Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Save Big Money Each Spring

It was a frigid 12 degrees when I woke this morning and I'm so glad I put my little pansies and strawberries indoors! They would not have been happy in that serious cold - brrrrrrrrr!!!


The sun was shining brightly, though, and it's the most glorious morning to welcome in Spring!


I spent some time yesterday completing phase 2 of my seed starting project. 

Phase 1 was getting my seed starting station set up in my utility room. 

Phase 2 involved actually planting the seeds which is a bit time consuming but will reap big rewards!


The first step was to sort through all the seeds I had ordered from Johnny's Selected Seeds  and read the back of each seed packet (with a magnifying glass, may I add!) 


I needed to determine which seeds needed to be started now, which would be started in a few weeks, and which would be sown directly into the veggie garden. 

Ziploc bags made the sorting process easy peasy. 


The seeds that were ready to start now I just put right back into the box. 

Next step was to make up plant markers for each little square pot. 

And then came the fun part - actually planting the seeds!


I followed the planting instructions on the back of each seed packet and when done, misted each square with some warm water. 


When I was done I covered each tray with the clear plastic domes and called it a day. 

I can't wait to see those first sprouts!

One of the interesting things to determine with this experiment will be the cost analysis of starting your own seeds vs buying established plants at the nursery. 

This is hardly going to be to the exact penny but here's my estimate:

Reusable supplies:

Light Kit - I am actually getting a whole new kit free from Amazon - when I contacted them about the busted bulb they sent me an entire additional light kit free! So I will buy a replacement bulb myself for the first kit and then use the second light kit when I start the second batch of seeds. The germinated seeds will not require the same heat so I'll move them into a slightly cooler location with the new light, and I'll use the utility room to germinate the second batch of seeds. So, my cost for 2 light kits + 1 bulb = $80.00

Plastic Grow Trays - they cost $30.00 for 5 trays, and I will be purchasing 5 more for the second growing station I'll be setting up. My total for the trays will be $60.00, although I will have two that are unused. 

Annual Supplies:

Cow Pots - I bought mine through Gardener's Edge and ordered 12 packs at $3.59 each with free shipping. If you order less, the cost is more. And I knew I would use them, so I made sure I ordered enough to get the free shipping and the reduced price. I will be using 8 of the packs this year to do both seed batches so my total for the 8 Cow Pots is $28.72

Seeds - Many of the seeds I ordered can last up to 5 years if stored correctly, so this is the most difficult cost to determine accurately. I bought a ton of seeds and spent a total of $200.00. I am going to estimate my cost at $50 annually for seeds, but for the first year I shall total in the entire amount. If you are adept at saving seeds from your plants each year to plant the following year you'll be able to eliminate this cost yearly and save even more money!

Soil - I paid $10.91 per bag x 3 bags for my soil, with free shipping. That will do both batches of seed starting since I used half the soil for round one. So total cost for soil is $32.73

Plant Labels - I paid $6.39 for 100 labels and I will need to order another pack for round 2. So my total for plant labels - $12.78

Total Expenditure for Year One:

$80.00   for light kits
$60.00   for plastic trays
$28.72   for Cow Pots
$200.00 for Seeds
$32.73   for soil
$12.78   for labels

$414.23 subtotal + $33.14 tax = $447.37 total for the first year. 

Now, when I take into account I will be getting 144 nursery pots in total that averages out to $3.11 per pot. 

Our local nursery charges an average of $4.00 per pot for our organic veggies so even with the higher cost of setting up seed starting the first year I am still ahead of the game by $.89 per pot x 144 pots = $128.16 savings the first year. 

Woo hoo!!

That savings will grow significantly in future years as I can reuse the light kits and plastic trays for many years. Also, I only used a portion of most of the seed packets so if I store them correctly in a cool location with no moisture they should last for up to 5 years. 

That will make my costs drop significantly for year 2 - my estimate being:

$28.72   for Cow Pots
$50.00   for Seeds
$32.73   for soil
$12.78   for labels

$124.23 + 9.94 tax + $134.17 for 144 plants = $.93 per plant, for an estimated savings of $3.07 per plant, or a total savings of $442.08 the second year over nursery prices. 

Yes, please! That's a significant savings every year - I'll take it and laugh all the way to the bank!

So, a little extra work on my part every year will add up in a big way. 

And that's not even counting all the money I will save on produce for the year - between what we eat fresh out of the garden and what we freeze for the winter we are looking at a serious amount of money saved just by starting seeds at home!

Our ancestors knew what they were doing.....this was a normal part of living for them. 

I think it's well worth it....what do you think?






















35 comments:

  1. Wow! I really enjoyed this post. It would have been a good thing for me to estimate how much I spend each year on investing in seeds and such. Now, my cost is minimal. I lucked out last year at a yard sale, and found 2 brand new grow lights for $1.00 each! I also invested in a seedling warmer (it's like a heat pad under the plants) to help my seedlings get a good start. I, like you, bought seeds 2 years ago that I am still using. My husband bought an indoor greenhouse for me to use last year. So this year, I have invested.... $0.00! Everything I am doing, I already have, and that feels pretty awesome! I am laughing right along with you about the the bank... it indeed is $$ in our pocket, and health to our bodies, and that is what makes gardening a worthwhile investment :)

    Have a wonderful day with your two precious dogs, they are just adorable!

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    1. Well, there you go - if your investment was zero this year - how many pots of plants will you get? How much does your local nursery charge per pot? That's your savings - isn't it awesome! I knew I was going to have to invest this year to get things started but I look forward to the big savings in the years to come!! You really lucked out with those grow lights - nice buy, my friend!

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  2. For some reason I have not had very much luck with seeds. But every year I try again.
    Brenda

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    Replies
    1. Maybe it's where you are buying them? Maybe try ordering a few from Johnny's Selected Seeds...they are fantastic.

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  3. You go, girl! You've got this gardening thing down! Do you read Mavis Butterfield's blog? If not, you MUST! She has a whole blog devoted to gardening, and she likes to do cost analysis too. Here's the address for her primary blog:
    http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/

    I think you may be kindred spirits! :-) As for me, I enjoy READING about gardening a whole lot more than I actually enjoy gardening...

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha oh well, we all have our hobbies, right, Mimi? I have actually read her blog - I must add it to my blog list so I don't miss her posts because I did find it incredibly interesting - thanks for the reminder!

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  4. Cute picture of the Pansy's. They are all huddled all together watching out the window as if they cant wait to get outside. haha.
    Happy Spring.
    Lisa

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    Replies
    1. I can't wait to put them back outside - my patio looks so naked now!

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  5. You are going to have a great garden. I can't wait too it growing and all the good food you'll be cooking. Blessings,.xoxo,Susie

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    1. I hope so, Susie - last year I didn't have much time to focus on my garden as I was busy moving in. Now I'm ready to dig in!!

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  6. How I envy you! My gardening efforts have been curtailed by an injury, but perhaps I can make a late start of it. I'm quite late for some of the things I had wanted to plant. Can't wait to see your garden's progress!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jean! Sorry to hear you had an injury - hope you are on the mend now in time for spring and summer!

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  7. You my friend are a gardener extraordinaire! I am so impressed! I can't wait to see how everything comes up!

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha, well, I don't know about that.....shucks!

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  8. Replies
    1. You got that right, mountain sister!! :)

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  9. *Bowing down in reference*...I'm impressed! I have no luck with seeds, but it sure would save mucho bucks!

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  10. *Bowing down in reference*...I'm impressed! I have no luck with seeds, but it sure would save mucho bucks!

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    Replies
    1. I'll tell you what I told Brenda...it could be the seeds you're buying. I order mine online from Johnny's and they are awesome!!

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  11. I do mostly seeds and yes it saves money big time! :) I have started them early and just waited to put them in the ground, too...but either way, it is sure cheaper.

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    1. The ones I've started now can either go out earlier (like lettuce, celery, leeks) or they need to be started 6 - 8 weeks prior to planting out. So they should be ok.

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  12. It is so worth it! I plant seeds every year and ,like you, love to see them come up and how quickly they grow! You have an amazing set up there and im eager to see posts of how they all grow. I am planting my seeds today hopefully. Another big benefit is each year i harvest many of my seeds so that is free seeds for next year plus i love to share them with others!

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    1. I can't believe some of mine are coming up just two days after planting - isn't that crazy? I hope you will share your tips on how to save the seeds at the end of the season - that's next!

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  13. I love this post on how you are saving money gardening. :) I would love to start some seeds indoors but well, you know who the plant munching monster (AKA Rufus) would eat them all! I am going to get some going and put them in our covered hot tub area though. I have had great luck with putting the trays of seedlings on top the hot tub cover and that keeps the soil pretty warm since we keep our hot tub at 85F when not in use. I'm glad you moved the strawberry and pansies into your shed. I would have hated for you to lose them to the cold weather.

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    Replies
    1. That's a fantastic idea, Debbie! Oh, that silly Rufus....what a goofball!

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  14. I love this post on how you are saving money gardening. :) I would love to start some seeds indoors but well, you know who the plant munching monster (AKA Rufus) would eat them all! I am going to get some going and put them in our covered hot tub area though. I have had great luck with putting the trays of seedlings on top the hot tub cover and that keeps the soil pretty warm since we keep our hot tub at 85F when not in use. I'm glad you moved the strawberry and pansies into your shed. I would have hated for you to lose them to the cold weather.

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  15. I love your seeds:) how can that be, but I do!
    My garden is humming along, but you will be so sad to know that we had a freaky frost and it killed my nasturtiums that I did grow from seeds:(
    Thank you for these neat tips-Little Mountain Mama!
    And of course for sharing these tips with us at #TOHOT!

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    Replies
    1. They started sprouting in only 2 days, Jemma - can you believe it? I'm very sad that you lost your tomatoes and Nasturtiums - I'd be in tears!! It's not time for us to start tomatoes yet....soon, maybe next weekend.

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  16. Dear Mountain Mama:
    Now this is wonderful and I want to learn to grow my own plants. It has been a long time but I did do this years ago. It totally makes sense! Thanks for sharing the details.

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    Replies
    1. It's been a long time for me as well....I'm learning more this time around!

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  17. This is the first year I have planted seeds and it truly is the way to go!
    Thank you for linking up this wonderful post on Thoughts of Home on Thursday. May you have a glorious Easter!

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  18. This year I planted flower seeds for the first time. In the past, I have always bought them at the nursery, but it is so much less to plant seeds and they actually sprouted.

    Good luck with your produce and thanks for sharing at SYC.

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    Replies
    1. First batch of seedlings is doing well and I'm nearly ready to start on the second batch - this weekend, I think!

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  19. I plant seeds every year, and I get wonderful little seedlngs, than then die before I can get them outside. I buy from another reputable company so it isn't the seeds, it has to be something I am doing wrong. I am thinking the light is part of the problem. I am going to get a grow light this year and not rely on the sun so much. We will see!

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