Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Growing your own food at home can be rewarding, but is it cost-effective?

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Occasionally, you get journalism like this.

But I think it obscures more than it reveals.

What are the costs involved in growing vegetables?

I get seedlings @ 15 for $3 or some, like herbs, at $2 each.

If I go to the markets and indulge in seedling buy  I find it very hard to spend more than $20.

I also have the option to grow from seed which I can buy on line for $1-1.50 per packet.

I make my own soil from grass clippings (and Vetiver leaves more so now).

If I 'fertilize' I use manure or my own DIY weed tea. But it isn't really necessary if you seriously mulch. I also have chicken poo on hand.

I may buy

  • composted cow manure @ $7/bag
  • seed raising mix @ $7/bag

but any real cost rests with water and irrigation. That is where you get hit. The cost of town water.

[Although monitoring your bills will tell you how much the gardening lark will cost you.]

If you decide on a water tank to harvest rain water you will need to pay for it and its installation as well for a pump to distribute the water you collect. The larger your vegey garden, the bigger the tank you'll need.  In drought times or in Winter, a standalone tank may not serve all your watering needs.

So you'll need to supplement with town water.

I'm fortunate in that I have a spear pump accessing the aquifers below my feet*, but even there I need to be careful not to irrigate with too much of the ground water because of its content of various salts. Like with any pump system relying on electricity, you also need to be wary of your electricity costs so make sure you run your pump(s) at night.

That is also a good idea as a way to combat evaporation. I have a rachet timer ($19) that turns on the pump at around 4am so that the water seeps in before the heat of the day descends --but the water isn't left onto  of the soil during the cool of the night so that fungi get a free kick .

[My tank pump died recently and I cannot justify the cost of replacing it. I now use gravity to access the water it holds.]

When I compare my 'budget' to what I am asked to pay in the shops for vegetables -- I think I'm way ahead. That is so long as I plant smart -- don't lose too many plants, don't waste any harvest, and plant for my own culinary needs.

That requires that I try to adapt my menu to my kitchen garden as much as I engineer my garden to supply the kitchen.

Of course if you are a 'Bunnings Gardener' and indulge the cards, it is gonna cost you big time. That's always the template these articles rely on. What with the cost of your seedlings, mulches, raised beds, fertiliser, tanks, irrigation tubing, tools... you can spend up big under cover of edible greenery.

*A local installed the shaft and supplied the pump for $850! He has now been pumped up into heaven.Put my spear pump in when he was in his eighties. 

Solar Water Pumps for Ground Water seem to be what they use now instead of windmills  but if you live near the Bay then a wind turbine probably could be used.

The problem with growing at home is what they sell at the supermarkets  and hardware  as fertilizer  is over priced low quality .

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