Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall '11 Garden

October is the start of my annual garden, at least in my mind.  Things start growing pretty well here in Arizona starting end of September and beginning of October.  This growing will go all the way through the beginning of July or so when things get out of control hot.  So to start this gardening year off well I applied much of what I learned in the previous year of gardening.  These lessons included, 1. plant early, 2. use saved seeds or trade seeds with someone for free, 3. plant productive plants according to the size of garden, 4. save money by fertilizing with compost, and 5. save time with low or minimal till.  By applying all of these I reduced the amount of money spent on my garden by over $50 from last year and saved a few hours of work.  This year I planted turnips, multiplier bulb onions, chard, kale, green leaf lettuce, beets, snow peas, garlic, rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, radishes, and cilantro.  I also have eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers that survived from last years garden and the eggplant is really starting to produce now.  Unfortunately, I have to figure out a way to keep my chickens from eating the eggplant before I pick them.  This year I am avoiding broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage being they take up lots of space and take a long time to produce.  Here is what has been done so far:

College garden
Eggplant 2 lbs 3 oz $6.30 ($2.99/lbs)
Total produce: $6.30
Total cost: $6.48
Net: -$0.18
Calories produced: 245
Time: 5 hours
Calories expended: 1530
Net calories: -1285

Home garden
Eggplant 4 lbs 6 oz $13.08 ($2.99/lbs.)
Basil 4 oz $3.98 ($1.99/2 oz)
Total produce: $17.06
Total cost: $10.50
Net: $7.10
Calories produced: 518
Time: 6 hours
Calories expended: 1836
Net calories: -1318

So far this is a very good start for the new gardening year.  We are already at the break-even point or even slightly profitable dollar wise.  Calorie wise we are in the hole as expected and it will likely take months to dig ourselves out.  Weather wise things are slightly warmer than usual meaning the plants will develop faster, helping our production.  It is still extremely dry which means added watering and monitoring plants for stress.  Unfortunately, it appears that we are in for a La Nina winter which means drier than usual.  And drier than usual in the desert is extremely dry.  So overall, we are off to a great start.

In the near future I have plans for covering plant and planting information on some cool season garden crops.  I have hopes of covering different aspects of growing these plants as well as some of their interesting historical backgrounds.  Gardening isn't just for the fields of science and agriculture, its also fascinating for historians and sociologists.

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