I already know I reap big dividends from enjoying the superior flavor, freshness and lack of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in my home vegetable garden. But just for fun, I like to track and weigh my harvest all season long and then calculate the value of the same produce if I were to buy it in the supermarket. When possible, I'll use current organic produce prices in the store, but if an organic equivalent isn't available, I'll use the going price for non-organic produce to establish the value of my own vegetables.
Here, without further ado, is the haul from this year's garden, ranked in order of monetary value:
Tomatoes:148 tomatoes harvested, or 63 pounds! This came from 5 plants that eventually exceeded my height. I have frozen enough to last all winter in delicious soups and stews. I also gave away quite a few to my mother and my auto mechanic. Their non-organic value I calculated at $62 (at .99/lb); I couldn't find organic tomatoes in the store on the day I checked prices, but I imagine they'd cost substantially more.
Stringbeans 25.6 lbs. I overplanted these and was rewarded with more green and yellow beans than I could pick, but I did enjoy them in lots of three-bean salads. Just tonight I enjoyed them in a curry sauce over rice. The non-organic price for stringbeans was $1.49/lb, so the value of my 25 pounds would be at least $38.11.
Lettuce: @14 servings. I have quite a bit of late-summer planted lettuce growing now, but I don't care for this variety and am not eating much of it. The 14 servings came from spring greens that I planted.
Cucumbers: 12. I only had three vines this year and one by one they were hit by wilt and kicked the bucket mid-season.
Wineberries: 4.25 cups. This is just a drop in the bucket compared to previous years, when I picked daily throughout the month of July and froze for winter use, but I was sidelined by a fear of tick encounters, and in fact, I just started on a course of antibiotics after contracting Lyme Disease for the 4th time. I'm angry with myself for letting that happen, as I really do try to be careful, but it appears I'd need to practically chain myself indoors to be assured I wouldn't be bitten.
Zucchini: 9, or 6.78 lbs. Due to space limitations and the desire to try a few new vegetables like cauliflower, collards and soybeans, I only had a single plant, which, like the cucumber vines, met a somewhat early demise.
Cherry tomatoes: 163. I had just two plants and they rewarded me with plenty of perfect little red globes I snacked on like candy. I almost prefer these to the big ones.
Snow peas: Lost my tally but estimate around 2 pounds.
Green pepper 15 (48 oz)
Cauliflower: A single 14 oz. head. These were fun to try growing, but aside from that first head, they got too buggy to consider actually eating.
Broccoli 14.5 oz. I recall only harvesting a single head of broccoli and the rest of the time I picked quite a few of those little side shoots, which worked great in stir fries, although these, too, got so full of tiny green worms that it became more work to pick them out than it was worth. They were so hard to pick out I started getting a little paranoid that I would miss one or two and end up eating them.
Collards: 16 oz. I should have been more on top of the little green worm situation before they got out of hand and riddled the collard leaves with holes.
Basil: 20 servings. I used the basil exclusively to make my own pesto sauce with olive oil, walnuts and parmesan cheese. It's addictive.
Yellow squash: 3 (31 oz). Also a mid-summer victim.
Edamame: 17 oz (unshelled). This was another of my "experiments." I enjoyed eating the bright lime green beans, but realized rather late that I would need to plant many, many more soybeans to really get a decent harvest, and that's unlikely now because I also realized they take up valuable real estate. Unlike regular beans, you have to wait til the end of the season, practically, to harvest them. So their longer growing season would seem to make them somewhat unsuitable for my smaller garden. I'd like to tell you its size, but it's irregularly shaped; it's roughly 150 square feet.
All told, my very conservative estimate of the total value of my produce is $224.39. I say conservative because I used non-organic prices for about half the vegetables, including the tomatoes, which represented the largest harvest.
After deducting for expenses (mainly seeds and seedlings), I figure I netted $170.93.
Then again, I gave away quite a bit of food to my mother, father, mechanic and a neighbor. But that's what growing vegetables is all about, I think. Sharing the bounty.
Can't wait til next year!