Monday, February 8, 2010

Harvest Monday - 8 February 2010

I hadn't put my accounting up before, but I think it is time. I've spent a lot of money on the garden already. It is typically how I spend. I think of what I need for the year and get it all at once. I like to buy from one company if I can because it saves on shipping. Or it does if you can remember everything you were going to buy and put it in. I failed miserably at that task this year.

My first order I talked about already. Seeds from Fedco at: $33.90. Then a couple of weeks later I ordered from Fedco Organic Growers Supply. If Fedco were a normal garden company I could have bought them together, but they aren't. They have several different branches of the co-op and you have to order from each one separately. From them I got:

  • Buff Oats OG (hulless oats)
  • Peas/Vetch/Oats mix for a cover crop
  • Legume innoculant (works on beans, peas and vetch)
  • Micro soil blocker
  • 2" soil blocker
  • Orchard netting
  • 2 1/2 gallon sprayer (my old one broke last year after about 20 years)

This gave me a total of $170.80. $100 of that was a birthday present from my MIL and $50 was from a gift certificate I won from another gardening blog. Which gives me a total of $20.80 out of my pocket.

Now if you will notice I ordered two soil blockers and forgot to add in the part that lets you use them together (putting the micro block into the 2" block when potting up). Whoops! So much for buying things all at once. But GrafixMuse came to my rescue and told me about a 20% off coupon from Johnny's so I ordered it from them along with the two other things I forgot about.

  • Soil blocker insert set
  • Sluggo (trying it for the first time this year)
  • Bt dust (for my winter moths in the spring that eat my blueberry flowers)

That added up to $26.03. Now if someone could just tell me how to put those inserts into my soil blocker I'd be all set. There were no instructions.

At my local hardware store they had a beautiful display of Blotanical Interest seeds. I still haven't gotten my onion seeds on backorder. So I picked up Ringmaster, which the seed packet claims is a storage onion but not nearly as long keeping as Varsity the one on backorder. Now my eye did get drawn to the tomatoes since they had a huge selection of great ones, but I resisted. I already have more tomato varieties than I can grow.

And speaking of seed I'd like to thank Miss M for the leek seed that showed up on my doorstep the other day. Yes I've been sent yet more seed. Where oh where will it all go. Resisting seed at the store is so much easier when you know you have too much at home. It is hard not too look though.

Now I still have to buy new tomato cages. I want some good ones that fold, so that is going to be a pretty penny. I've seen two types. Round ones that you can get 6' high or square ones at 32" which you can stack two high. Two square ones are more expensive than one round one so I'll probably go with round. To get twelve I'd need to spend $200. Ouch! I could always buy a roll or two of concrete reinforcing wire, like I've done in the past. It does get rusty fast. It doesn't fold at all so storage has always been in issue. If anyone has used either of the above, please let me know how you liked them.

So now onto the tally. Spent:

  • Amortized Fence $60
  • Fedco Seed $33.90
  • Fedco Supply $20.80
  • Johnny's $26.03
  • Hardware store $1.89

Harvest in pounds: 2.2 oz
Harvest total: $0.21 (hey don't laugh!)
Yearly spent: $140.73
Yearly earned: $-140.52

Until things start coming in this time of the year is really pretty sad. I spend a lot and I won't harvest a thing until April (if I'm lucky, otherwise May).

If you would like to help me believe that harvests still exist, put your name and URL into Mr. Linky below.


  1. I did manage to harvest a leek Saturday, but otherwise, this long cold spell is severely cramping my gardening style!

    It is the season for gardening spending, isn't it? I'm pondering some capillary mat for seed starting. Still pondering so far.... have you ever used it?

  2. Oh, I'm not even looking at how much I spent, I'm embarrassed ! On the other hand, I would've spent as much on pretties so it's all good. I can't expect to get my money back these first few years anyway. I've got infrastructure and hardware costs to consider also. For me, it's all part of the learning curve.

    I'm glad the seeds got to you. I skipped the instructions, of course, but a maturity date would've been helpful. Unfortunately there was none on the packets.

  3. OUCH! That's a lot of money for tomato supports. I have no idea what to do about my tomatoes this year. I keep going back and forth between cages and finding a different solution. I was considering making cages from concrete reinforcement wire as well but am also concerned about storage. Then I thought about making the cages in 3 slightly different diameters so that they fit within one another in storage. I don't least we have to a few months to think about it right?

  4. Hmmm...I'm having trouble with your Mr. Linky for some reason.

  5. Thomas, I tried to log into their site to see what is going on, but can't do that either. I think their server is down right now. Hopefully it will be back up soon. I'll keep checking on it today.

  6. Ali, I've never used capillary mats. I've thought about them in the past, but I was told not to use them for soil blocks since the roots could grow into them.

    Miss M, I'm sure I could look them up online, but I'll probably just plant them and find out.

    Thomas, it is a lot. I'll probably keep debating with myself until right before I plant and then need to get them up.

  7. My garden economics do the same thing... big expenditure at the outset of the year with very little spent thereafter. The garden production does not kick into high gear until June so I show a net loss for the first half of the year until I reach the magical break even point.

    Good really well made tomato cages are worth the investment. I have several cages that I bought in 1992 that look good and are functioning beautifully. My personal favorite is the square folding ones (can be stacked too) sold by Gardener's Supply. Other places have similar ones but they are not nearly as well constructed as the ones Gardener's Supply sells.

  8. Where's Mr. Linky?

    I don't do accounts though I really should. I do try to spend as little as possible lest my hubby think I've gone off the deep economic end.

    I like tomato cages either made by looping metal mesh or some sort of weave support structure. Never seen the folding ones, intersting. Truth be told, most of my tomato 'cages' are large branches...

  9. kitsapFG, last year it wasn't until July that I broke even, but I plant later than you do. My ground will be frozen until mid March probably.

    Ottawa Gardener, looping mesh is what I did twenty years ago. I might do it again, but I really have storage issues over the winter with them. When I move I don't know what my storage will be like so I want something that will be smaller. I might go cheap, but I might splurge. And Mr. Linky is having issues today. Their server seems to be having trouble. Hopefully it will be up soon. If not just leave a link in the comments.

  10. I'd hate to have to write down everything I spent this year, although I'm sure it would still be worth it. For tomato supports this year, I plan to have J build me an A frame support with heavy duty twine to vine the tomatoes up. He made one last year for his garden from my specs and it worked wonderfully. This year it's my turn!

  11. Daphne, we're done with tomato cages. (Wish I could send you mine! I have enough for your needs.)

    In this climate, 7 to 12 feet is the normal range. We grew all our tomatoes in not-quite-full-sun conditions this year, and none of them were really supported by the cages. We were trying everything. I want to try a single plant this year in ground-sprawl mode, just to see what that's like. Otherwise, we're improvising supports from sturdier materials. :)

  12. I love the tall tomato cages that collapse for storage!

    I try to be frugal in my garden spending, but sometimes I just splurge as it makes me happy. I don't have a lot of least this one feeds us.

    For some reason, I thought you already had soil block makers. I am looking forward to seeing how you like them.

  13. I can't bring myself to tally what I've spent on garden supplies, I doubt it would keep me from spending more.

    The concrete reinforcing mesh is my choice of tomato cage material, but I have plenty of space to store them and I don't care if they rust.

  14. Yea Mr. Linky is back up.

    The Mom, lots of people tell me that. I find that it keeps me from spending more, but in reality it would probably be only about $50 more total. But the tomato supports might make me change my mind.

    Meredith, I have some that want to be 7' tall but the reality is that I can't harvest them that tall anyway and I chop them off when they get too tall for me. If I can't reach them without a ladder, It just won't happen.

    GrafixMuse, I do have one soil block maker - the 1 1/2" one. I used it a lot last year. I figured I used them enough to get all the little ones so I can choose which ones I want.

  15. I generally spend around $500/year on gardening, but haven't got everything I need constructed yet.

  16. Good of you to keep up the posts despite no harvest. Let us know where you find the folding tomato cages.
    Also, I have never used soil blockers. I'm not sure exactly what they're for...

  17. I think it's time for me to start new spreadsheet to keep track of what I'm spending too. I'm looking forward to the seed starting process soon and I know I'll be buying soil mix. As far as cages, I'm thinking of trying the wood frame and twine approach this year because I get to drastically increase the garden space but don't want to spend a lot on cages. We'll see as the time gets closer.

  18. I'm in for Harvest Monday! It was touch and go getting my blog up, as my internet access was knocked out by a raging rainstorm on Saturday afternoon, and they just got it fixed a bit ago.

    I have yet to find a satisfactory method of containing my tall tomatoes. I might try to devise something of wood this year.

  19. RE the tomato supports, something like this might work for you Daphne:,21135,1174857,00.html

    You dismantle it every year, making storage less of an issue. I based my ugly wire fencing trellis on that idea, and have been pretty happy with it.

  20. Arghh, the link was bad, here it is:

  21. I don't keep track of spending because I'm so in the hole (think massive hardscape "improvements") that I'm going to break even about 2025.
    That said, I love concrete reinforcing tomato cages but can't store them. I tried the flat mesh last year and that worked okay, but not perfectly.
    I think 12' 2x2 poles, buried very deeply and somehow linked at the top or something? Then maybe paired twine horizontals that you can wind the tomatoes through. There apparently isn't a perfect structure. I'm going to have to ask Denise and Kevin what they plan this year.

  22. Sounds like some pricey tomato cages! I use ones from home depot that are much thicken then your standard cage, they are about $3 each. I then put a bamboo cane in the center for added support. The string method looks to work really well to with the clips. I ordered from a few places as well, probably 10% of my seed cost was postage...

  23. Hi Daphne, my harvest this week was pretty sad veggie-wise: enough lettuce for a salad and two green onions. But we got EGGS this week, 14 of them. That's my first week's harvest of eggs from my three new hens. I'm thrilled.

  24. Michelle, for me keeping track is kind of like dieting and keeping track of your food. It makes you think one more time about what you spend.

    EG, Well hopefully you will have a nice income too from selling your tomato transplants. That ought to offset your costs pretty well.

    Sally, soil blockers make well blocks of soil. They are used instead of pots. For years I used the six packs. I just reused the ones I'd had before. I bought half my plants from the garden center and the few I did grew could easily use the recycled ones. But when the garden center I loved closed down, I needed pots and really hated the plastic blowing around the garden (I'm not always neat about picking up). Soil blocks got rid of the plastic for me which I loved and the plants seem to grow better in them so I'm happy.

    Emily, I'm starting to look forward to the seed starting process too. I can't wait.

    Annie's Granny, you have so much trouble with the internet where you are. You must be dying to get home to WA where your connection is good.

    Ali, that is an interesting way to do it. I'd probably use bamboo poles since that is what I have. Hmm I'll have to think about it.

    Stefaneener, yeah if you totally redo the yard with lots of hardscape it would take forever. I do love cages. They are so easy and I never keep up with pruning so they work for me.

    Dan, I always find the ones at the stores too small for the tomatoes. They are never tall enough. My old cages weren't either as they were only four feet tall.

    Lou, Eggs are good. Those make a nice harvest.

  25. I've had the Gardeners Supply cages for years. They seem pretty indestructible.

    For the taller tomatoes, I put one cage on top of another when the plants start to get over the top of one cage (bend the top cage's feet so they fit inside the bottom cage) and use plastic clothespins to clamp them together.

    I typically lash cages to their neighbors with twine,that gives them enough stability so they don't keel over under the weight of the tomatoes in my very windy area.

  26. I also grow some of my vining plants like cucumbers in tomato cages.

  27. I know how you feel about spending up front. But let's just try to remember how much we saved last year!

  28. Ugh, I am also very bad at ordering everyhting at once, I try to not think about all the S & H paid out. I love FEDCO, but it is annoying to place 3 seperate orders every year for seeds/supplies/plants/spuds.

  29. Hello New to your blog but,hope having someone to moan and groan to might be helpful.I work on a farm.Tuttle's Red Barn.We are the oldest farm in America still owned by the same family since 1632.However this has very little to do with my meager garden at home.Hope to glean some points from a home gardener,hope you don't mind.

  30. I've made tomato cages out of welded wire fencing. It doesn't get rusty like concrete reinforcing wire. You can buy it at most big-box hardware stores in the chicken wire section. A 50'x5' roll usually costs $40-45. One 50 foot roll will make 8 cylindrical tomato cages (I usually plant 2-3 plants per cage around the perimeter). They aren't easy to store, but they are very sturdy and relatively inexpensive.