Saturday, July 22, 2006

The New Math

Since my old math was faulty, I thought I'd try again with a different problem.

I'm experimenting with Square Foot Gardening this year. I had success with it in a tiny garden at our previous house, so I expanded it this year. I don't think it applies to every situation, but I like it.

But one of the tenets of this method is that you don't scatter your seeds and then come back and thin them out later. It's an extra step and a waste of perfectly good seeds. You actually plant individual seeds, spaced appropriately to start with. (It's not that hard.)

I grew eight spinach plants this year. That's eight seeds.

Those eight seeds gave us more spinach than we could keep up with, and I ended up giving more away than we ate. (Note to self: Learn how to preserve spinach. It couldn't possibly be hard. Blanch it and freeze it? Just freeze it? Dry it?)

But that's not the end of the story. Of those eight plants, I let three of them go to seed. Most people pull their greens when they bolt, and sometimes plant a new crop in it's place. I'm trying to learn seed saving. (Again, can't be that hard, right?)

Spinach is especially easy to save seeds from.

(Oops, I ended a sentence with a preposition. In the words of Winston Churchill (supposedly), "That is something up with which I will not put.")

It is especially easy to save seeds from spinach.

(There, don't you feel better?)

So from the three plants that I let go to seed, I got over 40 grams of spinach seeds.

Ok, you're thinking, "Wow, 40 whole grams? How can he lift that much?"

But 40 grams amounts to about 1,500 seeds. Think of that. 3 seeds to 1,500 seeds.

So let's review. If a packet of 100 spinach seeds costs $2.00, that's about $0.02 per seed. So we planted $0.16 worth of seeds. We probably got the equivalent of one of those bags of spinach greens you see in the grocery store from each individual plant. Let's say those bags go for $2.50.

That $0.16 got us $20 worth of spinach.

Then tonight, my son and I collected about 1,500 seeds, in 10 minutes, while sitting on the front porch, enjoying the summer breeze. At $0.02 per seed, that's another $30.00.

Where else can you turn sixteen cents into fifty bucks in two months? Gives new meaning to the term "greens", huh?

I'll go one better.... Where else can a three-year-old turn sixteen cents into fifty bucks in two months? He didn't do all the work, but he helped with every stage. His rate of return is essentially the same as mine.

And they say you can't make money with agriculture. It just depends on how you look at it...


At 7/24/2006 8:20 AM, Blogger Beo said...

Markets would be the key-I'll trade you spinach seeds for some Zinnia seeds from this years crop. Seed saving, which I just started last year with Sunflowers and Zinnia, has made gardening into something even more wholesome for me. This year I will try for Peas, Beans, and maybe radish and carrot. I also want to harvest from my natives.

Then there is the whole 'breeding true' thing-the above I am only planting one cultivar so I hope its a none issue.

Happy (second) harvest!


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