a mix of vegetable plants

A mixed vegetable garden. Photo Credit: eXtension.org.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your spring vegetable garden.  Have you ever wondered how much it costs to grow your own vegetables?  Does it cost less to grow your own vegetables or buy them from the grocery store or farmers market?  A number of factors are involved with answering these questions and budgeting for your home garden.

Materials

The materials used are specific to your own vegetable garden.  If you do everything by hand you may need a hoe, rake, and spade along with a number of other tools you can use from year to year.  When budgeting for you garden you would need to think about the life expectancy of these tools.  Let’s say a $20 rake lasts for 10 years.  In that case, you would budget $2/year ($20 ÷ 10 years = $2/year) for the rake.  This might also be the case with a bag of fertilizer.  You may buy a 50 pound bag of fertilizer and use half the bag in year one and the other half in year two, so the cost of the fertilizer would be cut in half for your yearly budget.  Other materials may be purchased for just one growing season such as pine straw for weed suppression or you may buy only enough seeds for the season.

Labor

A lot of work goes into growing your own vegetables.  If you have the time and enjoy gardening then you may choose to charge yourself nothing for your work.  However, from a cost analysis perspective you may want to put a value on your work.  This will give you a better comparison to buying vegetables.

Budgets

Of course you could create your own budget based on all the costs that go into gardening.  But why do that, when it’s already been done for you.  The UF/IFAS Costs and Benefits of Vegetable Gardening publication includes a Microsoft Excel Cost Workbook to help answer some of these cost questions.  This budget template is customizable, so it’s important that you consider all the costs for your vegetable garden.  If you are looking for more detailed crop budgets, there are a lot of North Florida Enterprise Budgets available from UF/IFAS.