Sunday, March 8, 2009


Every penny counts these days.

I’ve decided to keep a running total of any and all outlays for this year's crops, and this solo "Eco-nomics" entry will become a box in any subsequent gardening entries written throughout the season. But once I start harvesting, I'll tally up what it would have cost to buy at the supermarket. So far, the tally is:

Peat Pellets $ 5.50
John Scheepers Order $24.25
ShopRite 5/$1 Bin:
Buttercup Squash
Butternut Squash
Total: $ 0.60
Home Depot
(Seeds 40% off packet price)
Red carrots
Rhubarb Chard
Total: $ 2.03
(2 of 3 40% off packet price)
Rainbow Chard
Kwintus Pole Beans
Total: $ 5.18

Grand Total: $36.96

To be honest, I was a little surprised that I have laid out close to forty dollars so far on this venture. The Scheepers order was my biggest expense so far, but I love that catalog and its offerings, whether sturdy backbone basics of the home garden or esoteric heirloom goodies you won’t find anywhere else. Each packet is worth every penny. Plus, it is based in Connecticut, a neighboring state, so I may as well keep my semi-disposable income in the metro area.

The other items, generally little nickel, dime and dollar outlays, added up as well. But that’s about all I’ll be spending for a while, as far as I can think.

Now, if you’re reading this and thinking, “I’m starting from scratch and could never grow all of that for forty bucks,” you’re somewhat correct, yet you also could do it for less.

I’m lucky in that all of my seeds from last year are still viable, and I will be planting from almost all the packets. I don't use pesticides or fertilizers, so I'm financially ahead there, too. I use composted leaf humus from my town, which is free; I just have to shovel it into bags and bins in the trunk of my car. Plus, I compost all kitchen scraps in the ground throughout the fall, winter and spring. I will disclose that I have (or had, I spread them this weekend) two 40-lb bags of dehydrated composted manure left over from last year, so I’m ahead there as well. But once I hit the nursery for more, it will be documented here and added to the running total.

And if I weren’t so crazy, fantasizing about the backyard equivalent of a fruited plain with amber waves of grain, I probably wouldn’t choose so many perceived oddities, whether for color, origin or flavor. I really looked at the 5/$1 seed stand at the grocery store this week, and it had just about everything anyone could need to first, get started, and second, really produce the produce: lettuces, two tomato varieties, some herbs, some root vegetables, bush beans, peas, lima beans, radishes – 15 packets of those seeds would be only $3.00. The number of seeds per packet is decidedly fewer, but for 20 cents, how could you go wrong?

However, I like climbing crops, for example: pole beans, the Italian zucchini, and anything else I can train on a trellis. I have limited space, so I try to grow up instead of out.

And yes, I get overly ambitious. And yes, I like making the mess and relishing in all the anticipation involved in growing seeds indoors. But that’s half the fun of planning the garden.

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