Somebody asked in a Facebook group, as somebody always does this time of year, how much money people make on their gardens. There is a widespread romantic belief (I used to hold it) that with a raised bed and a little bit of work, you can feed your family for a summer.
Six years in, and I chuckle when I see those posts. Make money? My garden is something I have to budget for, and while I save money on therapy copays, the value in the garden is the gardening, the tending, the lessons for my kids about food.
This year, this morning, I think I might have graduated to the other side of that chuckle. It’s not that my garden is making me rich (except in quality of life), but as I staked my raspberry stalks, I reflected on how much of my garden takes no input at this point.
I just bought an expensive cherry tree and an expensive lemon tree (about $150 all told) and last year I bought an expensive apple tree. That means that in our yard/patio, we will have a pear tree, two apple trees, a cherry tree, a lemon tree, two mature blueberry bushes, a raspberry patch, a strawberry patch, grape vines, and several mulberry trees. These have varying levels of productivity, and one of the apple trees basically produces inedible apples, but I could stop everything and still gather hundreds of dollars of produce from these things each year. I’m trying to set up a self-cultivating garlic patch (which they say you shouldn’t, you should just plant every year, but what do they know), an asparagus patch, and an onion patch.
I’ve learned which annual vegetables are mass producers for me – I easily make $50 on the tomato plants – and which ones I care enough to grow even without a big payout (beets).
This isn’t to say that I’m raking it in (unless by “it” you mean “squash”). After a ton of work I get enough lettuce to make maybe ten big salads. I could only feed my family on this if my family were made up of mice (oh man would we eat well in that case). And I still spend hundreds of dollars each year, mostly for big items like new trees, but also soil, seeds, those decomposable seed pots that I hate, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I may have to reinforce rotting raised bed boards this year.
But looking over my still young (three years old) patch of the most delicious raspberries I’ve ever tasted, I realized that the garden has moved from an expensive hobby to a budget neutral hobby and even, maybe, to a hobby that eases the budget a bit each summer. Well, it eases the budget a lot if you count therapy copays.
How much money does my garden make me each year? Enough.