How to save money on backyard plants
Posted On July 23, 2021
Gardeners who love the outdoors can save money by planting plants outside.
A new study from the University of Miami’s Meadowlarks Botanical Gardens found that people who grow their own produce outdoors save money when they choose organic over commercial crops.
“We found that outdoor gardens were more likely to produce fruits and vegetables than indoor gardens,” said Sarah Gertz, a professor of economics and senior author of the study.
“Consumers, who may not always be in the market for a variety of produce, are often more likely than non-consumers to be able to select and shop for fruits and veggies from the garden.”
The study was published online April 25 in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The study looked at 1,000 U.S. households in the fall of 2012 and winter of 2013.
About 4 percent of respondents in each household said they grew their own food, compared to 2 percent who ate commercial produce.
In the spring of 2013, the study found, gardeners with gardens had an average annual savings of $14 per household, compared with a savings of just $4.25 for those who did not.
This study did not examine whether gardeners who grew their produce outdoors saved more money on food or on transportation.
“The study doesn’t show whether gardening was more profitable for gardeners, or whether gardening is more environmentally sustainable,” said Gerts.
The researchers also analyzed whether outdoor gardens had the greatest benefit to urban residents.
Urban gardens were much more likely, they found, to produce vegetables that are cheaper to grow in urban areas, such as lettuce and tomatoes.
This means that, in addition to savings on food and transportation, gardens that are more green are likely to also produce more healthy food.
The authors also found that backyard gardens produce the most fruits and produce.
“This is because gardeners are generally more comfortable with growing their own vegetables, as well as fruits, in urban gardens,” Gertzen said.
“In urban areas with lots of people, there is a greater chance of having healthy, nutritious produce.”
The researchers hope to expand their study to other parts of the country.
“More research is needed to determine the extent to which the benefits of gardening outweigh the costs of growing food in urban environments,” said co-author Laura Siegel, a doctoral student at UM.
“I also think the study needs to be extended to consider other aspects of food preparation, such the use of soil and fertilizers.”
The paper was funded by the National Science Foundation and the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.