I just brought in the final harvest from the vegetables I planted way back in March. At the start of the season, I broke down the costs I had incurred to create and plant a container garden on my apartment building’s parking lot. Throughout the summer I’ve been weighing everything I’ve harvested and eaten. Let’s take a look at how much I harvested, and how much of my investment I earned back.
I had lots of start-up costs (planters and soil, mainly) that I never expected to earn back right away. I spent $239 on those items.
Of course, I also had annual costs that would stay consistent from year to year. Those were fertilizer and the vegetable plants. I spent $66 on those items. (Note: In my original calculation, I left off the cilantro plants.)
So, how much money did I earn back? Below is the plant-by-plant breakdown. The prices I used to calculate the value of my harvest were from my local farmers market.
Plant Costs and Earnings
|Plant||Cost||Farmers market price||Harvested amount||Earnings|
|Sun gold tomatoes||$3||$3/lb||2.46 lb||$7.38|
|Early girl tomatoes||$3||$2.50/lb||2.44 lb||$6.10|
|Basil||$4 for two||$1/bunch||12 bunches||$12|
|Cilantro||$4 for two||$1/bunch||1 bunch||$1|
|Total cost||$29||Total earnings||$39.04|
At first glance, it looks like I earned $10.04 by planting my own vegetables. I haven’t calculated the cost of the fertilizer, however. I used a few scoops of slow-release fertilizer, half a box of organic fertilizer, and half a bottle of fish emulsion. I also misguidedly bought a bottle of fungicide. That adds up to another $19. (If I hadn’t bought the fungicide, I would have exactly broken even.)
I haven’t made a dent in my one-time purchases, but that’s OK. I learned a ton during this first season of the Asphalt Garden and I’m sure my yields will be better next summer. I’m excited to plant a new crop of winter vegetables. I’m starting from seeds, so my initial plant costs are already much lower.