Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's Resolution

I don't usually do resolutions for the new year. For me trying to succeed in a goal can happen at anytime and the new year is not special. But for the first time in decades, I'm making a New Year's resolution and since it is on this blog, you just know it is going to be related to my garden.

I've actually been thinking about this since last July, but it was too late then. The new year is a perfect time to start it. I want to see how much I spend on my garden and how much I harvest. Last summer there was talk about the $64 tomato. Surely I don't spend that much. Surely I make more in the produce I harvest than I spend on my garden. Or do I?

I do feel like I'm cheating however. Previous years I've bought seedlings at the garden center. This year I'm not - well maybe a couple of tomato plants or random things to fill in if my seedlings die, but mostly I'm working from seed. Also last year I made a ton of compost, so this year I need to buy no bags. My style will remind me more of my early labor intensive days gardening as opposed to my more recent years when I've been lazier busier.

To keep track of this I will have to start now. I've already put my first order into Pinetree. Or tried to. I have two credit cards to my name. I use one and pay it off each month. The other is my backup card, the one I can use if the first one is canceled. Well indeed the first one had fraudulent charges on it. Chase called up Saturday morning. Our number had been taken on Friday. There were several charges that weren't ours. They are exceedingly good about picking up on fraud, however they also call us all the time thinking there is fraud where there is none. I've taken to calling them when I travel so they don't cancel it on me. Well they said they would FedEx a new one to us on Monday and we would get it on Tuesday. Monday I blithly put in an order to Pinetree with my other card. Then when we went out to eat that night, it was rejected. Oh no. I figured they though there was fraud since I was actually using it and I don't usually. I called them. They had canceled it in September. They didn't even tell us or give us any warning at all. Geez. Pinetree called wanting a real credit card, but I had none to give them. I finally got back to them today with my new card in hand. And though it was put in before the new year, it really belongs to next year's total. So $35.85 in seed, $13.95 for the oriental gardening tool that one of the blogs raved about (I forgot who, or I'd link) and $6.95 for shipping. The total: $56.75.

I am wondering how to count how much I harvest. I'll do it by weight, but how much is a pound of lettuce worth? Should I go to Whole Foods, Wilson's Farm or the Farmer's Market to find my price? My produce is organic, but hardly certified (my seed and bought seedlings usually aren't organic). Do I use the higher organic price or the lowest price I find? Do I average prices or just take the median? Do I count the food I give away or just the food I eat myself? And the most telling question: am I going to still be in this house to harvest my veggies or will I move this spring? It wouldn't be quite an appropriate count if I have to move.


  1. Happy New Year Daphne! And I wish you luck with your garden resolutions!

  2. I started to comment, but it got so long I used it as my blog!

    Happy New Year, Daphne. May 2009 be a great gardening year for you.

  3. Wow, that sounds like a lot of record keeping. Don't forget the entertainment , the aromatherapy treatments, the mental health benefits, the bird songs,the floral arrangements... You get a lot more from gardening than vegetables. Whatever you decide to do I wish you a fabulous garden year in 2009.

  4. Hi Daphne,
    Good luck with your New Year's resolution and good luck with your year as well.
    I shall be watching your blog to see how the finances work out. I'm pretty sure that my own garden runs at a small deficit but if I factor in the entertainment, the health benefits and sheer enjoyment I get, I know it's a great investment

  5. I don't know that you need to go to all that trouble unless you really are considering this a scientific inquiry. Why not just count up generally what you harvest, then factor in the seeds, water, potting soil, fertilizer, whatnot and see what you saved from your grocery bills where you normally shop for those items? I think that would be close enough. And anyway, I'm not sure it's all about the $ savings, really - you're saving the planet from some food miles carbon, packaging waste, etc while also doing something that you enjoy and that nurtures your soul as well as the soil. Happy New Year!

  6. Thanks for all your wishes. I hope you all have a great new year in the garden too.

    As to the entertainment value, yes that is why I garden in the first place. I love gardening. There is no way to put a value on that. Even if I were just growing flowers and never picked them, I would love being out in the garden. During the summer my high blood pressure drops and my doctor wants to take me off my meds. Gardening is good for you.

    My real desire is to see how much I really harvest from my garden. Sure I have a general idea, but I've never actually weighed my produce. I'm curious. Once I have those numbers in a spreadsheet it should be easy to figure out what it is worth dollar wise. Keeping track of what I spend is easy. I don't spend much. And again I'm curious. It is in my nature. I often do experiments in the garden to see if something would work. Often my experiments fail, but that isn't much of an issue. I've learned something.

  7. Daphne, my friend EG from "Our Engineered Garden" had a great suggestion for an affordable garden scale. A hanging fish scale can be purchased for less than $20, whereas a produce scale is $100+! It could be tied to an overhead pole/tree branch/whatever and a bucket could hang from the hook to hold the produce.

  8. I did look at garden scales and said "nope" because of the price. I do own a postage scale that goes up to 5lbs. I certainly couldn't leave it outside as the rain would kill it. My kitchen scale only goes up to 12oz and is pretty useless. I'll look into fish scales. They might work.