Sunday, 6 October 2013

Allotments, how much do they cost ?

This year we decided to try and work out how much having an allotment costs us and to see if having one saves any money. I have read stories of people being charged as much as £108 per year for a full plot, which works out at around £2 per week, I suspect most people spend much more than that on veg a week.

Okay firstly this isn't by any stretch a comprehensive study, it's based on this years costs for us personally and it's off set against how much buying the veg we've grown would have cost had we got it from our local supermarket, this is also based on the veg we've grown at the allotment, and does not include the stuff we've grown at home in the garden.

Our first harvest -

Carrots,spuds,peas,broad beans,onions,rhubarb

I have also based the pricing on what we would have bought, and even though you could argue that as we don't use any chemicals of any kind on our plot it's all totally organic veg, I haven't priced it as organic, as I said it's all based on what we would have bought from the supermarket.

The costs, this is what we've spent on seeds and the rental of the plot this year.

  • Rent = £36 (ours is a half plot, a full plot would be £72 for the year)
  • Seeds = £10 (most of our seed is saved from previous years) this also includes the seeds we bought to grow in the garden, like tomatoes,cucumbers,chillies and peppers.
  • Onion sets = £2 for reds and whites.
  • I also spent £4 on some reduced price seed spuds.
  • And I got some reduced price onions and shallots for £2
  • Total cost = £54 (which works out at about £1 a week over the year)
Not bad really, however I should point out that we now save a lot of seeds, so although it's cost much less this year our first year was more expensive as we had to buy a load of seeds, so I guess you could say the savings increase with time, if you save seeds and look out for bargains, and it's worth checking freecycle and other similar sites, we got all our strawberry plants for free.

Onto what we've grown and harvested so far, this doesn't include stuff that's still growing (there's a few squashes and some other stuff) and it also doesn't include things that will be over wintering, like the swedes (I planted quite a few)

  • Strawberries - 1.5kg
  • Rhubarb - 1.5kg
  • Peas - 2kg (un-shelled) which worked out at 821g once shelled.
  • Onions - 2.2kg
  • New potatoes - 9kg (whites)
  • Red potatoes - 15.5kg
  • Runner beans - 4.8kg
  • Carrots - 1.7kg
  • Broad beans (un-shelled) which worked out at 2.3kg once shelled.
  • Patty Pans - 5 combined weight = 2.6kg (so far)
  • Courgettes - 5kg (so far)
  • Parsnips - 1.4kg
  • Corn - 5kg (40 usable cobs) smaller cobs saved for next years seeds.
  • Pumpkins - 10 (various sizes) combined weight = 8.2kg (so far)
  • Beetroot - 780g (so far)
  • Winter squashes - 3 combined weight = 1.75kg (so far)
  • Turnips - 2 combined weight 200g (so far)

All that looks like this -

I much prefer gardening to shopping.

Right, so how much would all that have cost had we bought it? I've priced things up at the prices and weights for when they were in season, so for example the strawberries are currently (as of October 2013) £2 for 227g (not a lot of berries per punnet) in the summer they were again £2 but for 400g and working on that basis then 1.5kg of strawberries works out at about £7.50

  • Strawberries - £7.50 for 1.5kg (based on £4 for 400g)
  • Rhubarb - £5.55 for 1.5kg (based on £1.50 for 400g)
  • Peas - £1.31 for 821g of shelled peas (based on peas at £1.60 per kg) our local supermarket did not have fresh peas in the pod this year, so this price is based on a bag of frozen peas.
  • Onions (reds) - £1.20 for 1.2kg (based on £1 per kg)
  • Onions (whites) - £1.20 for 1.2kg (based on £1 per kg)
  • New potatoes - £9 for 9kg (based on £1 per kg)
  • Red potatoes - £15.50 for 15.5kg (based on £1 per kg)
  • Runner beans - £20 for 4kg (based on £5 per kg) we saved 800g for seeds.
  • Carrots - £1.70 for 1.7kg (based on £1 per kg)
  • Broad beans - £16 for 4kg (based on £4 per 500g) this is for beans still in the pods.
  • Patty Pans (culinary squash) - £10 for 5 (based on £2 per squash)
  • Courgettes - £7 for 5kg (based on £1.40 per kg)
  • Parsnips - £2.23 for 1.4kg (based on £1.49 per kg)
  • Corn - £20 for 20 packs with 2 cobs in each pack (current price £1 per pack)
  • Pumpkins (culinary pumpkin) - £11.50 for 10 (based on £1.50 per pumpkin)
  • Beetroot - £2 for 780g (based on 80p per 300g)
  • Winter squash - £6 for 3 (based on £2 per squash)
  • Turnips - £1.50 for 2 (based on 75p per turnip)
Total price of veg grown if we'd bought it =£139.19

So £139.19 minus the costs = £85.16 which is pretty good if you ask me.

And this doesn't count the stuff that still needs to be harvested, it also doesn't count the stuff that will be over wintering.

Had I priced this all up for organic veg prices it would have been quite a lot more, obviously this is based on our personal shopping preferences and there's a fair bit of variation between supermarkets, so this figure is not exact, but it does show that having an allotment is worth it, and even though it's taken us 3 years to get to this stage we should in theory save money from now on, which makes up for the first couple of years where we probably didn't save that much.

And you can make savings by keeping seeds from the things you grow, you can even grow things from supermarket bought veg, just save the seeds, and not only is it good exercise you know where the veg comes from, and you know exactly what’s been done to it and you get to grow and eat great looking veg.

Like these squashes -

Winter is looking tasty.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Playing devil's advocate, what is your labour cost at national minimum wage? OK, counter argument, what is the cost of a years gym membersip lol

    1. A good point, labour costs would probably factor in more if we were growing for profit, or to supply a kitchen of some kind, but as a hobby it's got to be cheaper than the gym plus you get to eat the fruits of your labour so to speak.

  2. Actually the question is, would you have been doing paid work if you were not at the allotment. If the answer is no then the labour rate is utterly irrelevant. After all no one pays you to watch eastenders or corrie (though the argument could be made they should :-))