Is it cost effective to grow your own organic vegetables?
I love vegetables and especially freshly picked ones, which are some of the freshest sweetest vegetables I have ever tasted. I am also a big fan of organic food, which can be quite expensive in the shops, so this year we are going to grow as many organic vegetables as we can and try not to buy any from the shops – the question is whether or not we will save ourselves any money in the process?
We are starting entirely from scratch – my husband has built two 4 ft by 6 ft wide wooden edged raised beds on a plot outside our kitchen. The plot had been filled with stones, so we emptied the stones out and then filled it with an organic compost blend perfect for veg plots. We have bought a whole load of organic seeds online and have started planting them in pots inside to get them started.
So far the project has cost us:
£50 for compost (we actually spent £100 but we bought it in bulk and could have filled our plots twice over with it. We are storing the rest for use in future years.)
£60 for wood for the raised beds
£50 for veg seeds (including an oyster mushroom kit)
£0 for equipment to chop wood and labour to make the raised beds (already owned/ done by my husband)
£0 for pots (already owned/ saving egg cartons for planting seeds in)
Total: £160 I usually spend around £10 a week on vegetables for my family of four, so we would need to not buy any veg for 16 weeks which is around 3-4 months worth of veg to make our money back this year – I’m not counting on it this year, but I’m hoping we will in future years by learning to do the following things:
- Use organic pest control methods such as mixed planting and using egg shells to deter slugs.
- Make our own compost
- Save seeds for use the next year / attend seed swapping events
- Stagger the planting and use early, main and late varieties of seeds so that the growing season is extended for as long as possible
- Store vegetables for use in the winter – this could involve drying them out – e.g. onions and potatoes or pickling them e.g. cucumbers or turning them into stocks, soups and sauces to be stored in the freezer e.g. vegetable stock, leek and potato soup or tomato sauce.
Next year we won’t need to spend any money on making the raised beds and we won’t use nearly as much of the compost we bought. We may need to spend some money on seeds still though and it may take some years to become cost effective. My worries are, that we will get gluts of vegetables that we won’t know what to do with and we will still have to buy veg from the shops in between times. Plus there is the possibility of the plants being infected with pests and diseases.
We won’t really know until after this summer at least and possibly next summer whether it will save us money in the long run. If nothing else though, it will be great to eat fresh veggies straight out of our garden and bring our kids up knowing where vegetables come from!
We have had a little experience of growing veg in the past, but I think we still have a lot to learn and any hints, tips and tricks for organic vegetable growing are greatly welcomed below!
Also I would love to hear your thoughts on whether it is cost effective to grow your own organic vegetables.