Even though I pretty much consider myself an ex-physicist, that doesn’t mean that I’m no longer a nerd! I just spent a few days writing a data-filled post about my garden last summer. It made me so happy to make those simple little plots!
Yes, I know it’s 2014, and winter is in full swing. I realized I never did a wrap-up of my 2013 garden, so with garden planning on the close horizon for this summer, I thought it would be a good time! (P.S. you can see all posts about my 2013 garden by clicking HERE)
Above, you can see the diagram of our garden. We stuck to the plan and I kept a spreadsheet of the produce we collected out of the garden.
First, let me show you some overall results for our garden. I created some simple charts based on my tally of the produce harvested last summer, and I’ll address each type of produce individually.
Overall, we got fewer tomatoes than I expected this year. They also started producing much, much later than I hoped or expected, especially since we live in a warmer climate than in previous years. I liked the flavor of all of my varieties pretty well. Fourth of July is fairly basic, but I plant it because of the promise of early and continuous fruiting. Well, it was continuous, but certainly not early! My first Fourth of July tomato was harvested on July 27, and the second on August 5! Best Boy tomatoes tasted pretty good, but I had problems with them getting eaten by something (caterpillars? deer? tallish gnomes with very sharp, small teeth?) just before they were ripe enough for picking. It was pretty discouraging. As always, the Jelly Bean tomatoes are my favorites (so sweet!!), but it seemed like our overall harvest was smaller than last year (when we were in upstate NY).
I was extremely delighted with the Burpee cucumber harvest I had in 2013! Throughout the summer, I collected sixty (yes, 60!) cucumbers from the three vines on that trellis. And I was selfish– I didn’t share even one 😉 Cucumbers are probably my favorite thing to come out of the garden, and I delighted in eating them on salads, in sandwiches, and as creamy cucumber salad. The Ferry-Morse cucumbers? Not so much. I harvested 15 from the three vines on their trellis, and really, I didn’t like their flavor or texture. I did learn one thing though: all the previous years that I thought I had such abysmal luck with cucumbers may have been due to this particular variety. The FM vines were never as healthy-looking as the Burpees, which were right next to them; the FM vines died quickly, and I finally ended up just cutting them off the trellis at the beginning of September. The Burpee vines continued fruiting all the way through September! I will most definitely be planting the Burpee variety again. Yum!
Well, we had a better year this year than last time– but that’s not saying much, since I had quite the war with our resident groundhog back in upstate New York. I really was hoping for a bumper crop (zucchini bread is sooooo yummy, and I love those zucchini fritters). But I was pretty disappointed. Despite the promises on the seed packet that we would “feed the neighborhood!” we got a grand total of 9 zucchini from two plants. Granted, one of those nine was over 5 lbs, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the relative dearth of zucchini. I’m really not sure what is going wrong. Is something managing to get inside our fence and eat them?? I do have a suspicion that there were some deer raiding the outer perimeter of the garden, based on suspiciously “pruned” branches of the tomato plants– and every once in a while the zucchinis would look a little skimpy.
To be complete, I must include my little herb garden box. This was an astonishing failure. I think the main problem was that I thought it was getting watered when it rained, but in truth, part of the box was shielded by an overhang off of our house. I probably should have watered it more, anyway, since it is a container and therefore by definition can’t hold moisture as well. I also think the box was a bit too shallow, but it’s what I’ve got. I’ll try again this year and see if I can do better.
I was interested to see if we saved any money by having our own garden… though that isn’t the main point of having a garden (it can be a bonus, though, for sure). I just love growing things, and I love the taste of fresh garden produce!
So first, because I’m so nice and Type-A, I keep a spreadsheet of my “personal spending,” that is, spending that we have categorized as my hobbies. This is not only to keep myself accountable to staying within our agreed-upon hobby budget, but also so that I can track how much I’ve spent on a particular project or project categories. Using this spreadsheet, I calculated that we spent about $145.50 on supplies for our garden this year. That is hopefully more than we will spend in future years, since we were buying some pieces that will be used for future gardens (the plastic/metal stakes, the trellises, the fencing, and supplies for the rain barrel).
Next, I totaled the counts or weights of each of the varieties I harvested. In the chart below, I show how I calculated an estimated value for the produce we collected in our 2013 garden. Unfortunately, I forgot to take note of the summer prices for the produce! I had to make some educated guesses for the tomatoes and zucchini–see notes below. I tried to be fair, but err on the low side. However, cucumbers have been a steady $0.68 each throughout the year at the store where I normally buy groceries.
In all, I estimated that we produced about $101.15 of tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in the summer of 2013! Not bad at all! That means we recovered all but (145.50-101.15)= $44.35 of what we spent in supplies for the garden. Pretty cool.
* prices based on local Sam’s Club prices, 1/21/2014. I think this is fair, since my tomatoes are of a high quality. A friend reported to me that at a local organic market, all tomatoes were generally 4.99/lb (organic), sometimes 3.99 on sale. Organic zucchini was 2.99/lb. NOTE that my garden is not intentionally organic, though I didn’t add any commercial fertilizers, organic or otherwise, at all this year.
** After I started recording just the count of zucchini harvested, I realized that it is most often sold by weight. Therefore, I estimated that each zucchini was about 0.5 lbs (except for the enormous one, which I had actually weighed).
A new blog post with our garden plan for 2014!
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