Thursday 3 August 2017

Eat Healthy On A Budget: The Vege Garden

Eating healthy is expensive. There's no denying that. But how can we make it more affordable? Since I am on a weight loss journey myself, and prefer to have a healthy diet anyway I thought it'd be fun to document ways to eat healthy on a budget.

The first thing we wanted to try was a vege garden. Camille has had several vege gardens in the past, but this is the first time I've ever had one myself. And I can't even begin to tell you how much it excites me!

There's something really incredible about eating produce you've grown yourself, but is it any cheaper? This is what I really wanted to find out.

I live on a 5 acre block in the Far North (not too far from our 65 acre orchard), but the soil here is pretty terrible. I'd guesstimate that it's about 98% sand, which isn't the most ideal conditions for a vege garden. The solution? A 6m x 6m raised garden bed.

Top soil delivery. We constructed the frame around this then spread it out by hand (damn that was labour intensive)
The outlay for this garden was definitely more expensive than I originally anticipated. All up the timber and 10m3 of top soil came to $518.00 NZD. We then bought a bunch of seedlings (and carrot seed tape) from our local garden centre, which came to $150.00 NZD.

Obviously this is a huge outlay, but this really is a massive garden. Most people wouldn't need a garden this size, and it'll probably even exceed our needs. Top soil up here is also quite expensive (we'd be able to get it basically free back in Auckland thanks to Dad's job) so that needs to be added into the equation. You also don't necessarily need to use new timber like we did. Macrocarpa railway sleepers and recycled wood are often used.

Of course, if you're allowed to dig a garden in your yard (and have suitable soil) then the outlay is hugely reduced - but that's not always the case for everyone.

About a week after the seedlings were planted
Then came the most fun part, what to plant? We decided on:
  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Cabbage

  • Lettuce

  • Beetroot

  • Carrots

  • Garlic

  • Chinese Cabbage

  • Leeks

  • Spring Onions

  • Red Onions

  • Celery

  • Spinach

  • Silverbeet

  • Garlic Chives

  • Broad Beans
It's been about 9 weeks since we planted everything, and I'm happy to say that most things seem to be thriving. The celery look to be struggling a bit, and the carrots didn't pop through at all - but for the most part, everything seems to be doing really well.

I think we'll be eating the Chinese Cabbages soon, and already we have harvested some of the spring onions. It's all so exciting, I can't even tell you.

Spring Onions ready to go
To reduce the cost, we're going to try and let some stuff go to seed, as well as growing anything new from seed instead of buying seedlings. We have about 50 million egg trays that we've kept for the sole reason of growing seedlings, so we will definitely be putting those to use soon.

Once the garden is really up and running properly, we estimate that it will save us at least $20 a week. That might not sound like much to you, but that adds up to over $1000 a year. Think about all that extra money and how it can be saved. Buying a house? It all adds up!

If you have a vege garden too - we'd love to hear all about it below.

Thanks for viewing!


  1. I like the idea of a veggie garden but realistically we don't have the space. If/when we do have our own home, I would like to keep a garden for the expensive stuff we eat a lot of like cucumbers and I would love to have a few fruit trees like lemons and figs and limes.

  2. Christel Hansen4 August 2017 at 02:47

    Would you have any space for "bucket style gardens"? We're going to do a bit of this, because I want to experiment & share for people who don't have the space! First experiment is going to be potatoes in a bucket! I'm so excited for it hahahaha
    That would be awesome! We have a little lime tree here but I stupidly left them on the tree too long and they got real bitter and gross, hahahaha! oxoxo

  3. This is so cool to see! Like @samanthaminny:disqus, we don't really have the space for it, our yard is awkwardly laid out and very shaded so veges struggle. I have some planted in one section but it all went a bit shit while I was pregnant and too cumbersome to get in there and tend to it properly. Funnily enough, the only thing doggedly hanging on is the celery, but it's a bit dry due to the growing conditions. I'm hoping to try again soon, maybe with some strategically placed planters in the rare sunny spots!

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