Frugal Living 

Garden Update: 174.5 oz. of Vegetables

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It’s been quite a while since the last garden update and I’m happy to report that our total haul of vegetables is now a respectable 174.5 oz. according to our trust free postage scale.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 22 oz. Roma Tomatoes
  • 3.9 oz Patio Tomatoes
  • 73.9 oz. Beefsteak Tomatoes
  • 1.4 oz Green Peppers
  • 8.8 oz. Red Peppers
  • 61.5 oz. Eggplants
  • 3 oz. Cayenne

The total value, according to recent vegetable prices, is about $20 compared to about $98 spent on planters, plants, and soil (this doesn’t include labor or water).At first, when I saw how many ounces we’d gotten, I thought we would easily break even… obviously I don’t know how much stuff costs at the per ounce level because we’re only about a quarter of the way there. 174.5 ounces sounds very impressive but it’s really not a lot compared to the hauls I’ve seen others get.

I think the biggest handicap for us is the fact that everything is in planters. The tomato plants have a tremendous amount of potential that simply is wasted on pots. While the pots are pretty big, nothing beats the ground and letting tomatoes grow to their full potential.

But, you play the cards you’re dealt and so far we’re doing pretty good as novice gardeners. (There are plenty of everything hanging off the plants, so we haven’t finished harvesting yet)

{ 7 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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7 Responses to “Garden Update: 174.5 oz. of Vegetables”

  1. What do you plan on doing different next year? My wife and I may want to take the plunge and give it a try so any advice would be great.

  2. Glenn Lasher says:

    Well, from a purely economic POV, it was a loser, sure. Gardens can go either way, depending on what you do.

    That said, though, you have to consider the other advantages of gardening:
    1. It tastes better if you grow it yourself.
    2. It gives you something to care for (rather like a pet).
    3. Whatever you reap from your garden benefits the environment by reducing transportation costs.

    What is missing that gives commercial producers the edge for cost is:
    1. Economy of scale
    2. Sense of “good enough” versus “perfect”
    3. Hordes of low-cost labourers to do the work
    4. Displaced costs
    5. Mechanization

    Some things that can improve your return:
    1. Save seed rather than purchase it.
    2. Get as much re-use of your existing organic materials as possible (i.e. compost)

    On another note, I have been wanting to try hydroponics. My situation doesn’t really call for it, though, so I haven’t gotten around to it. Your situation, on the other hand, sounds like it is screaming out for it.

  3. jim says:

    The harvesting isn’t done quite yet! 🙂

    Next year I think we’ll use fewer plants, though our greatest cost this year was “capital” (pots, compost, etc) that can be reused.

    Hydroponics is a good idea though…

  4. Marcus says:

    Glad to see the results of your garden. To truly determine actual costs, you will need to amortize the cost of the hard goods over a number of years. I have pots over 15 years old.

    If you are going to resuse the growing medium, then you need to take steps to ‘rotate’ it – can you mix it together and add other organic material and bring it up to a decent temperature to kill disease, weed seeds etc. Other wise I would toss it.

    The ‘black’ bottom on the Roma Tomatoes is a Calcium deficiency, called Blossom end Rot, quite common in container grown tomatoes and certain parts of the country in native soil. Causes can be from not enough calcium in the soil and overwatering.

    Plus to get true costs, I always factor in a “It tastes better” because I grew it and I now what I added to it.

  5. Hey Jim it might be a money loser. But if the economy goes a little worser 🙂 you’d be the clear winner since you know how to put food on the table..
    Now if you could buy some cows for alternative milk streams..

  6. LAL says:

    One of the highest paying back plants is basil. You can grow them fast and well in the pots and then use them all year to make homemade fresh pesto! I love fresh pesto!

    Leaves, pinenuts, olive oil and blend! Do you know how expensive Pesto is?

  7. I’ve loved this ongoing story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Hey: the pots ran up your costs this year, but you’ll be able to reuse them for future crops. Over time, you should recover that expense. Right?

    True it is that tomatoes grow better in the ground. You might find, though, that cherry tomatoes do pretty well in pots–they like hanging pots, if you have a beam sturdy enough to support a good-sized hanging box or plastic pot.

    And LAL is right on about the basil. Most herbs like pots…some of them seem to do better in pots than in the ground, oddly enough. Once I got tarragon to grow in the center hole of a cinderblock (I’d used the cinderblock as part of a garden’s outer perimeter) when it absolutely positively would NOT grow in the ground. Lettuce grows well in pots, too.

    Just planted some bush peas (from seed) in a big pot: we’ll see if that works!


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