Thursday, October 7, 2010


For approximately eight times the cost of the equivalent items, and about thirty hours more time invested, you too can enjoy the fruits (or vegetables, as it were) of your own labor by gardening.

Gardening is big in the UK because the UK is the land of the landed gentry. That is, people who are so wealthy they have nothing better to do but to plow their money into plants. Gardening is big in my own household because this is the home of the unlanded unmarried. And since I don't have any spare mouths to feed, I can spend my money on smart phones, gas, and plants that will die at my hands.

Having a little bit of experience failing at gardening in the past,1 I decided to try my hand again this year.

It stands to reason that if one gardens, one can produce fruits and vegetables cheaply. This is because you are cutting out the middle man: the farmer. And since cutting out the middle man always leads to cost savings in infomercials, you know it will work for you as well, never mind that the middle man in this case has access to dirt cheap water and land that is not swarming in plant-eating snails.

In order to start my garden, I dropped about a hundred bucks on a variety of green-ish items that claimed to be future food. As of today (three months and about thirty hours of labor in), the sum total of my produce consists of:

  • Two yellow-ish squashes which look nothing like the picture on the seed packet, and are thus likely some form of cancerous growth
  • Fifteen fat little snails, having eaten (and enjoyed) my bean plants
  • Three cucumbers, covered in paint by the contractors who cleaned their brushes outside
  • One green pepper
  • Three dead pepper plants
  • Eleven (nice) flowers on my pumpkin plants that immediately died and withered away
  • One tomato forest covered in sawdust from the aforementioned contractors

All in all, I'd say that's a pretty successful venture. I'm no mathematician, but I'd estimate I spent about a dollar for every calorie grown. As for the alternative: for approximately three dollars and sixteen cents, I could have walked to the grocery store a block away and purchased all of those items, plus a chocolate shake.

Well, the paint would have cost extra.

Of course, had I done that, I wouldn't have had the enjoyment of sitting outside at night, trying to water my garden with a flashlight while getting eaten by mosquitoes. I would have missed out on the fun of hacking down a weed larger than myself with a shovel. And I wouldn't have been able to use the garden as the last, desperate attempt to win over women.2 3

1. Those who received my first sham Christmas Card (from the Perry Family, of course) will recollect the cucumber in my hands; the one lone item that my investment of an estimated $200 produced that year. Some people buy televisions, and others buy aphid bait (read: plants).
2. But I have a garden! Doesn't that indicate stability to you? You're evolutionarily programmed to seek stable men! Garden! Stable! Please, for the love of my unborn pumpkins!
3. I feel obliged to confess that I wrote this some time ago, and kept it, trying to think of ways to liven it up. It's now almost completely false, as I was inundated with tomatoes, but I'm not going to let all of this writing go to waste, even if that's exactly what I did with the tomatoes. So the cost per calorie eaten is probably about the same.


Josh Bingham said...

I have often thought it would be a good idea to grow my own stuff...then I read your post. No way Jose! Trader Joes and Milk Pail for me. Thanks for saving me some pain! lol

Anonymous said...

lol you have plant eating snails? Those have got to be a pain. Do they sell traps or something to catch them? We plant eating deer, I never thought I would hate deer so much until moving into my current house.


Holladay Duplex said...

I have calculated that everything we grow comes out to approximately $32 per pound. But the memories of washing dirt off of my children, out of their clothing, off of the layers of slug-infested-cabbages, and out of my carpet? Priceless. Glad to see others enjoying the cost-effective fruits of their labor as well.

By the way, I just discovered your blog tonight. And WHAT a discovery. You've made my evening much happier.