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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was buying seeds for another planting of corn and beans when I got to thinking: is this why so many people say that gardening is not profitable? Because of a radically different approach?

Consider this: I buy inexpensive seeds locally, and of proven varieties. I usually get good germination, and I spend less on good-quality seeds. I stagger my plantings, and every several days I get something into the ground. I must have planted corn 4 times, and I will plant more! I will get fresh corn- probably 12 dozen ears- over a long period of time. The family will eat most fresh, though if we fall behind in the eating then I will freeze some.

Cost is $4, mostly for the seeds. I scatter a little fertilizer left over from last year but mostly I fertilize with chicken poop, thinly scattered. Return is about 12 dozen ears, or $48. It was a wet year so I do not think that I watered the corn at all. Bug control will be a little baby oil in the silks, applied twice.

..............

ANOTHER person might buy the best seeds by mail order, with shipping and handling added in it can cost $5 a pack or about $15 total. If the seeds are planted mostly at once then he will get more than his family can eat fresh, and so he buys a pressure canner for $100 and jars at $12 a case and he starts canning. He sprays the corn silks with BT ($10?) to keep the green worms out, buys a tiller for $600, and after his family has eaten their fill of sweet corn he cans up the excess and gets perhaps 20 pints canned.

And, instead of depreciating the cost of the canner and the tiller over 10 years time, he sees that his outlay was $749 and he got 20 pints of sweet corn as a return. For that matter, even if he did depreciate he sees that his expenses were $73 for a few meals of corn and 20 pints for the winter.

"Gardening is very expensive", he concludes! But, it doesn't have to be. The time to buy equipment is when hand tools will not serve, and the time to buy canning equipment is when you have enough food to preserve to justify it. If the second gardener had had 200 jars worth of produce to put up instead of 20, he would have saved money on the deal.


I have heard often enough that the main point of raising your own is to know what went into it: this is a very valid statement! But, raising your own can be profitable as well!

I realize that this is an oversimplification. I did not figure in the cost of a shovel or hoeand most years I do water some. I even buy fertilizer now and then! But, on the whole I think that it is very true that you do not have to spend a lot of money on gardening, unless you want to!

And, I realize that frozen corn will be ruined if power is lost. But, since I must watch the budget, I am delaying the purchase of a pressure canner and I will buy the canned corn. I will probably root cellar sweet potatos and winter squash, if the yield is good.

Yes, equipment for the garden is a very handy thing, but, a person does not HAVE to spend a lot of money gardening!!!!!!!
 

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I also like to buy tools that will do double duty. That way you get more for your money and you don't feel bad because you bought it to do "just" that. Also like Kansas Terry said you need look at it over time and not just the immediate year. Other wise my garden stuff would be quite expensive after buying my tractor.
 

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Gardening isn't profitable when you factor the time you put into it.

Turning soil over, planting, weeding, watering, buying seeds/tools, composting, dealing with pests, and harvesting are all very time consuming when you compare that with the ease of simply going to the store to buy what you need. No comparison.

But as a city dweller, the reason I have a garden are two fold: you can't beat the taste of home grow vegtables/fruits and as a survivalist I realize how important having a garden and refining my gardening skills will be post SHTF.

So I MAKE the time to garden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Gardening isn't profitable when you factor the time you put into it.
Heh, heh.:D:

My doctor told me to exercize more, and he recommended an inexpensive gym. Instead I planted a bigger garden, so that means that I saved myself an additional $600.:D: What a deal!!!!!!!

Otherwise, no gardening isn't more profitable if you consider labor. Assuming that gardening would cut into your hours at work, that is.

One gent wrote that when his time farming was worth not very much money, he changed his own oil to save money. Skipping an hour of farm work was less expensive than paying to have the oil changed.

But, once his farm became much more profitable, then it became cheaper to have somebody else change his oil, which freed him for more of the farm work that he preferred. With a more profitable farm, I believe that he said that one hour of his work would have paid for 4 hours of the mechanics work, and that it did not take a mechanic 4 hours to change the oil. So, in the end, he got more money if he paid the mechanic to do the oil change.
 

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I agree with the OP.

Gardening certainly is profitable even when you consider your time. I grow plants in beds, so weeds are not a problem (one main weed at about 4 - 6 weeks after planting and that's it.) The work?

What, 2 - 3 hrs tilling a bed. 2 hrs planting that bed. 2 hrs weeding that bed. Watering done by a sprinkler.

so six or seven hours of work to get 100 corn plants, being about 200 ears of corn. over here they're NZ$1 a cob. Frozen you are paying $3 or $4 for 2 1/2 cobs cut up into small pieces.

Freezing: I peel it, break cobs in half and freeze as is in plastic bags. I do not bottle (can) it. I do not blanch it. It comes back better than bought frozen corn - it comes back like fresh.

people say gardening is expensive who do not wish to do gardening - or else who want to spend a fortune creating raised beds with bought topsoil or planting mixes!!!! because some silly book told them to - so the first year they have no weeds but as time goes by and birds fly past and the wind blows they get all this seed they feel robbed about and decide it's all too hard and realise they've created a 4 x 6 bed and have only grown five lettuces and one tomato for a cost of $250.

Gardening if treated as a hobby costs a fortune. Gardening if treated as a way of getting food for almost nothing in your free time, and if you maintain a good garden it does not take much work, is very very inexpensive. Even including your time.

People who are out there tilling every day are doing it wrong.
 

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Cost? Am I supose to keep buying my seeds? Ohh I missed that part. I just keep using what I get from our garden year after year now.As for time when I turned 44 I retired got tired of paying for lazy people so now I have pleanty of time im between hunting and fishing so no issues. Its like alot of other things I do. If you do it right and learn what your doing you get to enjoy it more.
 

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You only have a few possible costs: SEED, FERTILIZER, PESTICIDES, FUEL, WATER, LABOR, EQUIPMENT

SEED costs are negated if you save your own from year to year. You could actually save more than you need and sell the excess seed in small packs at the farmers market.

FERTILIZER costs are negated if you use your own animal's manure or rotate crops with legume plantings in between.

PESTICIDE costs are negated if you find the right varieties for your are and rotate crops to keep bugs from multiplying year after year in a certain spot.

FUEL is money well spent, but you can always reduce the amount of fuel or gas used if you maintain a seedbed. Our hard clay here will set up like concrete if I don't till it in the fall or plant a cover crop like winter wheat. Equipment can be a big factor there too, we can till more for less fuel with a 30 hp tractor than a rear tine 8 hp tiller.

WATER is something that we have to pay for at the moment. If it's a drought summer here we spend $50 a month on water for the gardens. A rain water catchment would save us quite a bit of money in the long run.

LABOR is something I can't consider in my garden because I do it all myself and enjoy every minute of it. For big farms labor is a real expense, but their massive machines do most of their work...

EQUIPMENT can save you money in the long run and quite a bit of time. If you buy the right equipment, it could last you a lifetime and hold it's value for many years. Our small 30 hp tractor and tiller cost us around $10,000, but I look at it as an investment. We can till 5 foot swaths every pass and get an acre tilled and planted in a single day, or attach the brush hog and mow or use the loader to move dirt or manure. If I wanted to get serious I could make quite a bit of money with it, an acre of mixed crops would sell pretty high at the local farmers market. On top of that, I picked a tractor that would hold it's value! A friend of mine bought a brand new Deere in 1989 that is right now worth more than he paid for it, so if times got tough I could always sell the tractor and get most or all of my money back. Not to mention tilling other people's gardens for them for a small fee.
 

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Homesteader / Workershare
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I started with a shovel and some seeds.

I think many people make it expensive when it doesn't have to be. I see sooooooo many people spending hundreds just building a single raised bed with expensive lumber, trucks of soil and compost, additional fancy add-ins and fertilizers, and store bought starts even though there's perfectly good soil under their feet and heirloom seeds at the dollar store.
 

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I've always suggested simpler is better in farming.
Start from seed, grow on the ground, and hand harvest only when ripe.
For a small home operation, this method can give a large return in harvest with minimal costs.
Time and ambition is what you will really need.

I always tell anyone who is beginning to farm to choose five favorite veggies and grow only those. I've discovered that a new farmer will become hooked once they see their favorite fives unfold before their eyes!
Usually for the second year effort they are deep in it!

I remember once helping a single mom start out her garden. She was a tomato and cucumber nut, so I helped her sow seeds and gave advice along the way.
Later on in the summertime, she invited me over for a BBQ. One of her friends saw her big, red, beautiful tomatoes sitting on a platter ready for slicing and said, "these are beautiful, but I'm sure they are because they have wax." She quickly, and with a big grin on her face said, "I'm positive they do not have wax, I grew them myself." Seeing the huge grin on her face I knew right there and then, she was hooked on gardening.
Keeping it simple and inexpensive makes the produce seem to taste even better...
 

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Gardening expensive?
A round of golf cost $100. at the local club.
Hunting and fishing can cost a kings ransom.
Gardening is a healthy hobby and my frends, neighbors and family love the excess the we cain't use. An hour with a hoe is more rewarding than hour at the health club.
 

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My urban garden is a work in progress. At each step, I answer one question and ask 10 more. And, in the end, most are related to the most economical use of my limited space (this is my biggest challenge), time and money.

My primary question (still not completely answered)is, "What crops can give me the most bang for my buck with my limited space?" This is a tough question because I'm not sure what yardstick to use to measure "bang." The total amount produced or amount/yard space. The number of calories? The money saved by not purchasing the food at the grocery? The desirability? Ease of growth?

Two crops that were already in place before I started prepping in January 2011 - strawberries and raspberries - seem like keepers. Both were purchased from a commercial wholesaler -Daisy Farms - and seem to be very hardy.

I planted the strawberries as groundcover in my front flower bed two years ago. This year has been the first big harvest - 27 quart. Seems like it has been a great use of space with minimal time and money for a crop we love. We ate about 1/2 of the strawberries fresh, and I froze the rest. I've been reading up at Strawberryplants.org on how to transplant the runners. I'd like to start a second and/or third bed in the back yard. This would allow me to always have at least 1 highly productive bed without ever purchasing new strawberry plants.

The raspberry plants were also put in two years ago. Last year, we got a tiny harvest of giant-sized raspberries. This year's harvest looked to be much improved. Although I remember the wild raspberries from my childhood as being dense brambles, the ones from the commercial grower have a few very thick and very long branches. My husband helped me make/attach some wooden squares to drape/tie the branches high off the ground (see pic below). This makes them easier to harvest and frees up lots of space for planting other crops. I planted some onions about a month ago; they don't seem happy. I'm going to try spinach/lettuce next and perhaps use this as a second bed for the strawberries. Like the strawberries, the raspberry plants have not required much time or money and (cross your fingers) will provide a bounty of fruit we really enjoy. In addition to eating fresh, I'm planning to follow the guidance of a fellow member,Coached (her post is here) and dry some of the raspberries.





One of the nice (and unplanned) benefits of growing these two crops is continuity of supply. I harvested the tail end of the strawberries last week, just as the first raspberries were beginning to ripen.

We'll never be self-sustaining, but we can use the small amount of yard around our house to grow healthful food with a very reasonable input of time and money.
 

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We'll never be self-sustaining, but we can use the small amount of yard around our house to grow healthful food with a very reasonable input of time and money.
I'd love to see more photos of your garden. It looks great! I think fruit crops might be the best bang for the buck. We planted blueberries this spring and actually got several pints in the first year! I hadn't expected that. My wife even wants me to plant more. Raspberries are good producers as are the strawberries. Do you have room for maybe 3 dwarf apple trees? Summer squash, melons and tomatoes are the usual suspects in production as well.
 

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Prepared Firebird
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Like many things, start-up costs for gardening can get expensive. And, there is no question that gardening is time-consuming and labor-intensive. There are a lot of good books available on the subject of gardening. But, those can get expensive to buy for a home library, too.

The best way is to start small, with a little garden consisting of a few types of different plants that you know you like to eat and will be able to maintain. Then, expand your garden a bit with each succeeding year. (An excellent post on this is already contained in this thread......No. 10.)

With each year that passes, you will learn from experience and get better at gardening. It also takes time to learn what your garden area will.....and will not.....do for you. But, it would be hard to find a project that offers more rewards than learning to be a good gardener.
 

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What a great thread...
$ is very tight now for us, but I have got to garden. This year I am trying to spend as little as possible and plan to spend nothing next year. My rabbits produce fertilizer, we compost, I use grass clippings for mulch, I built trellises out of recycled materials and fallen tree branches. I bought seeds this year, but am seed saving this year. The best investment was cheap PVC pipe and fabric to make floating row covers, a grow light and a heat mat. As more people turn to gardening you bet there are going to be all sorts of stuff stores want to sell you.
 
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