Garden Finance 101

February 5, 2006

Beginner gardeners often wonder; “What’s it all going to cost for me to create and grow my new vegetable garden?” I thought I’d summarize the bare minimum gardening expenses that a new gardener should budget for as they start and plant that first-time vegetable garden.

  • Tiller Rental… $45 Sure, double digging your new raised beds is an expense free option and may even produce better immediate results if you have the time, muscles, and desire. But renting a tiller or hiring a contractor to custom till that new garden area is faster, easier, and over time your raised beds will look and produce the same as one that was painstakingly double dug at the start.

  • Compost or Mushroom Soil… $30 A load of well aged compost or mushroom soil will add valuable organic matter, nutrients, and beneficial soil organisms to support the growth and health of your new vegetable garden. Spread half of the compost over the growing area after making one pass with the tiller, and then finish tilling to incorporate the organic matter into the garden. The remaining compost or mushroom soil should be spread and raked into the upper inch or two of soil after the garden beds have been arranged and shaped.
  • Garden Tools… $85 My list of essential gardening tools includes: a sturdy garden digging fork, bow style rake, hand trowels, and a watering can or hose. Your garden tools are an investment and good quality equipment, if taken care of, will provide you with many years of service and make tending the garden much easier. I paid fifty dollars for a Spear and Jackson style digging fork, but after twenty years of heavy use I’m still working with the same durable gardening tool.
  • Seeds and Vegetable Plants… $40 The amount of your gardening budget devoted to this area depends on the size of your growing area and the types of plants you wish to grow. You can save some money by starting your own seeds, but the first time vegetable gardener may want to purchase transplants for crops such as tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, which need to be started indoors under lights.
  • Liquid Kelp/Fish Fertilizer… $10 You’ll use this as a foliar spray throughout the growing season to provide the maturing vegetable plants with an extra boost of natural nutrients to support growth and fruit production. A little plant fertilizer goes much further by mixing the product with water and spraying it directly onto the leaves of the vegetation rather than applying to the garden soil.
  • Insecticidal Soap Spray… $15 Just in case a few aphids, mites, or thrips invite themselves to dinner in your new garden, you’ll be prepared for them with this safe pesticide. Sprays, even organic ones are a last resort and shouldn’t be viewed as a quick cure all for every garden woe, or be used indiscriminately.

So there you have it, a little over $200 to get that new vegetable garden planted and growing. With a little success you could recoup much of your investment through the value of the garden fresh produce you’ll be harvesting all summer long.

Then there is the added benefit you receive from the fresh air, sunshine, healthy exercise, peace of mind in knowing exactly what’s on the food you’re eating, pride of creating a beautiful edible landscape that’s a joy to behold, and the satisfaction of working hand in hand with The Creator, total it all up and the cost of your new vegetable garden is truly… Priceless!

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Melissa in Austin

    In reference to gathering seed stock and how to save money that way…a great resource is There are generous gardeners who will offer up seed to new gardeners for the cost of postage. So by sending a self adressed stamped envelope a ‘newbie’ could get most of their seed for a minimal investment.
    For anyone here in Kenny’s community…I’m always up for trading seeds or plants.

  • Hey

    Thanks for this great read, i have bookmarked your site so i can revist it.

    Keep up the good work.


  • Kenny,

    Just stumbled across your site and I’m very impressed. I’m more into the home and garden decor side of things, but still find the content on your blog to be quite engaging.

    I’ve got quite some way to go to get up to your professional standards 🙂

    Keep up the good work, and have a good one.


  • Kenny,
    Thanks for this great idea
    Keep up the good work.

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