Real Men Sow

How Much Money Can Growing My Own Save Me? May Update


After April’s prediction of a May blip in harvesting levels, you can imagine my excitement when I totted up my pickings and had actually beaten my previously monthly record by £17.46 !

I made 45 harvests – up 13 on April, at an average of £1.15 per picking.

Strawberries are Expensive!
On closer inspection, the reason for my bumper saving became clear: 3kg and £27.56 of gorgeous, juicy strawberries.

Having grown my own since I left home, I had absolutely no idea how expensive strawbs are. Analysing my first handful of the lovely red fruit using My Supermarket left me bewildered. Organically grown, British strawberries just like mine were fetching £9.17 a kilo!

In fact, I was so disbelieving of this, that I popped into a local Marks and Sparks during my lunch hour. They had no organic strawberries, but even the standard jobbies were fetching nearly a tenner a kilo at the beginning of the season!

There are more expensive veg and fruit at this weight kilo, of course, but factor a strawberry’s weight into the money saving equation, and suddenly you’ve got a seriously good bang for buck – the biggest single savers that I’ve grown so far.

Strawberry plants are a super investment too, as they self seed new plants through ‘runners’, so having bought my first batch four years ago, I’ve not needed to buy any more since.

The Rhubarb’s Not So Good in May
Unfortunately, while the strawberries make strides, another big saver has been in early decline. My rhubarb has really taken a turn for the worse in this incredibly dry weather, becoming soft and bendy and not producing much at all.

I made three harvests, saving £4.77, but apart from an isolated picking on the 19th, nothing since May 10th. Fingers crossed we get some rain and the plants perk up. I’ve not had nearly enough of my rhubarb fix!

The Not Quite so Rapid Radishes
Although they’re growing fast, my second batch of rushing radishes didn’t quite make it within the month. Oh well, plenty for June.

Goodbye to the Winter Veg
I also said ta-ra to my winter staples. My remaining stored squashes went soft, I pulled up the last leeks, and the ever faithful combo of perpetual spinach and curly kale went to seed.

Pulling up plants always makes me a little sad, but the crossover of the seasons is a very exciting time too. After months of the winter veg, the onset of Spring’s bounty brings a wide smile to my face. As well as the strawberries, May saw the allotment provide salad leaves, lettuces, radishes, spring greens, herbs, early potatoes, onion and garlic.

Although it has been very dry here, the warmth is now making everything grow extremely fast. My broadies are close, as are the globe artichokes and peas. Thinking of the crops I’ll be adding to the spreadsheet next month, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that everything’s starting all over again.

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  1. RonnieMay 31, 2011 at 6:24 pmReply

    I am suffering from strawberry envy. I have ONE solitary strawberry that is refusing to change colour from green to red. You are doing well on the finance stakes – strawberries are clearly the thing to grow!

  2. JelliebabeMay 31, 2011 at 8:02 pmReply

    Wweeeeeeee! I’ve juse had a first picking of strawberries and raspberries – Thats £3 of strawberries and £2 of Raspberries right there! BOOOOOOM ;oO Mmmmmm now – where’s the cream???

  3. Jono

    JonoMay 31, 2011 at 8:57 pmReplyAuthor

    Jealous of the raspberries JB – I have very few at the mo, and they’re piddly. Reckon we could do with some more rain.

    Doing okay Ronnie, thanks. Started out as a bit of fun, but it is really interesting analysing how much veg are actually worth.

  4. MarkJune 1, 2011 at 7:50 amReply

    Have you seen the survey the National Allotment Society did of value of crops grown on allotments? From memory, the average was £1500 (from a full sized plot) and the crops that most significantly pushed up these figures was….. soft fruit!

    So for saving money it looks like you have found the secret.

    I’ve got a copy of the report somewhere, let me know if you’d like a copy.

    And congratulations on a great harvest!


  5. Jono

    JonoJune 1, 2011 at 9:12 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Mark,

    I did see that survey – made interesting reading, and just go to show what can be achieved.

    I’m finding it fascinating working out which crops are the most cost effective to grow. Be great to put together a plan for someone who wants to grow in a small area to save money.

    Got plenty of gooseberries coming too, so be good to get them weighed. Raspberries not so great though.

  6. MarkJune 3, 2011 at 9:07 pmReply

    Yes, quite right, Jono – and be interesting to know which crops are most cost effective on allotments and which in containers and how much it varies. Raspberries, for example, are tricky in pots. I think my most cost effective container crops are: salad, herbs and tomatoes.

  7. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » One Honeymoon, One Hardworking Mum and One Courgette.July 4, 2011 at 8:46 pmReply

    [...] strawberries have finished too, but I’ve certainly had my money’s worth from them this year, so no grumbles [...]

  8. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » How Much Money Can Growing Your Own Save Me? June Update (with added massive soft fruit savings)July 8, 2011 at 5:56 pmReply

    [...] Fruit is the Secret In May’s update, fellow money saving investigator and all round incredible grower Mark, from Vertical Veg, [...]

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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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