MSE Blog: Can an allotment cut the cost of fruit & veg?

"Every year my very trusting friends leave their allotment plot in my hands when they go away..."

Read MSE Rebecca's full blog: Can an allotment cut the cost of fruit & veg?

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  • RASRAS Forumite
    29.9K Posts
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    I think some of your pricing in the article is interesting but............

    I often have a snack brekkie on my way to the bus stop in the summer. I raid Royal Sovereign strawberries, raspberries, jostaberries, a few blue berries, loganberries, wild strawberries, ripe gooseberries, redcurrants and white currants; whatever is in season straight off the plant. Obviously I never buy any of these but I was gob-smacked when I looked at the prices. My breakfast would have set me back at least £6 a day, possibly more.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • I_have_spokenI_have_spoken
    5.1K Posts
    No, buying seasonal produce from the market is better value overall.
  • Dizzy_DitzyDizzy_Ditzy Forumite, Ambassador
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    I haven't paid for a potato since May...:)

    I was gobsmacked when I saw the price of gooseberries in the grocers. I had a good 10kg of them this year - all in the brewing bucket, hopefully for gooseberry champagne next year :beer:

    Saved a fortune this year on not buying veg. Got plenty of homebrew from last year too :beer: :beer:
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  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    What should be included in any assessment of expenses is the cost of your time, because this is the most precious resource any of us has.

    I used to be one half of a partnership in a plant nursery business, which grew from a humble stall at boot sales into a full-time job. However, I never lost sight of the fact that, hour for hour, I'd probably have made more money with less effort working in my local DIY shed. The main reason for doing it was simple enjoyment..

    The same applies to an allotment or garden plot. If it's a labour of love, someone can make it work as a leisure activity that ties in well with others, like cooking, brewing and preserving. However, if the considerable effort involved in raising crops has no great appeal in the first place, the notion of saving money through growing your own is almost a non-starter. You'd be far better off taking a part time job or finding some other way to use your skills if you need to generate extra cash.

    I say 'almost a non-starter' because there are things that take little time which many could do to augment their diet and save money. For example, outside our back door we have pots of herbs, a trough of cut & come again leaves and a bay tree which may be raided during much of the year for instant additions to home cooking/sandwiches.

    Back door mini-allotments take only minutes of setting up and maintenance, so they are the obvious place to start if people are unsure about their level of interest and commitment.

    See if it grows from there....;)
  • snowgosnowgo Forumite
    146 Posts
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    I agree that costing in your time is important - even if it is just to the extent of considering what else you could or would be doing. But if you enjoy gardening, and view it as a hobby, then you might take a different perspective on it.

    I have grown vegetables in raised beds in my back garden for the past few years. There was a significant initial outlay re wood to build raised beds, wood to build a compost bin, copper tape for slug prevention, manure to give the soil a good start, seeds & seed potatoes, etc, etc. If you factor in these sort of costs, then for the first few years you won't be making much saving. Okay - you can make raised beds from reclaimed wood, go to the local stables for manure, etc, etc, and save money that way. But realistically, how many of us have some reclaimed wood at hand, or live close to those stables. So I think for the average person, there will be some initial outlay.

    I've found a big difference in the cost savings for growing different veg. Home grown potatoes mean that I can have some great tasting varieties that are not readily available to buy in the shops, but at the same time they are still more expensive than I could buy potatoes in Lidl or Aldi. But on the other hand, leaf beet/perpetual spinach and kale are very cheap to grow, are available fresh from the garden even in mid winter and so are absolute staples for me. French beans, courgettes, broccoli and spring onions are also money savers. I have not tried growing onions, on account that my local Asian store sells sacks of onions so cheaply that I really doubt I could beat them. I'd be interested to know if others grow onions (or other veg) cheaply enough to undercut shop prices.
  • Hoof_HeartedHoof_Hearted Forumite
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    Just started my allotment and have a lot of work to do but I regard it as a healthy hobby. If I make savings, it's a bonus.
    Je suis sabot...
  • DankDank Forumite
    7 Posts
    It's not just the cost, it's the flavour of home grown produce that beats most of the shop stuff.

    Compare a freshly picked Gardeners Delight tomato to the ones in the shop that hardly have any flavour, even when cooked.
  • HappyMJHappyMJ Forumite
    21.1K Posts
    Cheaper than a gym and you have the chance to meet people.

    Saving money is not one of it's advantages.
    :p Regular savers earn 6% interest (HSBC, First Direct, M&S) :p Loans cost 2.9% per year (Nationwide) = FREE money. :p
  • Former_MSE_AndreaFormer_MSE_Andrea Former MSE
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    I'd agree on the comments that you have to enjoy it as much as anything.

    As I mentioned in the Facebook comments and in my Grow your own food for free blog too, I think if you use certain methods, though, eg no-dig and grow a lot of perennials, eg swiss chard, rhubarb, fruit bushes, that could make a big difference to whether you're in profit or not.

    And as someone's said, the difference in taste of home/locally grown veg compared to supermarket is huge and worth the effort for a lot of people.
    Could you do with a Money Makeover?

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  • SailorSamSailorSam Forumite
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    If you've got a big enough garden there's no need for an allotment. But for most it's a healthy hobby with the bonus you'll get better food than you could buy in the shops.
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