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I've been challenged

Discussing self sufficient and green matters on another board, it's been suggested that a couple of us do a thread the financial side of growing your own as opposed to the commercial side production of fruit and veg.

Hmm - if you only have a garden or allotment that's an interesting one. What say you folks.

I think it will prove intresting.  I looked at this years ago and worked out that compared to what you could buy commercially, there was no point in growing potatoes, onions, carrots or cabbage as I could always buy them cheaper.  Tomatoes, and more exotic or expensive things such as asparagus (which I dont eat) would be cheaper to self produce (in the summer).

Yes I have to agree this would make an excellent project.
However earlier this season I planted potatoes which produced approx' two hundred weight. Considering 2kl (about 5lb ) are now costing 2.00 a bag at the local super markets.
My cost for seed potatoes just under my book for the outlay/return and just a couple of free bags of manure and yes a little effort on my part, its still a win win to grow your own...  

It depends what you want to preserve for the winter also. Tomatoes for passata, various chutneys, jam perhaps.

The only thing that is out in my books is the mushroom as I've never met anyone who has successfully produced these at home.

Mushrooms I have to agree with. however the basics for the average family are still well worth the cost  of buying seed, weather it be potatoes, brassicas or tomatoes.
and of course you are teaching your children ...where their food comes from
Yes I fully or hopefully understand the cost to farmers.
Bringing in labour from where ever adds to the cost as does diesel ,
Washed spuds in bags...

All these will only add to the cost of the average weekly shop for vegetables.

I can only hope my personal point of view has come over...
I could go on forever...

Put it in a pot and grow it.......  

Well the discussion is started. It's going to develop I think. Shall I do the same thing on here or shall I link to the discussion if it develops. Your call admin, moderators and readers.

I think this is going to be an interesting topic , looking forwards to it .

I think its a good idea and I'll start listing my out going expenses from here on in but quite obviously, the taste of home grown produce is way better than shop bought stuff and that doesn't take into account the peace of mind you have knowing that your own stuff is free from ghastly chemicals.
I already have my second hand polytunnel and I don't propose to take that into account when working out expenses.

Costing grow your own

Think this kind of misses the point, the big advantages of growing your own are beyond cost the pleasure of growing, picking and eating something with your own hands that tastes far better than you can buy and is probably better for you too  


100% agree, not only taste but the pleasure of growing your own vegetables, knowing where it all came from, far out ways the monetary cost.
But , it is, in my opinion still a worthwhile project...if only to convince others of the rewards of doing so...

Not putting into the cost of say the G/H, which mine came for free by the way, Buying a second hand poly tunnel, and more importantly what I am now spending on improving the layout and ease of access to the planting beds.

For many years I kept two allotments, other than buying a few bean poles for obvious reasons, hardly ever spent money it was what it was an allotment, which belong to someone else.

I reckon at most to spend 50.00 a year on seeds and other sundries. For that which works out to say 1.00 a week over the year, I can supply at least 50-60% of our vegetables.

Added bonus, the seed circle which we set up on here a few years back, for the price of a stamp, I doubt I spend the estimated 50 quid.

Its not just a hobby to me its become a way of life, which gives me great pleasure.  

Whilst I agree with the whole grow your own thing, and agree that for taste nothing beat it, there is the other side of it.

As a landbased sector teacher Im meeting more and more people who think 'because they see it on the telly' that its going to be a doddle to grow things/make things.  They get cheesed off with the reality of it, and give up.  Ive seen it so many times with allotments and new gardeners.

I think TV has a lot to do with it.  They dont show Monty Don doubledigging the plot for hrs or weeding in the rain (because with most British summer that is the summer).
Growing veg can be quite hard with successes and failures.  This may also be a good point for discussion.

Re: Costing grow your own

Wedgie wrote:
Think this kind of misses the point, the big advantages of growing your own are beyond cost the pleasure of growing, picking and eating something with your own hands that tastes far better than you can buy and is probably better for you too

Now that post hit the nail home, well put.  


I too am a landbased sector teacher recently retired and while I agree that some give up I have seen hundreds of kids over the years plant a few potatoes in the spring care for them over the summer and be absolutely amazed and proud when they are converted into a sackful  to take home in the autumn.

Due to a lack of spare time and the need to cut back on the workload, I gave up my Allotment earlier this year.
We have spent considerably more buying veg than we used to. However, if I were to be honest, being a Culinary Barbarian I can't say that I've noticed any real difference in flavour. I didn't notice any difference when we started growing our own either, so it's got to be something wrong with me rather than the veg......

Would I start growing my own again? well yes, certainly I would, but it's got to be at home. I have a small sloping area at the side of my place which would be very suitable with a little landscaping and some terracing with sleepers......

I see a project on the horizon

Go for it Gwiz.....please do....if you can take pic's before and after...Go for it.. ..

Small patch even a balcony with pots  ....come on its the satisfaction of ...

..."I grew that"....Plus the taste....  

As stated before, the satisfaction I get, the taste? I don't taste it

Yes from seed to plant is great fun be it flowers   or food

I could only agree with the GYO thing   although it's not without its challenges      Oh always said he didn't see the point in growing spuds as they all tasted the same and were plentiful and cheap......up until this year that is.........we've always grown a few   with differing levels of success   but tried some different varieties........the Anya salad potatoes he loved for both texture and taste   I suppose the failures are half the fun........our boys  20 and 21 now....have always loved plucking a few lettuce leaves fresh from the garden.....even they notice the difference. As posted before i'm a bit of a monkey for trawling the seed section at the GC at the end of the season for next years goodies     so the seeds never really cost a lot

The actual challenge was worded as:

"Produce a crop of anything at home where you can clearly demonstrate that the costs of production make it worthwhile when compared to the costs of purchasing the same volume of crop from a supermarket"

It's an offshoot of a discussion on the difference between self sufficiency and green living. Most of those who garden on "the other forum" would go down the route of organic (or as near as possible to) gardening - self sufficiency isn't something that often arises there.

Here I think that self sufficiency would come before green and organic but if the two went in hand I expect we'd all be happy.

Do you want a link to the discussion as it has gone on so far?

Between us (OH and myself) we have two allotments. One reason being we like to grow differnt crops and in different ways. Over the years we have reduced the list of our need to grow crops down to what we actually eat. This includes early potatoes, soft fruit, toms and 'stewpot veg'. Also from this year our decision is coloured by our ability to preserve the crop. I now bottle/can and dehydrate. As I can now do this the list has slightly changed. Being able to preserve changes the costing as it allows for gluts being used efficiently.

Good post and some interesting ideas  

I think that once you have all the required equipment for preservation then you have a whole different view on the costs of produce don't you?

This is really going back a generation to the days when the household did preserve a lot of the gluts for use through the autumn and winter into the next spring. I'm not sure that my children have this ability or even the time and patience. It all comes in a packet from the supermarket.

Christine my grandma used to do the 'whole preserving thing' and I used to help and have many great memories of those days. Her family were farming stock and my earliest memory is going out with my little basket to collect eggs at my Ggrandma's cottage.

I have to admit that the cost of the jars etc has been my main stumbling block. I have been building up my store of jars for a couple of years ..... I normally bring a suitcase load back from the US when I visit my sister - much to their amusement and I buy in France when on holiday. This year has seen me not having to buy veg until march and with the amount I have done this season I hope to start building a store to allow for any misshaps and to give to family (as long as they give the jars back lol).

As you can see this tilts the costings and even allowing for covering the costs of the jars etc it is very much cost effective and I know where everything comes from ...... as we grew them ourselves  

Yep Kat, I too grew up on a farm. My mother inherited Kilner jars and we collected jam jars. The jam pan was worth more than most things in the kitchen I suspect.

Blackberry picking was a seasonal labour - unpaid but done. Apple and pear tree clearing was another major operation. Raspberry and strawberry collecting along with black and red currants. All were preserved along with salting down of the glut of runner beans. We had our own jams through the winter and a lot of fruit for puddings also. Oh I remember the cool apple storing cellar well.

Trouble with the modern bungalow that I live in is that it doesn't have a cool cellar or that much room for preserving. I won't mention the local daughter who went on holiday and unplugged her freezer by mistake. When she and husband returned the entire plum crop had defrosted. Bit of a disaster that. Mind she and hubby were distraught as they lost 20 plum crumbles. But at least we have the containers for next year.  

hi most of you have seen pictures of my gardens and produce but I have to be honest I spend about 250 on plants from the garden centres from march to june I can go out and get the plants at the right time as I want them and they are all good plants I have grown all my plants at one time or another with mixed results and to keep the gas or electric heaters on from January to june alone costs more than the 250 I spend and to work out the financial aspect of what is in fact a hobby it is like asking how much does it cost for you to run your radio controlled motor boat for a season it is priceless but the main outcome is pleasure for which there is no price tag hope this helps    

Know where you are coming from goodlife. There is no easy answer to the question. But a lot of what I grow (leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, runner beans, peas, beetroot, lettuce, broad beans, climbing beans, salad crops) can be grown without the use of heat or greenhouse.

I suspect the only real need for heating is starting off marrows and courgettes in my case and any sunny window ledge suits that task.

So your answer suits you and I have adapted what I do to suit me.   As do most gardeners - unless their gaffer says otherwise of course.  

Here in Crete growing your own is becoming more common again, thanks to the economic crisis. Most people who have any land at all are growing something on it.

Our soil is terrible (mud bath in the winter & concrete in the summer), so needs a lot of additional help in the form of compost & organic fertilisers to be any good, but I'm gradually winning the battle and discovering what really works here & what doesn't.

I think any discussion of growing your own veg needs to separate out the purely economic element from the satisfaction & taste, as others have said. It isn't always cheaper to GYO, but it does give you the chance to grow things that may be unseasonal and/or very expensive to buy in your "home" country. If you grow under glass you have a lot of scope - when we were in the UK, we grew "Greek" tomatoes (the really big ones) under glass very successfully, having brought home seeds from tomatoes bought to eat when on holiday. Here, it is the other way round - the winter veg which are common in the UK are not available, so it is worth trying - sprouts for example. I attempted these last year, but they bolted because I planted at the wrong time. I've just put in some plants grown by a friend, so hope they might be ready before it gets too hot.

Potatoes are worth it, because it is impossible to buy small potatoes here, so good to pull them when they are a decent size. I would encourage anyone to grow things if they can - even if just in pots on a balcony, as becoming more aware of where food comes from might just help to slow down the ever increasing health problems of a generation which has become totally removed from the source of its food.


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