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How much money did you spend when you started??

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  Chopper on 4/9/2011, 11:07 pm

RE: money spent, and this already may have been mentioned:

It is a little pricey getting set up, as is any first time garden that is properly done but that is 90% of the expense. If you use that same garden for five years only adding some new homemade compost with each new crop then it is your original price divided by five. Each successive year is cheaper and you still get great veggies and vegetable prices are unlikely to start going down.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  myhouseofBOYS on 4/9/2011, 11:22 pm

@ftroopmom wrote:
and then there are the seeds... Laughing

I was a bit taken back by how many seeds I had left over when we were finished planting. I don't know anyone else with a garden, and the package says that they expire at the end of the year.

Is there a way to preserve the seeds for a longer period of time so that perhaps I can plant them next year? Seems so wasteful to let them go unused.

Karen

I think most seeds last much longer. The date on the package is the sell by date essentially. Probably most akin to meds. They don't stop working the month they expire but they slowly become less potent (but we can't be assured by how much so for tylenol you can take 776 mg instead of the 800 stated on the label and not know the difference but for blood pressure meds eeking much more time would probably not be wise). Seeds are the same way, your germination rate will drop as time goes on but shouldn't come to a screeching halt by next year.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  middlemamma on 4/9/2011, 11:40 pm

I have seeds packets I bought in '09 that are still germinating just fine....you have more time on "most" than the packet says. Some things, like artichokes already have a super low germination rate probably won't be worth anything after year one...but that is the exception, not the rule.

Some folks here do know how to save their seeds to get the most from them, be refrigerating them, or keeping them in jars....I do NOTHING special with my seeds... I'm just lazy I guess...and I am happy with my germination rates from my older seeds.

Smile

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  tkdtara84 on 4/10/2011, 1:04 am

@staf74 wrote:
@tkdtara84 wrote:
@Hyzleyes wrote: That puts us at a base price of $3/sq ft.

You know, that seems expensive, but (assuming it's successful) if you were to buy the produce that will come from that one square foot, you would probably break even, and if you garden for just one more year, you'll come out way ahead.

I really can't see how that is expensive. For one, we are talking about 3 harvests per square per year at least. If just one of those squares was a Bell Pepper plant for example, you will easily see 10 of those peppers on a single plant growing in MM. Seeing as they are about $1 a-piece right now and almost double that to purchase organically (which many of us, including I, do) then you are actually breaking even and perhaps even making a profit before the end of a single season if you do it right and maximize each growing square. 16 carrots are about 2 pounds and cost about $3. For most crops that I can think of, you are going to recoup your initial $3 investment and some.

Just sayin Smile

PS I know you alluded to the fact you could "probably" break even but it is my experience that it is guaranteed.

What I meant was that the startup costs are expensive-- at least, $500 is expensive to me, but I suppose that's all relative, as I'm sure some can easily spend $500 without batting an eye. I'm not one of those people, so that is just my perspective.

I also didn't mean to imply that you, personally, spent a lot because I think the $500 mark is just a little on the high side of average from what I've read.

My comment was meant to be more positive-- saying that although the startup costs seem like a lot because they happen all at once, a person would recoup that over the course of a season and end up saving money over a few seasons.

As for the peppers, etc.-- you're absolutely right. Where I live, a three pack of colored peppers is about $3. I usually don't buy them because they're so high. Having a garden means we'll get to eat a wider variety and more vegetables than we would otherwise.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  milaneyjane on 4/10/2011, 1:11 am

I think I will claim amnesia from when I did the garden last spring.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/10/2011, 8:17 am

Is it actually a cost/expence, or an investment? Improvements to your home are an investment, so why not improvements to your garden?

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  Barkie on 4/10/2011, 12:02 pm

I'd say it's an investment as well as for pleasure. I like growing my own anyway but not buying all of our fruit, herbs and veg saves us quite a bit of time and money every week.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/10/2011, 3:40 pm

Ftroopmom

Glad you joined us.

As far as storing your seeds, perhaps the date on the package indicates the "Sell By" date as opposed to an expiration date.
Most seeds can be stored for a few years, though the germination rate may drop.

In the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING book, Chapter 6, How to Plant Your All New SFG, page 118, Mel suggests placing your seeds in a very cool, dry place, such as refrigerating in a wide mouthed jar using dessicant (or dry powdered milk wrapped in a tissue) inside the closed jar.

By the way, very few seeds last only one year, artichoke is one example of a very short lived seed.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  staf74 on 4/10/2011, 9:09 pm

What I meant was that the startup costs are expensive-- at least, $500 is expensive to me

No you are absolutely correct. My personal start-up costs were much higher than most I'm sure at $500 but I was responding to your quote. It appeared you were responding to the poster who stated they were at $3 per sq ft for cost as you had quoted that figure in your post and that was somehow expensive. My beds were all 12 inches deep, so much of the extra cost went in extra the lumber size and then the extra in MM to fill those beds, so admittedly overkill for sure. I also did pvc piping, rebar, plastic sheeting for my hoop wagons and other misc items not really needed for initial start-up. But as you rightly said, its all relative because I still think my garden is a steal at that price and for the harvests I've been able to consistently get but who am I to tell you its not expensive to you Smile

I wasn't meaning to criticize your post or get defensive over my own costs but merely to point out that like any venture, you sit down, crunch the numbers and make the decision if the venture is a profit making one / satisfies the soul (or both) and worth the initial investment. From my own math / experience, SFGning is a home-run all day long. I only posted to appeal to people here lurking or on the fence who may get scared off by going for that initial investment for fear of failure. I only began last fall and my results (in my mind at least) have been nothing short of astounding.

Thanks for taking the time to respond and input your viewpoint Very Happy Its what the forum is all about and only makes it stronger.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  Old Hippie on 4/10/2011, 9:50 pm

Ummmmmmm.........I kinda prefer not to know Embarassed My DH has sometimes asked me and I am glad I don't have an actual amount to tell him. Ignorance really IS bliss.

I should join Compulsive Seed Buyers Anonymous because of all the packets of seeds I buy on a whim no matter where or when I see them.

Gwynn

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/10/2011, 10:05 pm

In the ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING book, Chapter 6, How to Plant Your All New SFG, page 118, Mel suggests placing your seeds in a very cool, dry place, such as refrigerating in a wide mouthed jar using dessicant (or dry powdered milk wrapped in a tissue) inside the closed jar.

BINGO! If you didn't do this, FM, I would have. Perfect.

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costs for SFG startup

Post  westie42 on 4/10/2011, 10:45 pm

This is my first year at SFG. My first two beds are 4 1/2 ft by 12 ft by reason of getting a steal of a deal on 2x10 cedar planks and didn't feel like wasting any lumber so have odd sizes. Being a skeptic I went with 10 inch depth for carrots etc. Tried to be careful so bought good stuff for the MM. At 70 I may need to slow down gardening anytime soon so this is an investment in perpetuating my gardening a while longer and at this age a gamble on cutting corners don't seem like a good bet. My costs are near $5 per square foot, high mostly due to the extra depth. My next boxes may be standard 4x4 six inch depth depending on how this goes and what I see as the best bet for any further expansion. Seeds and plants are not in this figure. My materials cost seemed at or below average for most materials as listed in the forums. This particular thread reminds me of listening to my wife talk. Always changing the subject to avoid answering the question at hand.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  shannon1 on 4/11/2011, 4:55 am

My SFG garden will only cost me $4.60 per sf.
How is this possible? Well I asked my dear family to contribute instead of other birthday gifts this year. They were more than happy to do so since they remembered the wonderful SGF garden we had long ago. Mom gave me the super light insect barrier (a must for organic gardening here in FL), Mel's new book, BT, and tomatoes alive (that I find I don't need with MM but we wont tell her). My brother is suppling the parts and labor to build a 3'x5' table top box. This is the revised plan from plan A, for those of you that read my posts before about this project. I found 4 cubic sf vermiculite for 20 bucks, mushroom compost, cowpoo compost both for around 2 dollars per 40lbs and got a bag of damaged black hen that was taped up for 6 dollars, and a 2.2 cubic bale peat for 10 dallors. Since I could not get 5 different kinds of compost I splurged on a bag of organic mricro nuterints for 8 dollars.
Ways I make my garden pay aside from the wonderful food, is I make and give as gifts herble butter, Datil Peprer Vinger ect... Being an organic garden I can eat healthier than I could afford to if I had to buy the same vegies. I like to grow vegies that are unavailable too like purple bell peppers and black toms for example.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  NHGardener on 4/11/2011, 9:45 am

Great thread topic!

I'm trying to save my receipts so I can see exactly what this is costing me. But I would suspect it will be around $500 by the time all is said and done. The trick is to buy a little here and there - it doesn't seem nearly as insurmountable as thinking about a $500 layout. Smile Fortunately a lot of the things I'm buying are catching me by surprise, because if I had known from the beginning how much they were going to cost, I may not have done it.

Supplies I'll calculate: 2 Mel's books (unfortunately I got the older one first and then realized I needed the new one), cedar for five 4x4 beds (basically), stakes for the corners, conduit, the elbows which were ridiculously expensive, even the rebar was expensive! Screws, netting, SEEDS (you can go crazy on those), soil block makers (2 sizes), ingredients that were super expensive for the soil blocks starter mix because I didn't want to pay $10 shipping for the premade stuff from Johnny's and then I just basically used potting soil ANYWAY because it was too complicated to measure & mix all those ingredients together, heat mat, and then the MM ingredients which add up too. AND I'll have to get wire fencing to keep the chickens out of the great-looking dirt bath deluxe.

BUT, like I keep telling my husband, next year should be totally 100% free. So while each tomato will end up costing me maybe $10 this year, next year they'll be free, and if I can manage to keep at this, every year should make the whole project even cheaper. The trick is to do it for 50 years and then wow, what a bargain. Smile Smile

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  orazcajen on 4/11/2011, 11:49 am

Oh my goodness, I don't think that this was a very good thread for me to read! I think I was keeping myself in some sort of denial about how much this will cost to set up. lol

I was planning on doing three 4x4 beds with a 2x10 lumber. Maybe I'll cut back to two beds.

I need to get to pricing Mel's Mix for around here!

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  boffer on 4/11/2011, 2:16 pm

@orazcajen wrote:I need to get to pricing Mel's Mix for around here!

Have I got a deal for you! All the 3 way mix you'll need. (grass, leave, horse manure) Come get it. You'll pass stores getting here that have the cow and chicken manure composts to make 4 and 5.

And last but not least, a steal on medium and extra coarse vermiculite just to get it off my hands.



chicken dance

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cost

Post  ErinAdkins on 4/12/2011, 7:00 pm

This will be my 2nd year with good quality garden soil (my dad told me about it and failed to mention mm) I bet I have spent close to $1000-$1200 dollars on 3 8x4 boxes(wood, screws, weed block), garden soil, seeds, plants, building trellis'(pvc pipe, elbows, brackets, nylon rope), netting to keep birds, the neighbors' cat, and my dogs out, mulch for around the outside of the boxes so I don't have to weed eat around them, compost can, and rain barrel. I will start gathering the ingredients for MM during this growing season and over the winter so I can begin next year with the new "perfect soil" Very Happy

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  talltree on 4/12/2011, 11:51 pm

Boffer, are you selling or offering for free?

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  myhouseofBOYS on 4/12/2011, 11:53 pm

@talltree wrote:Boffer, are you selling or offering for free?

I'll be nosey and say I read his post as free compost and a "good deal" on the verm.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  boffer on 4/12/2011, 11:58 pm

yeppers, 3 way compost is free; vermiculite is cheap for the PNW

And how'd you sneak into the forum without my noticing? Yelm's not that big! I'm a half mile east of Lake Lawrence.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  talltree on 4/13/2011, 12:16 am

I'm not that far...just up from Monaco Stables on Vail. I'm just getting started with SFG.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  boffer on 4/13/2011, 12:29 am

I've got two ways to get to town. One is past you, but I don't go that way right now because of the road construction. PM me if you need some help getting started. I'd be happy to help.

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  shannon1 on 4/15/2011, 3:51 am

Total cost is in. $7.00 per square foot. Higher cost due to it being a table top. Here in good florida we can grow some thing to eat all year so it will pay for itself in no time producing organic vegies enough to feed me. Gifts of herb butter and datil vinger ect... Very Happy

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Re: How much money did you spend when you started??

Post  Goosegirl on 4/16/2011, 7:21 am

Not counting plants and seeds, it looks like just under $2.00/SF. BUT, I get ALL of my compost for free (lots of farm/ranch friends around here Very Happy ), I already had my weed barrier for the walkways, and I got much of my lumber either by scavenging or out of the bargain bin at Menard's. I will be adding more $$$ when it comes time to 'finish' the walkways, but that's fluff and can wait!

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Old cost thread revisited

Post  edfhinton on 3/24/2013, 4:25 pm

I read all of this old cost thread, and though it is old I find it interesting partly because I don't know if prices were lower back then versus today and also because in my first year my costs are WAY higher than anything anyone in the old thread posted for a comparable sized garden. So I decided to extend the old thread and explain what mine included. Granted, I have included a lot of stuff that goes beyond the basics, and did everything retail as I'll explain, but even at my higher costs I expect to eat healthier, gain exercise and enjoyment, and still have it pay for itself by the end of the second year, third year at worst.

So, my total investment up front comes to about $20 / square foot. Yep, a whopping $20 per square foot for 72 squares. Here's why:

1) I am lucky and can afford to trade off cost for time, and have very little time to run around finding all the bargains, and scraps, etc. So everything is retail, including the mix and including a rediculously high delivery charge for the mix. So call my experience a very high water mark based on being too busy to shop around. But that is one of the appeals of SFG. When everything is planted, I will spend just minutes most days pulling the odd weed, trimming suckers, watering and picking and enjoying the fresh veggies. With what I remember years ago from a row garden, I would spend far more time just weedng and watering and not keeping up, and not getting very good yields in poor soil where I was living.

2) Ordered the mix from Home Depot, and they are not offering free store pickup rigt now - only expensive delivery, so $400 for 42 cubic feet delivered. (That's a little more mix than I need - technically I only need 36 cubic feet, but I wanted extra for settling and for some pots of herbs that are not going in squares.)

3) I am making my boxes from cedar and they are 18" deep for a variety of reasons. The bottom 12" is compost that I can get locally delivered for the a comparable price to loam, so compost it is. The compost is costing me $35/yard for a fully aged combination of yard waste and horse manure. The top 6" will be the Mel's mix. The cedar I am using to build the boxes is the 6" wide decking built 3 tiers high, reinforced at the corners as well as along some longer sides. and the 3 tiers fastened with corner and flat brackets. Galvanized screws used mostly from the outside for assembly.

4) We have gophers in the area, including one huge hole we know of not far from where the boxes are going. So hardware cloth is going under the entire garden area, both under the boxes and under the fenced in walkways around it, so they cannot tunnel up anywhere inside the fencing. That's also one of the several reasons I went 18" deep. (Another being making it less bending to work the garden.) The hardware cloth will be attached to the boxes at the bottom, and whether I need it for deeper rooted veggies as well as carrots or not, I just didn't want to worry about deeper roots competing with the hardware cloth in the future regardless of my crop rotations.

5) Speaking of fencing, we also have lots of deer, and rabbits, etc. So my cost includes installing fencing around the entire 25'x8' area that the boxes are in, allowing room to work around the boxes. That's the same area (25x8) that the hardware cloth in #4 is under.

6) I am going to be growing vertically this year on trellises for cucumbers, two varieties of tomatoes, peas, beans, and I hope to vertical train the zucchini and maybe one of my two summer squash plants. So cost includes electrical conduit and fasteners for the trellis work plus netting. My trellises will be 7' high. Might not need to be, but I am optimistic and they will last as I get better each year. So even if I do't need 7' in my first year, eventually I expect to learn to get stuff that high.

7) My costs included building myself a three-tiered grow light stand and getting my initial shop lights, seed trays that I will reuse year to year, etc.

If all I did was build or buy $35 boxes 6" deep, and make my own mix, and plant direct to the garden, not seed starting inside, my $1400+ startup cost could probably have been about $450, or about $6/square even going retail for everything other than the mix. But animals would have had their way, I wouldn't be going vertical to get more produce in the space I have available, and I would not be able to get the indoor head start that I am getting while there is still snow outside now.

I am lucky to have the luxury of the ability to absorb such high up front costs, but I still think taking the long view that it makes economic sense ovr the coming years in addition to being fun and healthy.

Anyway, long story of how my startup costs come to about $20/square.

-Ed



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