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How Much is a Garden Worth?

By: Steve Johnson

5/13/2008 - 59 Comments

Yesterday, I began planting our garden and as I was planting, I was wondering how much money our gardening is actually worth.

With food prices jumping to new highs this year, gardening is a simple method to reduce your food expenses – especially if you have growing kids that eat all day like I do.

I have been gardening for 10 years and have learned what works and what does not in my area.  Not everyone lives in a part of the nation that is easy to grow a garden, but I live in Minnesota and take full advantage of the rich soil and good rains to grow my garden.

Our garden has a variety of foods, including,

  • Onion
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes

And we also have some annual foods that grow each year, like,

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Grapes

How much do you save each year?

Last year our family of four spent $431 per month on food.  My estimate is that we save about $220 per month by eating our garden food, which comes to $220 x 12 months =$2640 per year.   If I had to earn this money and pay income tax, SS and Medicade then I would need to make $2640 x 25% = $3300. Our garden saves us $3300 per year. If food prices increase by 20% next year, we will save $3960.

What is the value per square foot?

Our garden is 12x35= 420 square feet.  If I calculate the value of each square foot, each square foot is worth $3300 / 420sq = $7.85 per square foot.  This is interesting because when I expand the garden, I know how much money it will be worth.  This year I expanded the garden by 4 foot, which is worth 4x12 = 48sq x $7.85 = $376.80.

What are your earnings per hour?

Another interesting figure is how much money is our gardening worth per hour.  To calculate this, I need to add all the hours that we invest into the garden divided by the money we save by eating our garden food.  We spend about 20 hours getting the garden ready (tilling, raking, cleaning) and about 30 hours planting seeds and about 40 hours watering and weeding throughout the summer, and finally about 30 hours harvesting (picking, cleaning, storing).

The total comes to 20x30x40x30 = 120 hours. Therefore, we are earning about $3300 / 120 hours = $27.5 dollars per hour. If food prices increase by 20% next year, we will be earning $33 per hour.

What about other expenses and benefits?

There are other expenses like buying the seeds, rakes, shovels, etc. and paying for the water.  But there are also other benefits to gardening like exercise, which can save $30/month on a membership to a gym.  And what about the saving in health care costs, from eating healthier.  The healthier eating could save our family thousands of dollars if we avoid things like high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.  I left these miscellaneous expenses and benefits out of the calculations because they are hard to quantify. 

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Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times

The decline of cheap oil is inspiring an increasing number of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering. This book shows any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs.

The Vegetable Gardener's Bible

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The Millionaire Next Door

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Financial Peace Revisited

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