Submitted by Susan Nadon, RHS Member, October 2017.

I have always wondered if the costs outweighed the output from our garden.  After writing this article, I have a better idea – the benefits are so much more valuable than the dollar amount.

First, let me explain that it would not be fair to count those impulse purchases, like buying a few zone 5 seeds when you’re browsing your favourite gardening catalogue… as a curious gardener, it is interesting to see what can happen in Saskatchewan. I am guilty of that whim purchase… or maybe two.

I am assuming that you have your equipment, pots, tomato cages, etc. at hand. It has been my practice to save my seeds annually. I know that my favourite annual vegetables, fruits and flowers will give me a good start. We purchased a few replacement pepper and tomato plants from the annual RHS Plant Sale to offset ones lost to wind and early frost.

We compost all that we can and use two rain barrels to collect rainwater.  We did not include costs for city water, because this water is also used for the lawn, trees, etc.

So, what does it cost for two 9×9 garden plots, 8 large planters and a front flower bed?

  • Sheep manure – $12
  • Organic potting soil for larger planters – $16
  • Petunias – red & white for Canada’s 150th – $12
  • Two heirloom tomato plants to offset some frost loss – $10
  • Two pepper plants – $4
  • Heirloom seed for kale purchased at Seedy Saturday – $4
  • 1 rosemary plant – $3
  • Large container of Epsom salts – $11
  • Total Purchases – $72

We find it best to purchase radishes, lettuce, beets, potatoes, carrots and crucifers at the Farmer’s market.

Here is what we can look forward to:

  • 5 kg black currants
  • 5 kg rhubarb
  • 6 kg raspberries
  • 5 kg assorted bush beans
  • 1 kg assorted pole beans
  • 1 kg cucumbers
  • 5 kg zucchini
  • 1 kg carrots
  • 3 kg kale
  • 2 kg onions
  • 2 kg spinach
  • 3 kg garlic and 1 kg garlic scapes
  • 7 kg assorted tomatoes
  • 4 kg assorted squash
  • 1 kg sweet and hot peppers
  • 4 kg grapes
  • .5 kg grape leaves
  • 1 kg herbs – sage, savory, cilantro, mint, chives, dill, tarragon, sorrel, fennel, rosemary, oregano, basil

Let’s estimate a base cost of $4 per kg x 50.5 kg of produce – $202

And deduct our cost of purchased items – $72

Grand total – $130

This doesn’t sound like much but, but we value the exercise provided by working outside.  No need for vitamin D in spring and summer! We enjoy the rewards of tasting and sharing our produce.

Not only do I make jams and jellies with the various berries, but I also add some to our winemaking. I am still trying to master stuffed grape leaves; but it’s still a tasty, if messy treat. We enjoy garlic scapes as pickles, salsa or a delicious garnish. Look to other cultures or innovative chefs to inspire you to try something different with your produce.

We take advantage of our summer and the spaces in our backyard. I would rather use the space productively than mow a lawn every week. We reduce the number of trips to the grocery store in for the same produce. I believe that there are numerous, subtle health benefits to eating locally grown produce. As a wonderful bonus, we are now witnessing our families grow much of their summer fare as well.

If you have friends that you can exchange a bit of time and work or some of your produce for an item or two that you don’t have, this is a win-win for everyone.  Don’t forget to check out Regina Food for Thought and Used Regina ads for other opportunities.

Thanks to RHS, we have learned many tips, practices and advice from friends and presenters alike! I hope you can also see that it is truly worthwhile!