Real Men Sow

Fruit & Veg Maths and a New Project?

I’ve got confess, I’ve found the price of veg fascinating since I began roughly working out my savings from growing my own.

Admittedly, you’ve got to be a) tight and b) geeky, to want to do this. Luckily for my experiment, I’m both.

So you can imagine my delight when harvesting this week, I worked out the following maths equation:

823g of gooseberries + 2 courgettes + 1 red onion + 1 white onion = the cost of the multipurpose compost I bought at the weekend.

The purist will look at this and say ‘…but I don’t do it to save money’, and I agree. I love allotmenteering, and I’d do it regardless of cost. However, it’s a great feeling, not to mention a lot of fun, to look at a harvest and equate it to something else.

Strawberries Pay for a Spade
For a further example, its rather satisfying to know that actually it didn’t matter too much that I snapped my spade in half in front of a gaggle of the old boys, as my strawberry harvest during June paid for a new Fancy Dan Wilkinsons Sword replacement. A ten year guarantee should help against pesky globe artichoke root removal mishaps.

Reinvesting the Savings
It was also very exciting to pretend I was a smallholder too, reinvesting in the land. My leek and carrot harvests during the winter of 2011 equated to the cost of two new blueberry bushes, and left me enough change for a packet of seeds to replenish the carrot stock.

Watching my sage plant start paying for itself is also interesting. I bought it for £1.50 at the local farmers’ market, and after two pickings, the plant is about a tenth of the way there. I’ll be getting payback in a dozen or so harvests time.

Treating Myself to a New Fishing Rod. Or Not.
And then there’s domestic negotiations. That smart new fishing rod I’ve been eyeing up? Well, surely it should be able to come out of the joint account, given that I’ve delivered £47 of squash and rhubarb to the table this year?

This one’s not quite washed with Ailsa yet. Perhaps I am pushing it a tad, but I hope you get my point. The three seasons prior to this one have been brilliant – I’ve enjoyed relaxation, achievement, time with my mum and of course, tasty food. However, keeping a check on costs had added a whole new dimension.

A New Project?
I won’t do it for always, but I’m excited about my findings, and already eyeing up my little garden for a project designing a small space based entirely on growing the real bang-for-buck fruit and vegetables, while maintaining a pleasant, useable area.

At the moment this vision is pie in the sky, and I even had crazy thoughts of giving the allotment up completely to concentrate on the garden. I love the idea of just being able to wander out the back door and potter for a productive half an hour.

I had a great discussion with some fellow Twitter users last night, culminating in Helen from the Patient Gardener, suggesting I use the plot for the big crops like potatoes and squashes and the garden for other stuff.

I particularly like this idea. I could add storing veg, like onions, to the plot, as well as big tomato plants from which I’d make passata for freezing.

Exciting times, and plenty of food for thought. I think if I did give up the plot I’d live to regret it, but an edible garden sounds like a great challenge, and preparing it would certainly keep me busy over the winter.

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One Comment

  1. louisa @ TheReallyGoodLifeJuly 13, 2011 at 1:06 pmReply

    I missed the Twitter conversation last night but agree with Helen – keep the plot for low maintenance big things.

    I’ve only got a garden, and one without much bed space, and so I’m really limited with the amount of potatoes, onions etc that I can grow. Not the end of the world as they’re not expensive but still.

    If I had a plot, I’d still grow a lot of stuff in my garden – stuff that needs regularly picking/tending like salad or soft fruit – but anything that was a bit tougher, bigger, or with a long growing period would be in my plot.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.

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