Final Update for Summer Garden 2010 & Giveaway Winner

by formerchef on November 6, 2010

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In Southern California our gardening season begins early and contrary to popular thought, ends early too, or at least it did for me. Despite my best efforts at staggering the planting, most of my garden was finished by early September when others were in the full flush of their tomato days.

Many of you have been following along with the saga of my garden this past summer be it the battle with my digging monsters or the desire to answer the question of  “what price gardening?” Below are photos of the devastation I found when I came home from 2 weeks in Cambodia. Even though there was nothing growing in the beds, and nothing covering them or preventing the animals from climbing inside to dig to their little heart’s content, they persisted in digging under and ruining my nice pathways. All those boards and bricks were tossed asunder by something smaller than a medium sized dog. 

2010 Summer Garden Wrap Up:

What I’d do differently next time:

  • Make a better effort at staggering the tomato planting so I could have a longer growing season.
  • Plant heartier varieties of tomatoes (many of my heirlooms ended up with blossom end rot or just did not produce).
  • Let seedlings establish themselves more before transplant.
  • Plant peas earlier.
  • Find better ways to keep the animals from digging under the raised beds-I will probably dig them out and line the bottoms with chicken wire next time.
  • Find a way to organically control the ants which took over my eggplants as a personal farm.

Here’s the final count on the harvest and the cost:
Tomatoes*
(7 plants, different varieties): 90 lbs
Green Zucchini (1 plant): 40 lbs
Yellow Squash (2 plants): 15 lbs
Globe Eggplant (6 plants):10.5 lbs
Japanese Eggplant (2 plants): 12.5 lbs
Japanese Cucumber (died): 1.75 lb
Basil(12 plants plus seedlings): 5.5 lbs
Misc Herbs: 2 lbs
Other items planted but died; lemon cucumbers, peas, bell peppers, potatoes.
Total: 177 lbs of organic produce

Most of this produce went into our regular meals, some was given to friends and family and some was preserved:
Marinara sauce -16 Quarts
Ratatouille -4 Quarts
Pesto (6 cups)
Frozen Zucchini- 5 lbs
Zucchini & Arugula Salad-Made many times this summer
I was determined to have as little waste as possible and any waste there was went back into the compost bin.

What price the joy of a home grown vegetables?
Total for Summer 2010:
$340*
To see the start of the accounting process and why I’m doing this, see When Does “Growing Your Own” Become Too Expensive?
*273 is for hay, alfalfa, compost and organic fertilizer to fill the garden beds and for this year’s building supplies (wood, chicken wire, caging for tomatoes), and $67 on plants and seeds. 
This does not include the expense for water which I really am not sure how to calculate.
Obviously my cost next year should be much lower because I’m not going to have to spend money on the building supplies which can be re-used for years to come.

By my calculation, if I’d bought all this organic produce during the summer at the peak of the season (when costs are lower) at my farmer’s market or Whole Foods, I would have spent somewhere between $450 and $500. So, despite doing battle with the various animals in my neighborhood, the back breaking work, the heartache of dead plants, I think it was worth it both financially and for the fun of it. I loved being able to go out into the garden and then serve up a platter of freshly picked, perfectly ripe, home grown tomatoes. Yes, it was worth every cent.

What’s next?
I’m not sure. We don’t really get frost here, so in theory, I could plant a “winter” garden, but since I’ve never done that, I’m really not sure what to plant. I’m open to suggestions.

My sad, empty garden. What should I plant this fall/winter?

Earlier in the week I posted my recipe for Cambodian Roasted Eggplant and Pork along with a Giveaway of a few select items I’d brought home from Cambodia. It’s now time for me to announce the winner.

Congratulations to Katharine who left comment number 3 saying, “I don’t know if I can pick just one flavor combo. But I’ve been intrigued recently with tomato and ginger together. As in green tomato chutney, for instance. Generally I like spicy and sweet together! Yum.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charles G Thompson November 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I’ve really enjoyed following along with your gardening posts. Since I can’t have a garden at home myself it’s been fun watching you have one. Must be a great feeling to cook and eat produce you grew yourself.

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2 formerchef November 7, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Thanks Charles, it is a good feeling. I’ve had a garden on and off for many years, but this is the first time I’ve tracked the cost and the yield and it was a really eye opening experience.

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3 Gudrun November 8, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I planted a cover crop in my raised beds last year, which at least was something interesting to look at. In the bed in the front of the house, I planted garlic and red onions, which turned out great. Wish I had planted more of each, they became really valuable in the kitchen!

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4 formerchef November 8, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I’ve never grown onions or garlic. I planted some onions and of course, the raccoons dug them up along with the potatoes. I suppose that makes sense in some karmic food way…

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