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A Trial in Sustainability
A Frugal Dream
I've long been enamored with the idea of growing our own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Stepping out to the back porch for fresh basil when you're making a pizza is as romantic as it is practical.
To be fair, the project was not cheap. The raised bed itself cost a few hundred dollars in raw lumber, gravel, and fill dirt. But as I mention, this was a project that was needed for landscaping reasons. Therefore, I will not count the bed construction cost in my calculations.
The true savings come from not needing to purchase vegetables and herbs from the store.
Cost to Grow
We purchased the following, mostly from local nurseries at Lowes:
This reaches a grand total of $39.30 including tax, plus a couple of hours of free tanning and fitness (aka, planting everything).
Over the next several months, the tomato plant grew so tall that it buckled over the side of the bed. I was actually very surprised at how much it spread, and to date we have harvested approximately forty-five tomatoes ranging in size from an inch and a half diameter to over three inches.
This means each tomato cost us around $0.10.
Between the six banana pepper plants, we saw around eighty peppers produced. Many were used for making homemade salsa, some were frozen for use later on, and several more were pickled.
All in, these peppers cost us $0.28 each.
The jalapeno pepper plants produced around forty peppers. These were used along with the banana peppers for salsa, pickled peppers, and freezing for use in the future. In total, these cost us around $0.21 each.
Finally, the basil plant produced several gallon bags full of leaves. We made pesto for use on pasta (this can be frozen for up to six months without issue), used it fresh on pizza, and gave away bags to family members.
I don't quite know how to quantify the yield since it is so high, but considering the cost of fresh basil is around $2-3 for a single sprig, our production level would have cost a couple of hundred dollars easily.
A Recipe for Sustainability
Building the raised garden bed was an experiment in more than just frugality. It reflects a movement that is becoming increasingly important in the frugal firefly household - sustainability.
Those tomatoes, peppers, and basil, if purchased from a supermarket, would need to be shipped to our local location. How much did we save in carbon emissions by growing our own instead?
We are already discussing how we might be able to expand efforts into the future with additional products. Who knows, maybe we could even sell some of our produce in a farmer's market for a small bit of extra income. This might be a great way to introduce our kids to creating their own business. The possibilities are exciting!
Have you dipped your toes into backyard gardening? If so, how did it turn out? Did you save money or learn any new lessons along the way?
Let me know in the comments!
And check out these pictures of the building process.