Asphalt Garden: Calculating Costs and Figuring My Break-Even Point

It’s an exciting time for the asphalt garden – fruit has begin to set on both tomato plants and the jalapeño, and the zucchini has tons of flowers, promising a bountiful crop.

The first visible jalapeño pepper.

I’m getting ahead of myself, I know, but I was curious to find out exactly how much I had spent so far on this garden project, and how much food my garden would have to produce for me to break even in this whole endeavor.

I’ve added up everything I purchased and I broke my spending into two categories: One-time start-up costs and recurring plant and fertilizer costs.

Start-Up Costs
Item Price
garden hose and nozzle $32
shovel $15
trowel $8
3 wine barrels $111
8 bags of soil $46
3 tomato trays $9
2 tomato cages $18
total start-up cost $239

Fortunately, I won’t be spending almost $250 just to get my garden up and running each year. I knew the wine barrels were expensive, but I’m planning on using them for ages.

Fertilizer and Plant Costs
Item Price
organic fertilizer $8
slow-release fertilizer $12
fish emulsion fertilizer $8
fungicide $9
2 basil plants $4
2 tomato plants $6
zucchini plant $3
jalapeño plant $6
thyme plant $3
oregano plant $3
Total annual cost $62

Some of the fertilizer will likely last more than one season, but $62 is a good estimate of how much I’ll have to spend each year to plant in my four barrels.

My zucchini plant has lots of blossoms. Zucchini is a pretty cheap vegetable, but the plants are prolific.

I’m going to be weighing everything I harvest this summer, to see how much money I save by planting a vegetable garden. I visited my local farmers market this afternoon to get calibrated on prices. The herbs are $1 a bunch, and zucchini costs $1 a pound. Jalapeños are $.50 each. My best chance to save some money is with tomatoes – they cost $3 a pound.

So far I’ve saved a whopping $2 by harvesting about one bunch each of cilantro and basil. Only $299 more to go!

  • Lydia

    Those vegetables will be worth savoring!

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