How do you save money with gardening?

A couple years ago I posed this question: Does gardening really save money? It seems like every time you read a magazine article about saving money on groceries, the author suggests planting a garden. To be honest, I’m sure we’ve suggested it a time or two on this very site. It’s a no-brainer, right? Food from the store costs big bucks. Food from the backyard or balcony is FREE!

My garden (not this year’s)

Well . . . I’ve remained skeptical about this. My start-up costs for my first year of gardening outweighed the amount of produce I ended up harvesting. While it’s certainly possible to throw some seeds in the ground and wake up to a fresh crop of gourmet lettuce a few weeks later, the reality of gardening seems more complicated than that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if you enjoy gardening, it’s a great way to spend your time (and money). I continue gardening because even if I don’t break even, I like spending my time outside in the sun (and rain), working compost into the soil with my bare hands, watching my basil plants spring to life. (Or die miserably under the slime of a thousand slugs.) But if you’re in it just for the magical money-saving benefits you hope to enjoy, you may wind up disappointed.

One crop that usually pays for itself: tomatoes

Gardeners of the world: Does this pastime save you big bucks? Or are you in it for the non-monetary rewards?


  1. I wouldn’t say that gardening saves me big bucks, but it does save me some money after the first year of initial investment. The primary reason I garden is to grow better, fresher produce – tomatoes in particular are so much better from the garden. I also find the process of planting and harvesting really rewarding. As for the money, I do find that at certain times of the year I can go for several weeks at a time without having to buy any vegetables from the store. Now if only I could grow cheese and wine in the garden, I’d save a bundle.

  2. Can you raise a small cow on your community garden plot?

  3. I’ve considered raising livestock, but sadly it’s not allowed. My garden is in a school playground so it would be difficult to conceal.

  4. And I guess your HOA is against letting a goat roam around the common grounds at your condo. Too bad!

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