Have you or somebody you’ve known ever expressed concern about how much gardening costs? Have you or someone you’ve known ever chosen not to garden because it’s too expensive? Back in 2006, William Alexander wrote a book called, “The $64 tomato”. And he made a point that gardening is very expensive and you might not get payback. I’ve talked to a lot of gardeners since then who have expressed that concern. They’re afraid of getting into gardening because it just costs too much. But I don’t agree with that. And today, I’m going to discuss my thoughts and how you can avoid paying $64 for each tomato that you grow in your garden Hi, I’m Gardener Scott and I really don’t think you should worry that gardening is too expensive. First the rewards from gardening just by getting out and getting your hands in the soil, you can’t measure that in money value. If you do want to measure the value of your garden, you can weigh and count all of your harvest and get an idea of how much you’re actually gaining from gardening. And I think in the end you’ll find that whether it be that intrinsic satisfaction or the money value of what you harvest, either way it’s well worth it. So how did Alexander arrive at $64 per tomato that he grew? Well, he and his wife wanted a big garden so they hired someone to design it and build it and it cost over 16 thousand dollars when they were complete. He amortized that amount over 20 years and determined that every year he went out into his garden it had already cost him about eight hundred dollars. And then in that year that he references in the book. he spent more than seven hundred dollars on new tools and basic gardening supplies. So he was already over fifteen hundred dollars, in his mind, in that particular season. And then he did take the value of the crops that he grew that year and subtracted them from that amount. Which left the tomatoes. He grew 19 tomatoes and when he crunched all the numbers he determined, not counting all of those other crops that he had already accounted for, that each of those tomatoes, those heirloom Brandywine tomatoes cost 64 dollars each. I think most of us would agree that spending $16,000 in your first year for a garden is probably a little excessive. Especially since you can start so much smaller for so much less and that’s my basic philosophy. Start small. Especially if you have that big concern about the cost. Just start with one bed or one patch. Grow something and then realize how much fun it is. Then when you start putting money into it you realize that you really are getting a lot out of it. Whatever amount you put in, don’t start off with an excessively high amount. Start off small. This was the area that I grew my first plants in our first year in this house. Now, I was lucky that this hoop came with the landscape, but even if I didn’t have the hoop, this is a nice flat bare section for growing plants. And that’s what I chose to do. You probably have a similar sized area in your yard where you can start growing. You might need to dig out some grass or make the weeds go away, like I had to do here, but it was a place to start, didn’t cost anything. My only expense that first year was the few dollars that I had to pay for the seeds to put into this bed. I could have just gardened in that bed in that first year, and for new gardeners, especially if they’re afraid of the cost, that’s what I would recommend, just picking that one patch. But I knew I also wanted a raspberry bed. And as I mentioned in my last video, this was the very first bed that I constructed. the lumber cost about $75 for a 24 foot long and 4 foot wide bed. I did purchase the soil that went into it and that cost about $100 total. So this whole bed ended up costing me about a hundred and seventy-five dollars. Now, I could have sourced the lumber from someone who was giving the wood away and that piece would have cost nothing. I could have had patience to build my own soil over a year or two and that would have been close to nothing. But I wanted this in place. Less than $200, I had a 24 foot long bed. The plants I also had for free because I just dug up some raspberries from my previous garden. That’s a great option Ii you know someone who gardens. They’re probably willing to give you some of their plants. If not, go ahead and purchase them. I put 20 plants into this bed, and today I’ve got hundreds of them. Allow time to do it’s magic. You don’t need to buy hundreds of plants to start your garden. You can get by with just a few and keep your costs low. I dd spend a lot of time in that first year removing weeds and small trees and bushes but the financial outlay was about $200 for the whole year. And I got a lot more than that back with just the tomatoes and the peppers and the cucumbers that I grew. In the second year, I expanded and put in this bed, the beds behind me, and the shed. Again, I purchased new lumber With the soil and with the lumber this high raised bed cost about a hundred dollars. This low 4 foot by 8 foot bed behind me cost about $50 and the half bed by the shed was about $25. So, again, the beds alone were less than $200. And they greatly expanded my garden space. I built the shed myself and the materials cost about $600. You don’t have to have a shed. I like having a shed. But I could have done without it. And in the second year, my garden again cost about $200 In the third year I expanded to this lower part of the garden. Our soil is terrible here in Colorado. So again, I had to purchase the soil and bring it in. I already had the railroad ties to put on the side and establish a little bit of a terrace, but even with all that soil I brought in the cost was less than $200. And with the pumpkins and the squash and the tomatoes and the peppers and everything else I was able to grow, I got back all of that money in the first year that I was growing in this expanded portion of the garden. In the fourth year, I added this little cinder block wall to set up another trellis area to garden in. I brought in a small amount of soil but a lot of compost to amend to this lower section and the upper section. I was able to start growing some strawberries and some herbs in this area, in addition to everything else that I’d already had. And what do you think the amount was for that fourth year? Less than two hundred dollars. By now, there’s no doubt. You’ve figured out how I garden. I’ve spent about eight hundred dollars over four years building this garden space. It could have been less if I sought out free materials and made some of my own soil and amendments. But all told it’s about two hundred dollars per year and that’s how I choose to do it I could have started with a thousand dollars and done this all at once, but to do that I would have had to pay somebody to do all of the labor that I ultimately did over those many years. The labor cost if I had done it all at once would have probably been two to three thousand dollars and I would have probably been forced to spend more on supplies because it would have all had to have been done. So estimating up, this garden would have cost me $5,000 to put in place in that first year if I didn’t have patience and if I didn’t like doing all this work myself. Because I love doing all of this work. That’s an example of how you can garden. You can do it all at once and pay for it or just do it a little bit at a time and really save yourself some money. What I’ve covered so far reflects how much it costs to build a garden and there’s definitely alternatives, if you have a flat area and choose not to go with raised beds, the only cost is whatever you choose to spend to prepare the soil, which could be a fraction, less than what I’ve spent because I had to bring in all of my own soil and build the beds. The other costs associated with gardening are plants. And the asparagus that I have growing here I did purchase that and put it into place, but for the whole bed it was about $20 worth of asparagus. The strawberries cost me nothing because I just transferred from plants from my previous garden. But if I purchased the strawberries I could have started small with maybe $20 worth of the strawberries that I ordered online and then with patience allow them to spread because strawberries will easily expand and fill a space in no time whatsoever. All of the tomatoes that I’m growing in this lower bed, I grow from seed, all the beans from seed, all the peppers from seed, almost everything I grow is from seed and you save huge amounts of money if you can start your plants inside, from seed, rather than paying a nursery or a garden center full price for a plant that they raised from seed. Another expense that you need to consider when you’re beginning to garden or want to expand your garden is the cost of your tools. Now, I buy relatively good quality tools and I keep them until they just don’t work any more. My wheelbarrow, which I’ve used to move all this soil I’ve talked about, cost about $50 20 plus years ago. So if I amortize it out, I’m basically spending about $2 per year for the cost of my wheelbarrow and it has many more years to go so that cost continues to go down. A trowel to use in the beds. I bought a $10 trowel and I’ve had it for years and years. I bought a nice spade with a fiberglass handle that wouldn’t break and I’ve had it for years and years. So I haven’t had to buy new tools in a long time. But in the beginning, I only purchased what I needed: a wheelbarrow and a spade, for the beginning, to build a garden, and then a trowel and some pruners as the garden grew. And then of course all the other fancy stuff that you choose but might not be necessary. In the beginning, you can choose whether you buy expensive you buy used or maybe you borrow from a gardener friend who no doubt has more tools than he or she really needs. So you can get into gardening for next to nothing, if you try to source a good value for your tools. I take my time and just garden a little bit more each year. That really allows me to have control over how much gardening costs. Which is why I have no fear that it’s going to cost too much. Because if it’s a bad year, and I can’t afford to expand my garden, then I don’t. Or I choose to do it using some of those free methods that I’ve discussed I’m willing to take the time to expand my garden. I’m also willing to take the time to learn about gardening. To try to do things the best way I can so that I’m not wasting seed or plants or anything that I have to purchase. And by doing that it really gives me great control over the costs associated with gardening. And if I want to expand, and I think it’s going to cost too much, well, then I can choose to not do it. And then it costs nothing. And when I do expand. I have control over how I choose to do it. Spend a lot or spend a little. That’s how I choose to do it and that’s how you can do it, if you want to keep your cost low because you’re afraid that you’ll get drawn into this wonderful world, and the expenses will just keep climbing. For me, every year even with the expansion the expenses are dropping, because I save seed at the end of the season. So now I don’t even have to buy a lot of the seed anymore, and eventually the cost is close to zero. Starts off as high as you want it, but if you do it right, it can drop to almost nothing. If you have any comments or questions about how to do this or how I’ve done this, please let me know below. If you want more of these gardening videos, subscribe to the Gardener Scott channel. If you like the video, you can give me a thumbs up and you can share it. I’m Gardener Scott. Enjoy gardening. You