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Terri
06-23-2011, 10:27 PM
I was buying seeds for another planting of corn and beans when I got to thinking: is this why so many people say that gardening is not profitable?

Consider this: I buy inexpensive seeds locally, and of proven varieties. I usually get good germination, and I spend less on good-quality seeds. I stagger my plantings, and every several days I get something into the ground. I must have planted corn 4 times, and I will plant more! I will get fresh corn- probably 12 dozen ears- over a long period of time. The family will eat most fresh, though if we fall behind in the eating then I will freeze some.

Cost is $4, mostly for the seeds. I scatter a little fertilizer left over from last year but mostly I fertilize with chicken poop, thinly scattered. Return is about 12 dozen ears, or $48. It was a wet year so I do not think that I watered the corn at all. Bug control will be a little baby oil in the silks, applied twice.

..............

ANOTHER person might buy the best seeds by mail order, with shipping and handling added in it can cost $5 a pack or about $15 total. If the seeds are planted mostly at once then he will get more than his family can eat fresh, and so he buys a pressure canner for $100 and jars at $12 a case and he starts canning. He sprays the corn silks with BT ($10?) to keep the green worms out, buys a tiller for $600, and after his family has eaten their fill of sweet corn he cans up the excess and gets perhaps 20 pints canned.

And, instead of depreciating the cost of the canner and the tiller over 10 years time, he sees that his outlay was $749 and he got 20 pints of sweet corn as a return. For that matter, even if he did depreciate he sees that his expenses were $73 for a few meals of corn and 20 pints for the winter.

"Gardening is very expensive", he concludes! But, it doesn't have to be. The time to buy equipment is when hand tools will not serve, and the time to buy canning equipment is when you have enough food to preserve to justify it. If the second gardener had had 200 jars worth of produce to put up instead of 20, he would have saved money on the deal.


I have heard often enough that the main point of raising your own is to know what went into it: this is a very valid statement! But, raising your own can be profitable as well!

Junie
06-24-2011, 01:20 AM
Good post!

You can save even more by buying open-pollinated seeds, then saving your own.

potterhenry
06-24-2011, 04:17 AM
my take on this is....I raise what I can eat and my family that lives close by....and here lately...I have been feeding the grasshoppers...hehe...not so much to make money...but for better healthy food...

Nancymw
06-29-2011, 12:52 PM
I agree with Junie - use the open pollinated seeds-save each year. Also, I am willing to pay a bit more to have healthy vibrant delicious nutritious food that I know where it comes from!

DavidOH
06-29-2011, 03:08 PM
The one thing you left out: LABOR.
IF you consider the time involved how much could you have earned working somewhere instead of working in the garden? The income vrs the cost savings on food.

That's an economic factor only, and has nothing to do with quality, freshness, or anything else.

kfander
06-29-2011, 04:00 PM
i think it has to do with lifestyle and preparedness. Right now, I have no doubt that I can earn more money working from behind my computer than I could save by growing my own food.

However, food that I grow myself is no doubt going to be healthier than anything I can buy in the store. But even putting that aside, there is something indescribably satisfying about living a lifestyle that includes growing ones own food.

Then there is the uncertainty about the future. How much longer am I likely to be able to earn a good living from behind my computer? How long will I be able to depend on this?

God's Country
06-29-2011, 04:13 PM
It's easy for gardens to get out of control. These days I only grow what I need/crave.

JarDude
06-29-2011, 04:51 PM
The one thing you left out: LABOR.
IF you consider the time involved how much could you have earned working somewhere instead of working in the garden? The income vrs the cost savings on food.

I doubt this is the case for most. Some peoples time is worthless and the food grown is priceless.

Factor in what can be made else where. Then deduct the taxes, gas money, vehicle expenses, wardrobe, etc. It costs a lot to go to work as well.

MollyPitcher
06-30-2011, 05:25 AM
I don't consider how much I could earn working away from home. No doubt I could earn more (if paid as per my skill set) than what the retail value of the food I grow would amount to, even after taxes, gas for travel to and from, the occasional bought lunch and etc were deducted. I have a small business and that is what consumes most of my time.

Of course the freshness, quality, quantity, and cleanliness of what I grow is far superior to what I could buy at the grocery store, except for melons, which I have never had luck growing. Those are the main factors for me; how much can I grow, process and store; does it taste better than what I can buy; and is it free of pathogens like e.coli and pesticides.

That it costs very little in terms of cash outlay is of very little issue to me. I save some of my seeds, and I buy the rest. I have gotten good at finding what I like on sale after the spring rush. This year, as in years past, Home Depot, Lowe's, TSC, and a couple other places put their seeds on clearance. I buy seeds I know will store for long periods of time such as tomatos, peppers, beans, squash, corn. I also cruise the online sites for sale prices to offset shipping costs. So my seed costs are less than what someone would spend simply buying off the rack or from a catalog during the peak seed buying time.

Mostly though I have come to think of gardening as any other chore. I must do laundry, I must wash the dishes, clean the floors, cut the grass, feed the poultry, and I must garden. It's not something I think of in terms of working away from home -vs- growing my own food. It's just a chore I do in order to maintain my life. A necessity, I guess you'd say, but one I do enjoy very much.

oeb
06-30-2011, 09:16 AM
[Corn]bug control will be a little baby oil in the silks, applied twice....

I learn something new on this forum every day!
Will you kindly teach me more about this baby oil treatment; when, how, how much, etc.
Thanks, oeb

Junie
06-30-2011, 11:36 AM
I'm not Terri, but I can tell you how to do it, since I do the same thing, except I use mineral oil instead of baby oil.

Once the ears have silk, put a few drops of oil on the silk and let it run down into the ear. You could use a dropper, which would be neater and more efficient, but I don't have one so I just pour a little in the lid and use that. I usually do this twice, about 2 weeks apart. I almost never find a corn ear worm since I started doing it.

wildturnip
06-30-2011, 11:59 AM
Junie, does the mineral oil give the corn a bad taste? Could you use a vegetable oil and get the same result? I've thought about trying this too.

oeb
06-30-2011, 03:33 PM
This is just great to learn about. Thank you very much! I can't wait to give this a try.

oeb

Junie
06-30-2011, 06:08 PM
Wildturnip, the mineral oil doesn't leave any taste at all. It's safe to eat (it's a laxative, but not in that small amount) and is the recommended oil to season cutting boards. I'm sure most of it is off the corn before you eat it anyway, assuming you wash it and boil it.

I suppose you could use vegetable oil, but that gets sticky when it's in the air for any length of time, it can turn rancid, and it might attract insects.

krapgame
07-06-2011, 05:24 AM
IMO, factoring the cost of a pressure canner and canning jars is akin to factoring in the cost of the kitchen that the food is processed in. These items should be standard equipment in every house. Properly cared for, a canner and jars will easily outlast the owner and still fetch a price at the estate sale.

Jardude is dead on; giving up TV time is no labor expense. Labor in gardening really only becomes an issue if someone is turning away an opportunity to actually earn money in favor of tending their garden duties. I don't recall ever meeting anyone who has done that, though I'm sure there are some of us on here who have.

Can I generally eat cheaper from the grocery store? Probably. Can I eat the same menu or quality of foods cheaper from the grocery store? Not a chance. No stems and strings in our green beans, unlike the store bought cans. And I shudder to think what all the strawberries we have eaten this year would cost if we had to buy them. :eek:

Re: ear worms, we always have our share. We prefer our corn tender and usually they haven't done too much damage at that stage and they're easy enough to cut around. I'm considering the mineral/baby oil trick this year; I appreciate the info on it!

To really make gardening profitable, consider buying seeds in bulks (usually not that much more expensive than the small packets) and sell your excess produce. Farmers markets, local newspapers, Craigslist, word of mouth, whatever. Our net cost for our garden has been a negative number for several years now. In moderation, the labor involved isn't really that much more than just growing for yourself.

Good thread! Thanks for posting it.

AlchemyAcres
07-06-2011, 06:15 AM
Profitability, Schmofitabilty!!!!

Costs, schmosts!!!!!

There's more to it than just economics...as I see it anyway....

I'm growing some stuff that can't be purchased at any market....anywhere....at any price!!!

That's beyond priceless!!! :D

If there are some who can't see the value in that...well...they can just continue to earn money at a job they HATE so they can buy crap at Aldi!!!! LMAO!!!

To each his own, it's no skin off my butt!

~Martin ;)

JarDude
07-07-2011, 03:51 AM
IMO, factoring the cost of a pressure canner and canning jars is akin to factoring in the cost of the kitchen that the food is processed in. These items should be standard equipment in every house.

:yes4:

I have tried to explain this to people and they looked at me like I had horns growing out of my forehead.

backlash
07-07-2011, 01:44 PM
It's easy for gardens to get out of control. These days I only grow what I need/crave.
I agree.
I have decided that the work involved is not worth the yield.
I work 8 hours a day and when I get home the last thing I want to do is pull weeds in the hot afternoon sun for 2 hours.
I was pulling weeds one afternoon and ask my wife what onions cost at the fruit stand.
Candy Sweets are $8 for 25 pounds.
Why am I growing onions?
We bought 75 pounds at the end of the season last year and we ate the last on in May of this year.
12 dozen ears of corn would cost me $36 and I can get it fresh all summer long.
This Fall I am going to till the garden and plant grass.
Then I will replace the fence and let the cows have it.
I live is an area that has good fruit and vegetable stands and I can buy produce cheap.
We'll have 2 tomato plants and that's about it.
Maybe after I retire I will think about a small garden again, maybe.

JarDude
07-08-2011, 03:06 AM
I agree.
I have decided that the work involved is not worth the yield.
I work 8 hours a day and when I get home the last thing I want to do is pull weeds in the hot afternoon sun for 2 hours.
I was pulling weeds one afternoon and ask my wife what onions cost at the fruit stand.
Candy Sweets are $8 for 25 pounds.
Why am I growing onions?
We bought 75 pounds at the end of the season last year and we ate the last on in May of this year.
12 dozen ears of corn would cost me $36 and I can get it fresh all summer long.
This Fall I am going to till the garden and plant grass.
Then I will replace the fence and let the cows have it.
I live is an area that has good fruit and vegetable stands and I can buy produce cheap.
We'll have 2 tomato plants and that's about it.
Maybe after I retire I will think about a small garden again, maybe.

2 hours? What do you have a 4 acre garden?

A couple hours a week should plant and keep a dang good sized garden.

AlchemyAcres
07-08-2011, 03:48 AM
2 hours? What do you have a 4 acre garden?

A couple hours a week should plant and keep a dang good sized garden.


Yeah...far less time than the hours put it at a job to buy questionable stuff.

I love to grow far more than I need....I love the abundance at harvest time...I give the excess to people I know will appreciate it and use it!!! I have 49 zucchini plants this year! LOL

I hate weeds....I refuse the allow weeds a foothold...Luckily, I have a brain (albeit small), weeds don't, so I'm the boss!......I never cultivate....I hate cultivation.....I hate hoes!!! LOL
I mulch with 4 layers of newspaper (or cardboard)and grass clipping....I've pulled maybe 10 weeds so far this year.


~Martin

BonnyLake
07-08-2011, 11:05 PM
Yeah...far less time than the hours put it at a job to buy questionable stuff.

I love to grow far more than I need....I love the abundance at harvest time...I give the excess to people I know will appreciate it and use it!!! I have 49 zucchini plants this year! LOL

I hate weeds....I refuse the allow weeds a foothold...Luckily, I have a brain (albeit small), weeds don't, so I'm the boss!......I never cultivate....I hate cultivation.....I hate hoes!!! LOL
I mulch with 4 layers of newspaper (or cardboard)and grass clipping....I've pulled maybe 10 weeds so far this year.

~Martin

I don't even own a hoe, but I do have a rake like the FLOTUS in another thread :wink:
I don't allow weeds either - they wouldn't dare grow through all my yard clippings that I dump on my gardens twice a week - but I do hate grass, and those week-enders that clip their lawns with a torpedo level and tweezers :eek:

49 zuke plants??? URNutz - I have lots of recipes if ya need a few new ones!
.

krapgame
07-09-2011, 02:09 AM
:yes4:

I have tried to explain this to people and they looked at me like I had horns growing out of my forehead.

I know that look all too well. Seen it many times. :( Oh well, I just smile and wave when I see them driving past on their way to the grocery store. Or better, when we see them in the store pushing 2 carts with the weeks groceries and we've got half a cart for the month.