Gardening Costs: Know before you Grow

Last week, I wrote about using your garden to eat healthy on a budget. Missed it? You can read all about it here. Today, I want to talk about the real costs associated with a garden. Costs to consider when starting a garden include:

  • Cost of plants or seeds
  • Cost to provide nutrient-rich soil (dirt, fertilizer, and worms)
  • Cost to protect and structure plants (cages, coverings, and fences)
  • Cost to water plants
  • Cost of tools and accessories (tiller, gloves, and spade)

Community Gardening Costs

If you start your gardening journey in a community garden, some of these costs will be mitigated. I did a quick on line search of community gardens in the Phoenix Metro Area. Plot prices can go from $80-120 annually. This includes the nutrient dense soil and watering costs. Some community gardens offer tool use and even tool storage, along with a master gardener to answer questions or host garden talks. This is not only a simple way to explore the adventure of gardening and see if it is for you, but you can learn from others and make friends while doing so.

The costs of plants or seeds, protection or structures and tools are all that is left. You can be price conscious when shopping for these items. Plants and seeds can be found on sale or you can ask friends and neighbors to share cuttings or seeds. Last year, I wrote about using seeds gathered from produce you currently have on hand. You can read about it here.

Protection and structures, along with tools can either be found on sale, at garage sales or even found items. Is someone in your neighborhood throwing out wood posts left over from a project? That might be just right for the climbing plants you planted. When you are working with a budget, you need to be creative and think outside the box with how to use items in another way.

Community Gardening Benefits

The benefits of gardening at a community garden include all the benefits of gardening in your backyard. These benefits include fresh produce and a day well spent with your hands in the dirt. Fruits and vegetables gradually lose nutrients after harvest. A vegetable harvested from your garden and eaten the same day will have higher nutritional content than an identical vegetable that has spent several days or weeks sitting in storage, transport, and store displays. There are many studies that have documented the positive effects of gardening on physical and mental well being. And any teacher will tell you, including this one, that when kids participate in gardening they are more likely to eat their vegetables.  Community gardening adds the ‘community’ element that also positively impacts our mental health. We need people as much as we need fresh fruits and vegetables.

Final Thoughts on Gardening Costs

This article may seem like I am a big proponent of Community Gardening. I wouldn’t say that I am and I wouldn’t say that I am not. I would say that gardening can be expensive. Between creating beds and filling them with nutrient dense soil to the watering and maintenance, tools and structure costs you really need to know that you will enjoy gardening before you commit the money needed. Now the beds and soil cost will be amortized over time, tools too! Seeds can be if you harvest from current produce, but water costs will be incurred every year. Gardening is not without risk.  Bugs, a streak of unseasonable weather, or other nature-related problem, may wreak havoc on your garden. But for most gardeners, the return on investment pays off. So I do suggest community gardening as a way to ease into this wonderful adventure that will save you money in the long run.