Real Men Sow

2011 Real Men Sow Money Saving Total: £473.90

127kg of fruit and veg, as well as 22 cucumbers, 39 onions, 8 lettuces and 7 garlic.

That was my harvesting total for 2011. Phew, glad I didn’t have to carry all that home in one go.

Fortunately, it was spread over 444 harvests, at an average of £1.20 per harvest.

After a year long experiment, involving weighing every single one of my fruit and vegetables, and hours of my life spent plugging figures into a spreadsheet (okay, maybe only a couple), I’m more than a little happy to estimate my growing total at £531.57.

This figure is quite a lot lower than the estimated £1564 by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, but then I don’t tend to push my plot that hard, and I’m only growing for me and Ailsa. I’ve also had a few failures this year, such as my leeks and peas.

I got this return from just twenty quid’s worth of seeds, £18.50 annual rent, and three bags of multi-purpose compost. These outgoings totalled £57.67, which in theory gave me a profit for 2011 of £473.90.

I reinvested £30 of this back into two blueberry bushes in February. They yielded their first 62p this summer, which will hopefully increase in 2012!

Apparently, ‘reinvestment’ in fancy bike parts from the rest of the savings is not a goer…

Manhours and Start Up Costs
Back in March, I listed my start up costs too, in an attempt to put the allotment money saving idea into a longer term perspective. I estimated a start up cost of £280, which I reckon means I can safely say I’ve more than paid this sum back over the last four years.

I didn’t calculate man hours in the experiment, but hopefully the figures will give an idea of what’s possible with the 2-3 hours of work a week, which is the time I estimate I spend on the plot in total.

The Largest Value Fruit and Veg
Of course, I couldn’t talk about savings without analysing the fruit and veg that carried the biggest value in my crop.

I don’t think it’ll come as a shock to anyone that the clear winners were my 15kg of various tomato varieties at £64.62, and the £59.86 of strawberries, which weighed in at just over 7kg, but there are some veg in the next 7 most valuable that might raise a few eyebrows. They certainly surprised me, and I’ll be revealing them in the next couple of days.

If this stuff arouses the geek in you and is of interest, then please check back soon, but in the meantime, any guesses on the third most valuable veg of my 2011?

I’ve got to say, for ease of growing, abundant cropping and remarkable reliability, it seems this veg really is hard to beat…


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  1. SeanJanuary 8, 2012 at 9:45 amReply


  2. RobJanuary 8, 2012 at 10:02 amReply

    Interesting results. Personally I don’t reckon to saving anything in financial terms each year – although buying a polytunnel didn’t help last year!

    My outgoings also have manure and fertilisers which bump up the costs, and I’ve just had to replace my pruning saw which was another 20 odd quid. Then there’s the membership of the allotment association (not to mention the cost of the beer at the meetings!), fuel for the hedge cutters, etc.

    However, I balance it all out by the fact I don’t (need?) to go to a gym, I’m outdoors in a pleasant environment, I’ve made quite a few new friends down there, we’ve had loads of great social events for the whole family down there, over five years in I’m still learning loads, the fruit and veg is really tasty, I know exactly where it’s from and how I’ve grown it, and it challenges us to create intersting meals with the produce we grow. And it’s loads of fun!

  3. Julieanne Porter (@GwenfarsLottie)January 8, 2012 at 10:16 amReply

    Lettuce? Garlic? Spinach/Chard? I guess that’s cheating choosing 3… ;-)

  4. SharonJanuary 8, 2012 at 11:14 amReply

    I’m thinking squashes?? xx

  5. MurunJanuary 8, 2012 at 8:05 pmReply

    I’m going to guess kale. Easy to grow and just keeps on going. You’d think kale would be cheap as chips in the shops but I’ve always found it to be surprisingly expensive.

  6. Jono

    JonoJanuary 8, 2012 at 8:36 pmReplyAuthor

    No one’s got it yet…

    Rob – agree with your sentiments. Its certainly not about the money, and I’d definitely still grow veg if it cost me.

    Love your point about being challenged to cook different things with the produce. I find myself cooking lots of different stuff that I wouldn’t normally, as a result of a glut or growing a different vegetable. This is one of my favvourite things about GYO.

  7. MariaJanuary 9, 2012 at 10:31 amReply

    Courgettes?? easy and abundant….

    I’m amazed and the weight and value of the veg you’ve grown in one year!

  8. NomeJanuary 9, 2012 at 5:49 pmReply

    Runner beans?

    I’m impressed, Jono – every year I try to weigh my harvests and do my own calculations, but I can never keep it up! £500! Nice work!

  9. JohnJanuary 10, 2012 at 5:15 pmReply

    It’s been interesting reading your various ‘balance sheets’ postings throughout the year and this is a great summary.

  10. Jono

    JonoJanuary 11, 2012 at 8:41 pmReplyAuthor

    Thanks for your comments everyone. No one got it unfortunately. Some good guesses though – kale and runner beans are along the right track!

  11. Team Blog | Digging deep – and saving money tooMarch 13, 2012 at 11:17 amReply

    [...] worthwhile it is for you, as well as our Gardening board above, I’d hugely recommend reading Real Men Sow for [...]

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


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