How Much is Growing Your Own Worth?

We grow our own. Not on a large scale and certainly not enough to be self sufficient. Its essentially something to keep me occupied and for fun. However, I’ve always kept a record of what we harvest and tried to assign a value to that. My better half (frequently) gets cross because when there’s a glut (of anything) there seems to be a need to “do something with it”. Tomatoes are my big weakness with a crop which ranges upwards from 40kg so the get eaten, chopped, frozen, souped, sauced and anything else to use them over the year.

So, all my growing is for entertainment, not to make a profit but I find it interesting to try and work out whether the fruit & vegetables created make a contribution to our budget or whether (excluding my time) they cost money.

There are obviously two things that can be quantified:

  • How much we spend on seeds, compost, fertiliser, etc.
  • How much we crop of the various things.

Spend is easy, we just keep a record of what we spend on consumables at the garden centre and other places. I exclude things like pots because they last many years so are practically free.

The weight of the crop is also easy, simply weighing the harvest. It also shows how seasons vary, tomatoes can start cropping any time from early to late July depending on the weather and go on until late August to early November depending on the weather and the cultivars. The thing which is difficult is knowing what the crop is worth. Does one use the value of the same thing in the supermarket (courgettes are presently £2.50 per kilo for example) or the price of something equivalent. Its even worse when one considers the question “would I have included this in the recipe if there wasn’t a glut?”. (Again considering courgettes, we use them to bulk out recipes at this time of year but we certainly wouldn’t buy courgettes (at £2.50 per kilo) to do so. So the courgettes used in this way aren’t worth the supermarket price – in fact one could consider that they have no value).

Finally, (back to tomatoes) are they worth the price of fresh tomatoes in the supermarket or (if they’re turned into chopped frozen tomatoes) is it the price of canned tomatoes which would be the equivalent.

The answer (obviously) is – it doesn’t really matter. The value of the produce is whatever you want it to be and the result is “just for fun”.

So, on that basis, where are we now (mid August). Everything is cropping. We’ve had 3-4kg Strawberries, ~8kg Courgettes, 3kg French Beans, 6kg potatoes; 4kg tomatoes and 15 cucumbers (they’re priced by number not weight) as well as a start of the autumn fruiting raspberries, rhubarb and a good selection of lettuce. Our mythical calculations make this around £50 of produce with the strawberries and courgettes at the top of the value. This compares to an outgoing of around £70 but the only outgoing I can see happening after now is some more tomato fertiliser.

So, all in all. Its fun and it doesn’t cost anything.