Economics of growing your own

Hi all how are we today?

I was talking to someone at work other day, and needless to say the subject of our allotment came up. He was quite interested about the whole subject and asked me a question that I hadn’t really thought much about: “How much cheaper is it to grow your own compared to buying vegetables at the shop?” Up until now I have been focussing on other benefits such as taste, nutrition, satisfaction of the process as well the philosophy of growing your own. Its crazy that the idea this would save us a lot of money on our food bill hadn’t really occured to me.

Having been asked this I did a quick bit of mental arithmetic and realised that it was cheaper. Now I’m sitting down with a pen and paper working the maths out its quite eye opening how cheap food really is when you grow it yourself. Let me use our courgettes as an example. We bought a packet of courgette seeds for just under £2. The pack contains 20 seeds, of which we planted 6 (all 6 germinated thankfully.) Assuming that we dont use the remaining 14 seeds that means that each of the seedlings we propagated cost us 33 pence per plant. The pots I got for free from work (I bring home pots from planting projects that would otherwise be thrown into a recycling bin). I buy 75 litre bags of multipurpose compost for £3 a bag, of which we used 2 litres per plant. Therefore each plant costs us 8 pence in compost, bringing our costs to 41 pence per plant. Two of these plants have made it to the allotment – the others we have given to family members as we didn’t really have space.

So far we have harvested at a guess around 10kg in courgettes from the allotment; very roughly 5kg per plant. Assuming this is correct, and following my previous calculations our allotment grown courgettes cost us just over 8 pence per kilo. The only overhead costs involved are rent of the plot which for us is £30 a year (I gather this is pretty normal), and about £6 on fertiliser, of which a small amount was used for the courgettes. With these in mind you’re only looking at a couple of pence per kilo at the very most. For arguments sake lets we round the total cost up to 10 pence per kilo. Next year when we are more productive at the allotment we will have an even greater yield pushing that cost even lower. Even as this season goes on and we harvest goes on the cost per kilo will continue to drop.

Now for the fun part. At the very most we are spending 10 pence per kilo growing our own. Taking a look in the supermarket courgettes are selling for around £2 a kilo; a difference of £1.90! I am well aware of the basics of business; everyone from the farmers to the supermarket have to make their money. However theres a lot to be said for keeping that £1.90 in your your own pocket… Heres to plenty of more savings!


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