D. T. Brown's £260 vegetable plots proves a real money saver

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A crop of summer vegetables worth £262.54 at supermarket prices – here the reference point is Waitrose which is certainly not the cheapest as supermarkets go – has been harvested during 2011 from a plot just 30ft (10m) long by 9ft (just under 3m) wide by mail order seedsman D. T. Brown. The company grew 16 different varieties from its catalog, a packet of seed each, combined which would have amounted to £31.46. In many cases only a fraction of the contents of the packet was used, so the seed cost could be spread across two years, making the savings even greater.

The most valuable harvest was achieves from a double row of Climbing Bean Pantheon F1 with a yield from August 11 to September 9 of 8.11kg of tender pods worth £46.22. Other valuable yields included 5.16kg of Chard Bright Lights worth £22.47, 3.43kg fruit valued at £12.22 from just three plants of Tomato Favorita F1 and 9.38kg of Runner Bean Equator with a supermarket value of £37.27. Cucurbits did well on the plot, with three plants of Courgette Atena F1 producing 49 fruits (£14.33), three plants of Courgette Pantheon F1 giving 37 fruits (16.35), and three plants of Squash Sunburst F1 yielding 20 specimens (£9.86).

D. T. Brown's general manager Tim Jeffries explains “The crops received no special treatment. We picked regularly two or three times a week, starting on July 8 and ending on October 4, taking only the best from all the varieties and leaving anything that was 'past-it', so the crop value is on the low side. With better planning and more picking, the spread of the species grown and the value of the crops could have been considerably higher. I appreciate that gardeners also buy pots, trays and compost in order to produce some of the crops, but our experiment shows just how financially worthwhile it is to grow-your-own, with our total harvest worth more than eight times the cost of the seed”.

The figures, as I said already, are based on Waitrose online prices on the day of the harvest for the varieties closest to those which were grown by D. T. Brown. Waitrose was the only online supermarket to offer the full range of vegetables grown in the D. T. Brown vegetable plot.

This experiment, as the company's general manager explained, does give rather weighty proof that grow-your-own is definitely worth every bit of the time and effort and, I would like to add to this once again that you do not have to have a big garden in order to grow food for you and yours.

© 2012