16 January 2009

Making your vegetable patch pay

I'm starting to get excited about this year's vegetables. I already have some onion seeds in trays on the living room window sill and a tray of mixed lettuce seeds next to them. These will be transferred to the greenhouse once it warms up a bit. While browsing around trying to find out exactly how hardy onion seedlings are, Google took me to pages of the Vegetable Growing Handbook: Organic and Traditional Methods by Walter E. Splittstoesser. This book was published in 1990 and looks like an interesting read. For example, he shows a table of value ratings for particular vegetables, based on the space they occupy, their yields and their monetary value, on a scale of one to ten. This was developed by the US National Garden Bureau (no date given) from feedback given by expert home vegetable growers. I've reproduced the table here (click on it for a closer look):
So, to get the most value from your plot it's best to concentrate on the higher-rated vegetables, particularly if you're short of space. As long as you like them, that is. I also liked the mention of a study in Ohio which was published in the journal Horticultural Science in 1978 by Jim D. Utzinger and H. E. Connolly which calculated that...
...a garden of 150 sq ft produced enough vegetables to provide a return for labor of $1.08 per hr; and this value was calculated after all expenses, including depreciation on the garden tools, were deducted. Few leisure-time activities pay you for doing them.
I'd love to know what that $1.08 figure would be in today's money. I wonder whether vegetables more expensive, relatively speaking, now, than they were then, for example? Organically-grown ones certainly are.

1 comment:

Lindab said...

These figures make a lot of sense to me. We've wasted considerable time and space growing pumpkins over the past few years, and as you can probably guess, pumpkin isn't a taste that Scots warm to. The plants at the top of the list seem about right for us. Our big challenge this year is to get on the right side of the 'effort to yield' ratio. Very envious of your bumper Canadian crops!