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Of the motivations to have a small home veggie garden--

1. Its fun (assuming you like doing it)

2. Fresh picked veggies taste better. Dunno if that point would even be debatable.

3. If you have beliefs that certain seeds, techiques or chemicals are unhealthy, then you have complete control over those factors.

But one issue of curiosity-- I haven't a clue and therefore soliciting opinions-- Would the total cost of running a small garden ever save money compared to getting all your frood from the grocery, veggie stands, farmers market? Am guessing a real big garden might more easily pay for itself but dunno. Maybe a tiny one can pay for itself too? Merely curious what ya'll think. Maybe in worst case it wouldn't be as odd as buying a big fancy bass boat so you can eat free fish. :)

We have the canning thread but because canning is related to the gardening-- Can you ever "save money" canning foods, if you have to buy the energy? Compared to buying a can of the same veggie at the grocery? Admittedly the home made might taste lots better and be worth more money to a person, but would a fella have any odds of saving money? Dunno, and thats why I'm asking. How many mason jars can you put up for the money spent on a 10 gal propane tank ferinstance? How much energy cost per mason jar?

If a fella owned big enough woods that he could cut firewood without eventually cutting down all his woods, then the energy would be cheaper, but not free considering the chainsaw and fuel and other stuff for harvesting the firewood without having to be Paul Bunyan.

Am also curious if any canners have been designed energy efficient? Running a pressure canner there is certain energy spent raising the temp initially, and then the energy that is leaked off as steam. Which might be minimized by close automatic temperature control? But ferinstance maybe a canner insulated like a real efficient water heater, could cost drastically less in energy compared to an ordinary sealed pot on a stove?

In all the above, just wondering about real money outlays. Not adding the cost of one's own labor.

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I only picked enough for 4 pints...but these are my first canned of this season!  Spicy little devils... they're cooling off now. Gonna be good in about 4 weeks.  

I had to work this past weekend so just catching up. It looks like everyone is staying busy and doing quite well! 👍 Interesting concept Jon! Thank you for the vid. I might give this a shot.  Much

We picked our sweet corn last night, before the coons ate all of it. We're putting it up now. BUNCH of friggin' corn! I've killed 4 coons, one possum, and lost count of the crows, but haven't put

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The tomatoes, chilis, and asparagus in my garden all look great, but not the cucumbers - they're kinda limp and yellow. Any ideas? I've been trying to keep them watered, and they're growing ok and don't taste bad, but they are just not right.

What kind of cucumbers did you get? You generally won't find seeds/seedlings for the big, dark green cucumbers like you see in the grocery store. The seeds/seedlings are generally smaller and much lighter green. They will turn yellow if left on the vine too long, it's too hot, or not enough water.

Of the motivations to have a small home veggie garden--

1. Its fun (assuming you like doing it)

2. Fresh picked veggies taste better. Dunno if that point would even be debatable.

3. If you have beliefs that certain seeds, techiques or chemicals are unhealthy, then you have complete control over those factors.

But one issue of curiosity-- I haven't a clue and therefore soliciting opinions-- Would the total cost of running a small garden ever save money compared to getting all your frood from the grocery, veggie stands, farmers market? Am guessing a real big garden might more easily pay for itself but dunno. Maybe a tiny one can pay for itself too? Merely curious what ya'll think. Maybe in worst case it wouldn't be as odd as buying a big fancy bass boat so you can eat free fish. :)

A small garden can easily pay for itself. I typically spent about $30 on plants for my small home garden (maters, cucumbers, okra, etc). If you're willing to grow from seed, you can spend half that. If you're good at harvesting and preparing seeds from previous years, it can cost nearly nothing.

I then spend about $10 on compost and another $10 on fertilizer. So that's up to $50. I generally water the garden from my rain barrel unless it gets really dry (like now). Tap water is cheap... pennies per gallon. Just swagging numbers.... $0.02/gal, 20 gal/wk, 16 week growing period = $6.40 for water. That's way more tap water than I use.

So I'm up to about $60 total annual cost, assuming my labor is free. Produce at the grocery store runs roughly $2/lb. So if I get 30 lbs of produce from my garden, I broke even. I've never kept track, but my guess is I get way more than 30 lbs yield. I'd guess I get about a bushel of yield per veggie. A bushel of cucumber or tomatoes weighs about 50 lbs, 25 lbs for okra, peas, or beans.

Again all those numbers are guesses, but yes, I think I'm saving money.

We have the canning thread but because canning is related to the gardening-- Can you ever "save money" canning foods, if you have to buy the energy? Compared to buying a can of the same veggie at the grocery? Admittedly the home made might taste lots better and be worth more money to a person, but would a fella have any odds of saving money? Dunno, and thats why I'm asking. How many mason jars can you put up for the money spent on a 10 gal propane tank ferinstance? How much energy cost per mason jar?

Easy enough to figure up...

Stove element ~ 1500W. It wouldn't need to stay on high the whole time, but say you run it for an hour. Power costs $0.086/kwh. So that element costs $0.13/hr to run on high. A 20lb propane bottle costs $20 and google tells me propane has about 20k BTU/lb and a turkey fryer burner is about 50k BTU/hr.... 2.5lb/hr on high... 8 hrs per bottle... $0.40/hr to use.

The water costs $0.02/gal and you'll use a couple gallons. A dozen quart mason jars costs $16, so $1.33 each and they can be re-used many, many times... One could factor in depreciation the pressure cooker and stove, but I think that would be minimal per jar given the potential quantities.

So... as with most of these things, yes it's cheaper as long as your labor is free. Want to pay yourself $15/hr? The cost goes way, way up.

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Thanks peejman for taking the time to quantify some of the expenses. Had got to wondering if a small garden might nickle and dime a feller to death.

Am not quite following the per-hour calculation on the propane-- $20 / 8 hours would be $2.50 per hour?

It is interesting that electricity might be less expensive than propane for boiling water. I don't use propane except tiny tanks for some of the wife's old camping accessories. Anyway somehow expected that gas might turn out less expensive than resistive electric heat for boiling water. I can certainly heat my HOUSE cheaper on gas than resistive electric heat. Am not arguing that electricity can't boil water cheaper than propane. It is just interesting to consider.

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Thanks peejman for taking the time to quantify some of the expenses. Had got to wondering if a small garden might nickle and dime a feller to death.

Am not quite following the per-hour calculation on the propane-- $20 / 8 hours would be $2.50 per hour?

It is interesting that electricity might be less expensive than propane for boiling water. I don't use propane except tiny tanks for some of the wife's old camping accessories. Anyway somehow expected that gas might turn out less expensive than resistive electric heat for boiling water. I can certainly heat my HOUSE cheaper on gas than resistive electric heat. Am not arguing that electricity can't boil water cheaper than propane. It is just interesting to consider.

Assuming you use propane at home and not natural gas, I would guess it's cheaper to buy in bulk. So buying 200 lbs at one time is likely cheaper than buying ten 20lb. bottles. (We're all electric here so no idea whether you buy 200 lbs or 20, 000 lbs to heat a house but point holds I think).

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Thanks peejman for taking the time to quantify some of the expenses. Had got to wondering if a small garden might nickle and dime a feller to death.

I'm quite sure it could nickel and dime you to death if you're really anal about stuff, need all the latest gadgets, etc. I dump some compost and fertilizer, turn it, plant it, water it, and see what happens. I pull weeds occasionally. I spray for bugs if they get really bad. I don't kill myself messing with it.

Am not quite following the per-hour calculation on the propane-- $20 / 8 hours would be $2.50 per hour?

You are correct. I've no idea how I came up with $0.40. :shrug:

It is interesting that electricity might be less expensive than propane for boiling water. I don't use propane except tiny tanks for some of the wife's old camping accessories. Anyway somehow expected that gas might turn out less expensive than resistive electric heat for boiling water. I can certainly heat my HOUSE cheaper on gas than resistive electric heat. Am not arguing that electricity can't boil water cheaper than propane. It is just interesting to consider.

It has to do with efficiency of heat transfer and cost of the energy.

A gas burner on an open stove is very inefficient. The air space necessary for the burner to burn allows lots of the heat output to escape to the atmosphere rather than being transferred directly to the pot. An electric eye where the pot is fully covers the element is far more efficient. That's how the nifty new induction elements boil water so fast. The catch is that the gas burner's total output is 10x higher than the electric eye, so the reduced efficiency is more than compensated for by the much higher output. 1500W = 5120 BTU/hr compared to the 50,000 BTU/hr gas burner.

Electricity costs $0.086/kWh. Using the grill bottle example (and doing some conversions...) yields $1.4/kWh for propane. Bulk propane would be much less expensive, but you can see the difference.

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I've never tried to figure out how much if anything I'm saving compared to the grocery store, but, I compare quality and taste.

I love fresh ripe big juicy red tomato's, but I can't stand the hard crunchy tasteless hot house tomato's from the major stores.

I know where my vegetables came from and they don't weep in Spanish.

I know what pesticides if any were used.

And maybe most importantly, if you've ever witnessed migratory farm workers working in the field harvesting produce, there are no restroom / hand washing facilities anywhere. I personally believe this is the cause of most the contaminated produce killing and sickening people. Not Ferrel hogs as speculated where there's no Ferrel hog populations.

JMHO.

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Thanks Dennis and Peejman

I've been going for stuff like LED lights and LED monitors because it saves money two ways-- In the summer not only do you save power on the gadget, but you save air conditioning expense, power expended by the AC in "undoing" the extra heating inside the house by higher-wattage items.

So the idea (which others mentioned) of running a canner outside makes sense for summer operation, on the same theory. The AC would have to suck out all that waste energy from running the canner inside.

Interesting that it looks cheaper to boil water electrically. Sounds like if somebody did much canning, they might save money in the long run to buy an induction hot plate to run a canner outside, rather than a propane stove? Did a brief search and it looks like induction hot plates have got pretty cheap. Noted that some of them have a "lip" around the induction area, limiting the size of pot that would work "as efficient as possible". So I guess one would shop for an induction hot plate big enough to PHYSICALLY interface with the diameter of the canner?

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Excellent discussion folks. :up:

I think Dennis made a great point. When growing your own food, you actually know what went into and/or on it.

Another point to consider regarding cost:

Have you recently priced fresh "organic" foods in the grocery stores?

And also please consider what "fresh" means there..."fresh" could well mean a few weeks old by the time you purchase it.

As Dennis said, the quality, taste, and nutrition of home grown vegetables is simply hard to beat.

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I've really enjoyed reading about your alls gardens! And I think I've learned a lot. We always had a garden when I was growing up, but I've never had a garden since. We did plant a few tomato plants last year that had a nice yield and which we ate all of them, but that's about it. I'm going to have to look at doing the sq. ft. thing, since that's all the room I have.

On rabbits, why not purchase an air rifle and make stew out of them? Air rifles powerful enough to take out rabbits can be had at Wallyworld for under $120. Meat on the table at an inexpensive price... pellets cost about $5 for 250 and you get another rifle to play with that should be suburban friendly!

Lastly, have you all checked out the Mother Earth News and the Backwoodsmen. Both magazines have elements of self sufficiency and prepping, though Mother Earth News is less evident in the prepping aspect. Just a couple of thoughts.

Oh, and I love the Lazy Man's Tiller! Brought a chuckle as I was setting here drinking my morning coffee! :D

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Lastly, have you all checked out the Mother Earth News and the Backwoodsmen. Both magazines have elements of self sufficiency and prepping, though Mother Earth News is less evident in the prepping aspect. Just a couple of thoughts.

MEN & Backwoodsmen mags have some great info.

But my favorite though is Back Woods Home.hand's down. :up:

Their website has a fair amount of their articles in it's archives. And I have several books they publish and find them excellent resources.

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I've considered an air rifle to dispatch the rabbits. It would be mostly up to to wife to do the dirty work. While they are eating her garden and she has lots of experience cutting up critters to feed other critters, I suspect she'd be less than thrilled with idea of eating them herself. Besides, if my dog was worth a darn, she'd be keeping the rabbits away.

Mother Earth News has a rather prolific e-newsletter. Backwoods Home has a monthly e-newsletter. Both are free.

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I've considered an air rifle to dispatch the rabbits. It would be mostly up to to wife to do the dirty work. While they are eating her garden...

Mother Earth News has a rather prolific e-newsletter. Backwoods Home has a monthly e-newsletter. Both are free.

Thanks Peejman! I'm going to sign up for both!!! You know, rabbits are fairly tasty!

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A couple of weeks ago wife was reading that obsolete ancient form of text transmission called "the newspaper sunday supplement" and got excited about an article re "Straw Bale Gardening". Kinda the same idea as box gardening but possibly even less labor intensive.

 

http://strawbalegardens.com/

 

http://www.simplegiftsfarm.com/straw-bale-gardening.html

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=zpOSa3MlgSY

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Only read the first 3  posts .. so not sure if someone brought it up  or not.. if you did.. forgive me:)

 

For the tomato dilemma.. have you thought about a topsy turvy?  seriously.. I had one years ago and i ended up throwing tomatos away because we had so many...

 

I am trying to get me a little gardenplot  going myself.. but we have so many rabbits and crapp around here.. I am sure it all we be eaten  up by them.

 

Please post pictures also....

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A couple of weeks ago wife was reading that obsolete ancient form of text transmission called "the newspaper sunday supplement" and got excited about an article re "Straw Bale Gardening". Kinda the same idea as box gardening but possibly even less labor intensive.

 

http://strawbalegardens.com/

 

http://www.simplegiftsfarm.com/straw-bale-gardening.html

 

Interesting.  What do you do with the rotten straw at the end of the season?  I don't have a good way of disposing of that much volume.  I'd say just till it under, but then I'd have a "normal" garden plot for the next year which would defeat the purpose...

 

 

 

 

Only read the first 3  posts .. so not sure if someone brought it up  or not.. if you did.. forgive me:)

 

For the tomato dilemma.. have you thought about a topsy turvy?  seriously.. I had one years ago and i ended up throwing tomatos away because we had so many...

 

I am trying to get me a little gardenplot  going myself.. but we have so many rabbits and crapp around here.. I am sure it all we be eaten  up by them.

 

Please post pictures also....

 

 

I've heard mixed results with doing tomatoes in containers.  Basically, if you're on-the-ball enough to water them every day without fail, they'll do fine.  I highly doubt my ability to pull that off.

 

I didn't have problems with tomato blight last year.  The tomatoes were in a different spot (not up against the house) and I planted different varieties (cherry, roma, better boy).  The roma's in particular tasted excellent and we had piles and piles of them. 

 

I put chicken wire up around my small plot up against the house to keep the rabbits out (or whatever was eating everything) and that's worked well.  Though a friend who lives nearby also has lots of rabbits around and they don't bother his garden.  So maybe it wasn't rabbits?  All I know is the chicken wire worked. 

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Interesting.  What do you do with the rotten straw at the end of the season?  I don't have a good way of disposing of that much volume.  I'd say just till it under, but then I'd have a "normal" garden plot for the next year which would defeat the purpose...

 

I haven't studied it a lot, just read a few articles. One article said with care you might get two seasons out of a straw bale.

 

The dirt in my back yard is so rocky and infertile (lucky to get weeds to grow), I could probably find a good use for several garden seasons just spreading in the back yard and wife's front yard flower beds.

 

If growing veggies from seed, they say put a couple of inches of potting soil or mulch on top of a fresh bale, so the seeds have something to sprout in. I didn't see this mentioned in the articles I skimmed, but it occurred to me that if the straw mulches out as good as they say, after the first year one could put last-year's straw mulch on top of fresh bales, and not have to buy potting soil or dig up topsoil.

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Organic garden tillers. [URL=http://s246.photobucket.com/user/mjollnir17/media/spring2013064_zps391946fb.jpg.html]spring2013064_zps391946fb.jpg[/URL]

 

 

First pic of this years garden(couple weeks old). Kale, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers(sweet,hot and bell) sugar snap peas,onions, asparagus, strawberries and I'm sure I've forgot a few others.

 

[URL=http://s246.photobucket.com/user/mjollnir17/media/thisyearsgarden_zpsb7afc3c3.jpg.html]thisyearsgarden_zpsb7afc3c3.jpg[/URL]

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Nice!  I'm yet to start my additional raise bed(s).  Though it looks like I could put something on top of the lettuce which has completely wilted to nothing over the last week.  :(

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Tiny amounts of weeding performed on regular basis...

 

 

I spray the area where I'm going to put the garden with brush killer and wait a couple weeks.  That seems to get the bulk of it.  Then lots, and lots, and lots of the above.

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We place metal roofing on the borders and move every 4-5 days or so to keep the weeds down on the edges. Once the plants are tall enough in the garden beds, we mulch heavy to both suppress weeds and help retain soil moisture. This cuts down drastically on the amount of weeding and watering needed. If you have a ton of weeds prior to mulching you can put downa layer of paper grocery sacks or if you have live stock, paper feed sacks. The paper will be broken down by the end of fall.

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