Sunday, April 19, 2009

The costs of gardening and other updates

Friday afternoon around 4:30, my daughter and I took advantage of the 70-degree heat and headed over to the Minton Stable Garden. The children outnumbered the adults; at one point I counted eight, and those were only the ones that were ex utero. The oldest, my eight-year-old, helped water the plants in our plot. The spinach is now about an inch high, but the lettuce has yet to take off, with a leaf span of not quite a centimeter across.

Also coming up are tulips and a few perennials, including echinacea and black-eyed susans. California poppies, an annual, have self-seeded from last year, their thin, light green tendrils peeking out of the soil. Asa, my plot neighbor, alerted me that her raspberry plants, located about a foot away from the border of my strawberry bed, were starting to send runners underground, and wanted to know if it was okay if she could pull any she found invading my plot. I told her not to worry about it; if she was able to take care of it that was fine, but I didn't mind pulling them out as I handled my regular weeding. The only real issue I had last year with her raspberries involved trying to keep my daughter from eating them.
I took a few photos, including this wide shot above. I try to avoid close-ups of children out of respect for families' privacy. My friend Terry suggested the shot below of this row of plots, starting with mine in the foreground. Next is Asa's and you can see that she has laid down some salt marsh hay to keep down the weeds.
Last year this much was scarce, but nearby Allandale Farm has managed to get a shipment already, so last week we bought a bale of it for the home and community garden plots. This leads me to the latest update of my ongoing calculation of my food growing costs for the season:

MSG annual plot dues: $28.00
Bale of salt hay w/tax: $15.75
New total: $164.67

It'll take a few months to reap anything to offset these expenses, but it should be worth it.


Bryan Bunch said...

At least you can find salt hay--I have not seen any where we now live in upstate NY, but used to be able to get it when we lived in Westchester County NY. My biggest single cost each year is a kind of composted wood material sometimes called Sweet Peat--I buy a couple of cubic yards--but I may spend more on real peat used in making my porous soil retain moisture. Since I buy a bale of peat several times in the spring, it is hard to keep track of how much I really spend.

Dan said...

Looks like a busy place with the fine weather we had. Good to hear things a starting to grow outdoors in your plot.

I should really add up what my garden costs but I am sure it would be scary. Maybe next year my garden might not be a money pit.

Sally said...

Mulch and growing media seem to be the big ticket items! Luckily at the MSG we'll be getting free compost, as the mayor promised. At least this year.

Dan, I see you investing a lot in your cold frame and other items, and like my plant light they will last a few years. And I think that the variety of tomatoes and other vegetables you are starting will be worth the cost.