Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The benefits and costs of gardening update

We've been having yo-yo temperatures these past few weeks--a day or two near 80 (as in the picture above) and then back down to the 60s. Luckily the nighttime lows haven't dipped to frost levels so we need not worry much about the welfare of our tomatoes. However, those plants do seem to have gone on strike, refusing to grow. Like the Boston Globe writers who rejected a pay cut, they're unhappy with the conditions.

One bright spot in the overcast weather is that it might help delay my lettuce from bolting, which is good news considering how much there still is. I've picked the equivalent of another Olivia's container of leaves and four small heads of Romaine for potluck and home salads. My not-so-scientific estimate is that two heads is the equivalent of one from the supermarket. At Whole Foods market today, a head of organically-grown Romaine cost $2.49 a head.

The strawberries in my Minton Stable Garden plot have not been deterred by our little cold spell. At this point, my family and I have picked about 3 1/2 pints. I suppose I should find a good recipe for a torte in order to keep up; so far the only ways we have been enjoying the strawberries have been 1) straight up, 2) on top of a Junior's cheesecake my husband brought home from Brooklyn last week, and 3) in a fruit cake my daughter baked from a recipe that was part simple cake instructions found on the Internet and part improvisation of what we had in the fridge. I looked for organically-grown strawberries at Whole Foods, but found only the conventionally-grown Driscoll's at $3.99 a pint, so I'll go with that.

Today was not all gain, however. I had to pick up a roll of gardening twine to finish making a trellis for my pole beans to climb; that set me back $2.40, including tax.

So, the up-to-date benefits tally is:
Previous total: $3.59
Container of salad greens: $3.59
2 heads of Romaine equivalent $4.98
3 1/2 pints of strawberries $13.97

Total benefits: $29.13

And the costs:
Previous total: $164.67
Gardening twine: $2.40

Total costs: $167.07

So the total balance taking benefits and cost into account is -$137.94.

If this sort of analysis interests you, then you should also check out Daphne's blog. On the right side she is keeping her tally. She is using a more scientific approach of measuring her yield by the pound; I had thought of doing the same but I don't have a scale and didn't want to add to my expenses. Daphne is also operating in the red, but given the variety and scope of her garden I think she has a better chance than I do of ending the season in the black. I'm looking forward to seeing if she does.


Daphne said...

I love that someone else is doing this too. When Burpee claimed with just $50 you can harvest a $1250 of veggies I just had to laugh. I consider myself fairly frugal in the garden, but there are so many things we buy to keep the garden productive. Which reminds me. I need to go get some more twine too. I just ran out and my peas are growing above their last line of twine on the trellis.

Siren said...

I am really having a hard time getting a lot of things to grow. But it being the first year, I am learning a lot. I think next year I am going to plant the lettuces, peas, tomatoes and herbs in different spots in the garden altogether. That should hopefully give a bigger yield.

I got my first salad last night and am happy but am realizing that the rest of the lettuce is never going to grow. Every time I see someone else's garden blog, I just feel like - "I WISH I'd planted that!!"

Sally said...

Daphne, sounds like Burpee's claim meant the money for seeds only, but even that seems like a stretch!

Siren, sorry to hear that you are having a hard time. I've had lots of experience with trial and error. I think trying different locations is a good idea. Congrats on your first salad!