How Much is Your Backyard Garden Worth?
Growing fruits and veggies of your own is first and foremost a passion; one that can be passed down by generations and be a source of bonding for families. Secondly, it’s a great convenience for fresh, healthy and organic produce. But often forgotten is how growing even a little bit in your backyard, front yard or balcony can save you money.
For many people, the thought of growing food and saving money is a plus in any year. Then there are years like 2020 where global economic events like the COVID-19 pandemic bring new people to gardening, and give seasoned growers extra perspective on their efforts. To be clear, I’m not talking about being fully sustainable and growing enough to eat fresh and preserve for 12 months. I’m not even going as far as fence-to-fence backyard gardens or considering growers who use poly tunnel systems to create mini-greenhouses that extend the growing seasons. Even just a small garden–like the best-selling 4 x 8 ft raised bed– full of a few of your favourites, can have a bigger impact on your wallet than you think. This turns what might seem like a burden of work, into something with even more value than you ever thought.
So, let’s try and answer the question of “How Much is Your Backyard Garden Worth?”. To start, a few considerations for the exercise, then read on for example garden plans and their outputs:
- Growing in a single raised bed garden (32 sq ft) or small in-ground plot (50 sq ft) separated by a walking path between rows
- A garden with a 5-6 month (e.g. May to October) growing season like we get in Southern Ontario, Quebec and the northern U.S.
- Using approximate prices of organic produce available from your local farmers markets or grocery stores
- Planting density and yields of individual gardens can differ, but for this purpose let’s go conservative with the output
Leafy Green Lover
For those who like their salads and smoothies this garden can grow approximately 25 plants of lettuce, spinach, kale or chard at a time. Since greens are cool weather crops and fast-growing, this bed can be planted three times each year. That means 75 heads or bunches at around $4 per for a total of $300. BONUS: Round out that salad and put more green in your pocket by interplanting with onions, garlic or radishes.
A starter, Italian-style garden of this size would have six tomato plants and six cucumber plants. Organic, heirloom tomato plants should give about 8lbs of fruit each at $5/lb. Every cucumber plant yields approximately 8 fruits, which run at about $3 each. That’s a garden total of $388. BONUS: There will still be space to plant herbs, such as basil. This will improve the output and flavour of tomatoes while adding another $40 to your basket.
Think of your garden space both along the soil and above, by planting pole beans and zucchini. Beans will climb up stakes or trellises so can be spaced just 6 inches apart for approximately 24 total plants. Zucchini are low but the leaves spread 3 to 4 feet wide, so only two would be planted. Green beans sell for around $4/lb and each plant will give 4 lb. Zucchini plants are vigorous and between the two expect 20 lb of fruit worth $3/lb. Add it up and that’s $444 of produce ready to pick from July through October.
Garden beds produce fruit just as well as they do veggies and berries are an ideal choice. Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are bushes which can take a year or two to produce well, so for this example we’ll use sixteen strawberry plants. Select an everbearing variety–like these Seascape ones from Burpee which are found in my garden–to get a flush of fruit in both late Spring and Fall, for a total of 4 lb per plant. You’re likely paying $4/lb for local, organic strawberries so that’s $256 growing in your yard. BONUS: Strawberries are a spreading perennial–meaning they grow back each spring–so this garden is planted once and enjoyed for years.
They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but now you can see how it can grow on stalks, vines and bushes. Want to start a garden of your own? Maybe you have a garden but aren’t getting the most out of it? The Young Nonno can help with garden installations and services – send a message today!