costs so much…and you can’t produce anything anyway without spraying. This makes me so sad because I know that you can!

When I first saw the Back to Eden Film, I told them of my findings. They shook their heads at the young city girl and went about their ways. Only the ones who have seen us garden this way for the past 2.5 years have stopped shaking their heads.

That’s okay. I understand. It’s hard to wrap your head around a ‘new’ way of doing things (though, there is nothing new about growing food with a cover, as far as nature goes).

So how do we eat from the garden, organically, AND stay in the black?

We garden the Back to Eden way!

I’ll start with what we have spent money on:

Chickens

  • Coop – $1,000 (we’ve never built anything so this was mainly tools bought)
  • Chickens – $60
  • Netting/fencing – $100
  • Feed – $400/yr

Garden

  • seeds – $75/year (including seed potatoes)
  • trees – about $50/year
  • hoops – $50
  • netting – $20/year

How on earth can we be in the black with all of those high expenses?

Keep in mind the typical things we do NOT spend money on:

  • tractor, gas, & upkeep
  • tiller, gas, & upkeep
  • boxes
  • sprays (organic or not, I do not ever spray anything)

Here is a breakdown of how we make back the money we spent upfront, and beyond!

Again, starting with chickens:

This is the first year we are keeping track of egg production. In January, we got just over 60. It is not quite mid-February and we have surpassed our January total by far. Looking back at comments I made on my blog last year, egg production continues to increase until March. It stays steady until mid/late summer…plummets during moulting, rises again when moulting is over, and decreases again as daylight hours decrease. Taking all of this into account, I estimate we get around 330 dozen eggs/year (20 chickens).

I would not call our chickens ‘free range’. They are fenced in because we have a number of hawks and foxes around us. However

  • Their coop is open no less than 12hrs each day (longer when daylight hours increase)
  • Their run is larger than most suburban front and backyards combined
  • They are allowed to free range (supervised) twice a day for a couple of hours (depending on how much trouble they get into).

That being said, I have no problem saying our eggs would cost (conservatively) $3.00/dozen if we were selling them. That adds up to $990/year. One year of production just about pays for the coop.

We are also trying to hatch our own chicks this year so we will not need to pay for more chicks in the years to come. Though we may need another coop…hmm…like making gravy 😉

The main reason we got the chickens, however, was to be our fertilizer producer! I do not spray my plants but every fall/winter, I cover my garden in chicken poop. The rain/snow falls over the winter, the ground gets compost tea, and the soil is ready to be planted in the spring! That is priceless! 🙂© Nieto Photography - Nietophotography.com - 919.495.5916 - Christopher Nieto DSC_6222 DSC_6112DSC_6216On to fruit:

In the winter, when we do not have any fruit, we spend about $30/week on fresh fruit at the store. In the summer and fall (a little bit in the spring), we do not spend any money on fruit. We eat strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, and (this year) cherry tomatoes from the garden. So, 23 weeks of fruit from the garden = $690 in savings.DSC_4752Our fruit also provides jelly for us throughout the year. When we bought jelly, we bought Polaner’s because it was the only kind we could find without some type of sugar. I make my jelly with just fruit and flaxseed. Making our own jelly from our own fruit saves us about $300/year.Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0011Vegetables:

  • Our salads are all free ($180/year). This includes spinach, kale, lettuce, and coleslaw (cabbage).
  • Root veggies (onions, carrots, beets) we eat from our garden save us about $150/year.
  • Corn, broccoli, peas, and green beans (I used to buy these frozen) save us about $60/year.
  • Tomatoes (fresh, in soups, and marinara sauce) save us quite a bit. – about $250/year.
  • Garden potatoes and sweet potatoes save us about $250/year.
  • Butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkins saves us about $150/year.
  • Cucumbers & summer squash save us about $140/year.

DSC_4567 Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0004 DSC_4619 _DSC6093 DSC_4735 DSC_4810 Nieto Family - July 26 14 - 0061 DSC_5013 DSC_5087 Nieto Family - August 26 14 - 0009 DSC_5488 DSC_5720 DSC_5861 DSC_6137 © Nieto Photography - Nietophotography.com - 919.495.5916 - Christopher NietoAll said, gardening the Back to Eden way, we spend about $150/year and ‘make’/save over $2,000 in organic, sustainable produce. We spent about $1500 on the chickens the first year (about $500/year after that) and make about $1,000/year once they start producing.

Gardening with a cover, the way God does in nature, is

  • good for the soil!
  • good for the plants!
  • good for our bodies!
  • good for the pocketbook!

Growing your own food takes a lot of time no matter how you do it. However, the time most gardeners spend tilling and weeding, I am spending expanding! I love the fact that I am feeding my family cheaply and organically. I want us to only go to the store for oils, toilet paper…things I cannot grow 🙂

More than that, I want to feed our neighbors! Many who are close to us are sick. I know eating organic, mineral-rich fruits and veggies could help heal their bodies. I want to be able to provide them with these foods! This is my desire.

Do you garden? Do you find it disheartening, what with the time and money spent fighting weeds and bugs? Please watch The Back to Eden Film! Grow things the way God does! It has been such a blessing to my family.

One more post on saving money later this week! I hope you have gotten some ideas and these posts have helped you see whether or not these ways of saving money could work for your family.

I am linking up with Simple Lives Thursday so others can see this great ‘new’ way to garden & how it really works!

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4 thoughts on “How Feasible Are Those ‘Save Money’ Ideas? Part 4 – Eating From the Garden

  1. daphnegould

    I do a very detailed cost analysis of my garden each year. I started because of that $64 tomato book (which I didn’t read but heard about) and on the other side Burpee saying you could spend $25 in seeds and get $1000 in veggies back. I thought they were both very wrong. Gardening costs more than the seeds. But a tomato doesn’t have to cost $64. I do have raised beds (cedar) and I do buy things to make my garden prettier at times as I live in the city. But I’ve found that if I’m the most conservative in my estimates (the cheapest nonorganic veggies I can find as the bar) then I do a bit better than breaking even, even with the expensive raised beds. If I look at what I would actually buy (IPM food from the farmers market) then I’m way way ahead in monetary value. Last year was $1400 in the black by that method of accounting. But of course I don’t garden for the cost savings. I garden because I love it. I’d do it even if it did cost me money. I’m just happy it doesn’t.

    Reply
    1. newbiegardengirl Post author

      mine is not detailed but i tried to estimate low. it’s our fruit that really pays us back. those blueberry bushes were a christmas present 8 years ago. MAN, they have really blessed us! yay for MILs 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jeff

    You really have done a fantastic job to harvested so much and saved so much money.
    You’re right, many people spend more on their gardens than if they purchased all their food.
    From my perspective one main challenge is to garden frugally and stay well in the black.
    Which is not always easy, with all the pests to deal with

    Reply
  3. Pingback: How Feasible Are Those ‘Money Saving’ Ideas? – Part 5 | Gardening Without…

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