Organic/ Local Too Expensive? Grow Your Own!

If your budget is shrinking as gas prices soar, the cost of organic fruits and veggies might make you gasp. My morning paper today featured an article on how to save money in this tight economy. One of the smart suggestions was to grow your own vegetables, something Steve and I have been doing each year since we bought our home three years ago. Curious, I decided to calculate how much we are actually saving by what we grow ourselves. The dollar values are based on today’s prices for organic vegetables at our local New Seasons supermarket.

Blueberries – 15 pints @ 3.99 = $59.85
Strawberries – 2 pints @ 3.99 = $7.98
Garlic – 12 heads @ 0.75 = $9
Lettuce – 10 heads @1.99 = $19.90
Sugar snap peas – 10 pounds @ 4.99 = $49.90
Tomatoes – 10 pounds @ 4.99 = $49.90
Tomatillos – 5 pounds @ 4.99 = $24.95
Potatoes – 3 pounds @ 1.49 = $4.47
Onions – 3 pounds @ 1.19 = $3.57
Leeks – 3 pounds @ 2.49 = $7.47
Rhubarb – 2 pounds @ 2.99 = $5.98
Green peppers – 15 @ 1.50 each = $22.5
Red peppers – 5 @ 2.50 each = $12.50
Habanero peppers – 25 @ 0.75 each = $18.75
Cucumbers – 15 @ 1.49 each = $22.35
Cilantro – 10 bunches @ 1.29 each = $12.90
Spinach – 5 pounds @ 1.79 = $8.95
Chives – 5 bunches @ $1.19 = $5.95
Parsley – 5 bunches @ 1.49 = $7.45
Basil – 10 bunches @2.99=$29.90
Rosemary – infinite (we have a huge bush) but we probably use about $5 worth in a year

Grand Total Value of Our Organic Vegetable Garden = $389.22

Wow! I was truly shocked at this total, especially when you see in the picture above that we have a very small vegetable garden. Besides the garden box in the picture we plant a few things in the beds around the yard but it’s still a very small space. The upfront cost for seeds and starts was less than $50 and, besides planting, watering, light weeding and picking there is very little work involved for the return. I was also impressed that tomatoes, peas, peppers and berries generate the most savings based on their high cost in stores.

It’s not too late to plant your own veggies for this year. I’m about to plant spinach for a fall harvest. Many vegetables such as broccoli and garlic winter well. Depending on where you are in the US you can still plant quite a few summer/ fall vegetables through June. For those living in Oregon, OSU has a great guide online to when to plant your vegetables. Even if you don’t have a yard you can plant a few veggies in containers such as tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. As my calculations showed, even a small amount of veggies can add up to a lot of money saved. Now I’m starting to wonder what other parts of our yard we can turn into vegetable garden and save even more money!



  1. Laurence said,

    June 27, 2008 at 12:16 pm


    This is an excellent and enlightening article and needed to be written – thank you.


  2. Karin said,

    June 27, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks posting this article! Confirms my crazy idea to plant a small garden also this year. This confirms my effort and small investment in seeds, starters, cages, and a soaker hose was worth it. Although after looking at yours I may need you come looking at mine for space planning ideas!

    I was also looking for a NW website that recommends what month to plant what veggie. Thanks for all the good info!


  3. donna said,

    July 2, 2008 at 11:38 am

    I have been thinking about planting my own garden. Organics are not available around here without having to drive into a larger city. I would like to know what type of materials you used to build your raised beds, especially the metal or plastic pieces that are at each corner of the bed holding the wood slats.
    Thanks for your help on this!

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