This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

garden summary

I added up the costs of my gardens for the past three years and tried to estimate the value of the produce. My costs have been high because of fencing my plot 3 years ago, adding the cold frame this year, and the shelves/lights last year. These will each last many years. And its hard to estimate the value of produce, because I think its worth more when its homegrown. In any case, my produce is probably valued about $500- $700/year (which is also about the cost of a yearly CSA share these days). And the garden has been costing me about half of that, even with the recent improvements: $300- $400/ year.

Of course, this summary doesn't add in my time - that would way more than double the yearly value of my garden!

Garden costs

Garden produce

I had fun reading "The 64 Dollar Tomato" recently. Its an old book by now, but I just got around to reading it. Using Mr Alexander's way of calculating, my tomatoes cost me -12 dollars this year! Does that mean I could have sold them for 12 dollars each? Hmmm. Well, that's just because I didn't pay $8,000 to have someone design and install my garden on my estate for me. I wish he had added photos to his book. I bet his garden was beautiful!

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20 Comments:

Blogger Hazel said...

When i moved into this garden a year ago, I had plans to keep a log of all the cost. But I didn't get around to it. The value of homegrown organic veg is so high, in my opinion, any algorithm could not do it justice. I also get so much more from my garden than just produce. As a gardener you will know what I mean. However, your reckoning is proof that growing your own is cost effective. I have begun keeping a list of things planted, harvested and an egg count in the side bar of my blog this year though.

January 04, 2011 10:19 PM

 
Anonymous jsneers said...

I read your blog religiously and it is a source of constant inspiration as I am a gardener around the corner from you, in Cambridge. Right now, my edible garden is very small as I'm learning a bit each year, but your gardens encourage me to add more each year :)

January 04, 2011 10:28 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Some garden bloggers keep a very good tally. I am always impressed with Daphne's. My numbers here are all guesses.

As you said, I always figure an algorithm can't do it justice. But in the end, if you are careful, it provides much more value than cost.

January 04, 2011 10:29 PM

 
Blogger Susie said...

What an interesting thing for a gardener to ponder...

January 04, 2011 10:34 PM

 
Blogger meemsnyc said...

Oh wow, you are so organized!!

January 04, 2011 11:08 PM

 
Blogger Cher' Shots said...

We ended up having to build a fenced in garden after losing crops to deer and rabbits. What we harvest, combined with the joy and exercise we get far outweighs the money we put into it. I never put it in print but I know we are saving money and we have the bonus of knowing we grew it, canned it or froze it. Great entry!

January 04, 2011 11:41 PM

 
OpenID henbogle said...

Daphne inspired me to keep a careful record last year. I weighed everything that came from the garden (still am actually), and assigned a value based on the prices at organic vendors at the farmers markets, which I feel is closest to the quality of my garden.

I was happily surprised that the value of my harvests after costs is currently at $1758, and I am still harvesting leeks and greens and have squash in storage.

You might find the price reports published by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association of interest: http://mofga.org/Publications/OrganicPriceReports/tabid/260/Default.aspx

I am always impressed at how much you produce from your small yard!

January 05, 2011 6:33 AM

 
Anonymous Happy Gardener said...

Very Interesting calculations! You could also offset the cost of driving to the shops, parking, fuel etc against that!

But the real value of your crops is in the satisfaction of having grown them yourself, virtually zero food miles and the pleasure of eating freshly grown veg!

January 05, 2011 9:07 AM

 
Blogger Donna said...

Gardening is therapy for the soul which is priceless!

January 05, 2011 9:45 AM

 
Blogger Rachel said...

I totally agree that homegrown is worth more! Unfortunately I have no idea how to put a price on it, so I will usually just use the highest price per pound I find at the farmers' market or high end grocery store.

January 05, 2011 9:53 AM

 
Anonymous GardenGuy said...

FYI on the page you linked to for The $64 Tomato there are some garden photos and yes, they are gardens I would LOVE to plant in!!

January 05, 2011 10:23 AM

 
Anonymous Marian(LondonUK) said...

My your organised. I spent far too much on seed last year, it can really add up and it is easy to get so excited about new and different varieties you just can't stop yourself from buying it! I aim to be a frugal gardener this year and keep better records of what we pick and eat.
Marian (London UK)

January 05, 2011 11:53 AM

 
Blogger Green Zebra Market Garden said...

I like that you considered your time spent gardening a 'value' rather than a 'cost'.

For market gardeners like myself, time spent gardening suddenly becomes a cost rather than a value (no matter how pleasurable you find gardening). Although, I should factor in the cost of 'time spent' when I price my produce, I really can't. Unfortunately, most non-gardeners do not realize how much time goes into a crop...and for the most part, they are not willing to pay that much (especially when they could just go to Walmart).

January 05, 2011 12:24 PM

 
Blogger Green Zebra Market Garden said...

P.S. Wow! How on Earth do you spend $70 to $100 on seeds each year? That's a lot. You garden spaces don't look that big! Do you actually use all $70 worth each year or does that last you a while?

I wish I could afford to spend that, but I try to keep seed expenses to a minimum (using saved seeds, buying non patented varieties, etc.)

January 05, 2011 12:29 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Oh no. I've been caught. I spend way too much on seeds.....

I just counted the packets in my seed box - 154. Let's see. Most are about $2 - $1.39-$2.99. So I have spent close to $300 ... could that be true? ... on these. Some are 4-5 years old and I plant a few seeds from them each year. So even dividing this collection by 4 years means about $70/year. A few are gifts, some were free, most I mail ordered, which means there was even a $7 shipping fee to be added.

Yes, I love collecting seeds. I also save seeds from my own plants. I have a big bag of Chinese pole beans, a few sunflower varieties, and some chile peppers that I carry over year-to-year. But mostly, I buy seeds.

I have 20 packages of tomato seeds in my collection now. Tomato seeds will last up to 10 years (though some seed types, like carrots and parsnips do not last more than a year or two). I plant a couple seeds of each tomato variety every year. I usually plant about 40 plants every year and give half away and grow the other half in my garden. I try not to order more seeds, but I did see a couple new varieties I liked in a catalog yesterday. And, each package is only a few dollars - the same as a cup of coffee. Its hard to resist.

I could also admit to what I USED to spend on plants. Plants are MUCH more expensive than seeds. A single heirloom tomato plant is usually $3-4 at a nursery. 20 of those would blow my whole (admittedly large) seed budget. I haven't bought a vegetable plant in years - all of mine are home grown from seed.

As far as being a market gardener - what a great thing to do! But yes I'm a hobbyist. Its my relaxation. Not a job. And way preferable to grocery shopping. And I value food I can relate to.

It seems that local sustainable growers are doing better recently. CSA farms and farmers markets are expanding. That's great! Good luck with your crops this year!

January 05, 2011 10:16 PM

 
Blogger Leslie said...

Kathy, So glad you connected with the $64 tomato ... I so felt his pain, though thank God no woodchucks in my yard. Very impressive accounting here ... I kept track of garden output, but NOT the costs. This year I will also keep track of costs ... starting with the SEEDS!!!

January 06, 2011 11:35 AM

 
Anonymous Marian(LondonUK) said...

Hi de hi, well the God of cold viruses laid me down and out of complete virus induced frustation. So between nose wipes, calmly sorted seed with the aid of Lemon & Ginger tea. It seems I don't need to buy too much seed. I have enough Lettuce seed for a small nation! Although the seed catalogues are slowly arriving and I haven't many Cherry Toms or Yellow Courgettes! I have lots of various seed dated for expiry end of this year. Some packaged 2009 and expiry 2010 but my books say some of it is o.k. for 3/4 years dependant of seed , I will give it a whirl.
Marian (London UK)

January 06, 2011 5:52 PM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Leslie, These numbers are all just my recollection. I don't keep track either. I just thought it was worth thinking about it a bit and adding things up.

Marion - Get well soon!

January 06, 2011 9:13 PM

 
Blogger Vanessa said...

I read $64 tomato this year and loved it, I could also relate to everything in it one way or another. Your spending actually makes me feel better about my own spending. Before I started gardening two years ago everyone told me how much money they saved. 2 years later I don't think I have saved a penny but the high quality produce and the fun of it is worth it to me. This year we might be adding a bee hive which is going to again up the expenses since we are pretty sure we have pollination issues. Thanks for posting this it was fun to read!

January 07, 2011 10:02 AM

 
Blogger Green Zebra Market Garden said...

Haha! Yeah, it's hard to say no to "just one more" seed packet when they are so cheap individually...until you realize that you've said "just one more" like fifty times! I am definitely a culprit.

January 07, 2011 12:14 PM

 

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