Wednesday, October 5, 2011
How Much Does a Garden Grow: Tomatoes
Tomatoes are one of the first crops the home gardener attempts, or at least they should. If you have read Barry Estabrook's Tomatoland, you know that the conditions under which commercial tomatoes are grown is pretty unacceptable, and having your own for two months out of the year beats insisting on "imports" for 12.
In spite of a pretty bad tomato year, I still got a profitable tomato harvest. I brought in 28.5 pounds of ripened tomatoes, and 10 pounds of green tomatoes to ripen in the house. At two places in town, organic tomatoes were $2.99 a pound, and I am sure that they were picked before they turned red and allowed to ripen in transit. Therefore, I'm counting the entire 38.5 pounds at full price. This gives me a tomato value of $115.12.
I spent about $15 on seeds this year. I always get so many volunteers that I have switched to starting just a few seeds to try new varieties or introduce some new genetics into the mix that produces the interesting crosses suited for our microclimate. In this case, relying on seed and volunteers kept me profitable, because buying 10-12 plants at $3 each could have wiped out a good chunk of my relatively anemic little profit.
I think this was a bad tomato year for most of our area, yet we did eat a good number of tomatoes and canned a couple of pints. I'm not excited about the result, but like all good gardeners, I immediately think, "wait til next year!"
2011 Tally to Date: 121.68 lbs of crops; $186.88 saved