2016 in review

Over the last twelve months, I have been keeping a record of the approximate amount of money I’ve saved by growing my own. At first glance, the figures may seem a little disappointing at just over £100. The figures would have been £170 for the year but I spent over £60 on compost, seeds and such like.

On the other hand, the estimated saving is either the lowest price I would pay in a supermarket rather than the cost of buying the organic equivalent from say a farmers market. In other words, the saving to me on a purely financial level is possibly more like £5 a week.

In any case, it will be interesting to see what I can achieve next year. However, as this post is about the past twelve months, here is what I have learned about production:

• Tomatoes really need to be started as early as possible, so that they can be put in the ground the moment the risk of frost is over – and at a reasonable size. In this way, not only should there be more time for the fruit to grow but the plants should be less likely to succumb to blight or other nasties.

• Plants which get in the way of other plants need to come out. Poppy seeds are a nice crop if you have the space but I don’t. I collected enough seeds for perhaps two or three loaves of bread, whereas I could have made several jars with the tomatoes that could have grown in their place.

• Foraging is a superb way of feeding ourselves. Most of the fruit and leaves need some kind of processing but now we are self-sufficient in preserves and have food which is possibly more nutritious than that which can be grown in the garden (e.g. nettles).

• Hugel beds take a lot of work to build and the wood decomposes very slowly, in the meantime making planting difficult on occasion. The nitrogen loss because of the decomposition process going on under the soil also needs to be compensated for. However, it will hopefully all be worthwhile in a few years’ time.

• Bumblebees do sting. They don’t like me wearing my blue onesie. Maybe that’s a comment on my fashion sense!

• Strawberry jam with added rhubarb is even better than pure strawberry jam. 

• I like claytonia, my newest crop. The challenge now is to get my daughter to try it. On the other hand, she has overcome her reluctance to eat homegrown cucumbers.

• Gardening is great, however you undertake it. In these troubled times, it is a few moments of peace and hope.

Best wishes for 2017.

Lettuces enjoying a spot of frost earlier in the week

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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23 Responses to 2016 in review

  1. Kalamain says:

    I’m not going to comment on the savings but rather about the quality. Has your crops been better than what you could buy from the shops?

  2. Lovely post Helen. I wish I’d been so methodical! Hardly any time to even write posts lately! But I still love reading yours? I never see a like button unfortunately, otherwise I’d use it a lot! Anyway, wishing you a wonderful new year, full of blessings and a bountiful garden!

    • Helen says:

      Thank you, Kathy. The same for you as well.

      I haven’t seen any of your posts for a long time and was wondering how you were getting on with your endeavours. For example, what’s your verdict so far on the hugelbeds you were building?

  3. I’m all for peace and hope? If not, what else is there?

    Gardening is a wonderful past time. The fact that we can produce some food for the table makes it all the more wonderful. I’ve been reading a book about the cost-effectiveness of growing different crops. Herbs have one of the best returns, while potatoes have one of the worst. I’ll look up the title if you are interested.

    What fun to keep these records for the year. I applaud your due diligence. And frankly, even if you broke even, isn’t it a joy to eat what you grow yourself? There is nothing quite like it.

    • Helen says:

      There is certainly nothing like being to look in the garden and decide on a lettuce or a some broad beans just by stepping outside 😊.

      Herbs are definitely the overall winner, and last year my strawberries came in a spectacular second, I reckon.

      The record wasn’t too onerous, although I didn’t write down every last item. It got tricky with say jam that had some ingredients from the garden but not all. However, I am keeping a record this year to see how, with my increasing knowledge and hopefully better growing conditions, if I can better what I got in 2016. Of. Of course, you can never know as you can’t control for the weather or events which might prevent gardening taking place at the right moment.

      • One of the pluses of regular blogging is that you can go back and see what you did, when you did it, and the results. Perhaps you can add a page to your blog that tracks planting and yields by the month.

        In your spare time….;-)

  4. I’ve never been organised enough to compare costs. I just know I feel good every time I eat something I’ve grown, I enjoy the planning and I need the exercise. 🙂

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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