Monday, January 31, 2011

Net Value For Our 2010 Organic Vegetables is $3,415.18

As I end the year's calculations and record keeping, I am able to share the net value of the organic produce that I grew in my back yard garden. The vast majority of in-season prices were easily obtained from Harris Teeter Supermarket's Organic Section. The other sources of prices were Bennett's Creek Market in Suffolk, Virginia; The Organic Food Depot in Norfolk, Virginia; and Park Food Co-op, an on-line source. The most difficult price to identify was for the banana peppers. The next difficult one was the sugar pumpkins. Both of those prices were identified on the Parks Food Co-op website.

The breakdown categories are as follows:  Item * Quantity  * Unit Price * Unit of Measure * Total Market Value

Beans, Henderson Spring Butter 28.5 $1.99 Pound $56.72
Beans, Pole Green 59.5 $3.69 Pound $219.56
Blueberries, Climax 0.016 $13.28 Pound $0.21
Blueberries, Premier 0.594 $13.28 Pound $7.89
Broccoli 6 $2.49 Pound $14.94
Carrots, Chantenay 0.56 $2.49 Pound $1.39
Chard, Rainbow Swiss 2.3 $3.99 Pound $9.18
Chard, Ruby Red Swiss 24.25 $3.99 Pound $96.76
Chives, Perenneal Herb 0.125 $0.66 1/4 Ounce $0.08
Collards, VATES 265.3 $1.99 Pound $527.95
Corn, Whiteout F1 86 $1.00 Ear $86.00
Cucumbers, Spring Crop, Slicing 397 $1.99 Each $790.03
Eggplant, Black Beauty 32 $1.83 Pound $58.56
Grapes, Reliance Red 0.063 $3.49 Pound $0.22
Herb, Dill, Boquet OG, 0.125 $0.66 1/4 Ounce $0.08
Herb, Sorrel or Schav 64 $0.66 1/4 Ounce $42.45
Herbs, French Tarragon 16.59 $0.66 1/4 Ounce $11.01
Herbs, Rosemary 21.95 $0.66 1/4 Ounce $14.56
Leeks, Large American Flag 7.5 $3.99 Pound $29.93
Onion, Green 0.438 $0.79 Pound $0.35
Peppers, Banana, Sweet, Mild 16.59 $2.73 Pound $45.29
Peppers, Giant Marconi, Green 182 $1.99 Each $362.18
Pumpkins,Organic Small Sugar 3 $0.94 Pound $2.82
Raspberries, Heritage 0.75 $0.67 Ounce $0.50
Squash, Butternut Waltham 3.19 $1.69 Pound $5.39
Squash, Yellow/Green Zephyr 5.2 $2.49 Pound $12.95
Sunflowers, Giant Mammoth, Seeds 1.75 $1.75 Pound $3.06
Tomatoberry 5.48 $1.75 Pound $9.59
Tomatoes, Brandywine 345.5 $2.99 Pound $1,033.05
Tomatoes, Juliett 29.4 $3.99 Pound $117.31
Tomatoes, Matt's Wild Cherry 1.4 $1.75 Pound $2.45
Tomatoes, Parks Whopper 246.4 $2.99 Pound $736.74

The gross value of my 2010 crop $4,299.18

My garden expenditures for 2010 were $884.00

Actual net value of 2010 organic vegetable crop is: $3,415.18

This coming year, I expect an increase in the total weight/value as I plan to employ the Value for Space Rating (VSR) while planning my garden this year.  You can read more about VSR at Mark's address .  Thanks to Mark for sharing that important information with all of us. My record keeping in Microsoft Excel allowed me to determine which crops were most beneficial for me to plant, which is basically what the VSR does when applied. It's really an excellent way to approach gardening. It's not applied to get the most dollar value or most weight from your garden. It's to get the most of the vegetables and fruits that YOU use. THAT provides the best value.

Thanks to all the visitors that stopped by since I began my blog on May 31, 2010 and for all the comments that were shared. Each and every one is appreciated, and served as a great inspiration.
I look forward to a great new gardening year, and to sharing it with all of you.
Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Just Couldn't Wait "Till" Spring!

Today's temps are supposed to reach the high 40's. I hope they're right! I want to go out there in the garden so badly that I almost can't stand it.

In a previous post, I showed my container vegetables and herbs that I brought in and put upstairs in my summer kitchen. For the most part, they are holding their own, some even growing to the point of being suitable for harvest.  There is insufficient lighting from the small window that faces west, so I'll have to set up my lights to boost their growth.

The green onions are growing, although they are a little lighter green than usual. I'm hoping that setting up the lighting will cure that. I might just go ahead and harvest them next week. They would sure taste good in a dip.

The ruby red swiss chard is getting leggy, so I'm actually thinking about planting them outside in the garden and covering them with plastic to protect them until they get a little larger, then just removing the plastic altogether.

The chives have grown nicely while inside.  There's enough for a small harvest already.

The sorrell seems to be the happiest of the plants inside. It is filling out very well.

Remember the leeks that I planted in the flat on August 26th? Well, here they are! They may have grown an inch since I brought them in, but it's hard to tell. I must admit that they are durable, as they're still living in this flat after being frozen and snowed on three times. The ones that I had taken out and planted in the garden didn't appear to grow at all.

The fennel seems to be surviving, but if it's growing at all, I can't tell. At least it's not dead. After the last frost of the year, I'll be planting it outside for the butterflies. The dill doesn't look like it's going to make it. There's a 3/8 inch sprout on it and I have it in the sunshine, so maybe it will survive. We'll have to wait and see.


The Sweet Basil germinated very well...

as did the Parsley...

and the Cilantro. You can really see how they have been reaching for the sunlight.


Friday the temps hit 50 degrees! That was all I needed to break out the tiller and give the garden a good going over! I'm getting my additional fence fabric ready for the new crops after the last frost is gone. Which, by the way, concerns me, given the winter everyone is having. I think there's a very good possibility that a late last frost might sneak in and surprise us.

The tiller did just as I expected near the fencing. I was able to steer the tines under the fencing and then around the posts from both sides, and it worked perfectly. This was just the first tilling to break up the soil. I plan on heavily applying compost under the bean fencing, and then thoroughly tilling it in before I plant the beans. According to the material I've read, that is supposed to alleviate the need for crop rotation in a small garden, as it introduces micro-organisms, minerals and all the other good things that compost provides for the garden. Doing  it this way saves me from having to remove all the fence fabric and pulling the posts and resetting them all in a different spot. I can really only move them a few feet.

The Brussels sprouts and broccoli in the east field are still looking poorly. I'm leaving them in until I'm actually ready for spring planting. Then, out they come, bearing or not. You can hardly see it, but the swiss chard is still there to the right in the picture.

The collards, Brussels sprouts and broccoli in the west field are in rough shape. This is the first year that I haven't been picking collards through the winter. It's just been too cold for them to grow. In the green strip between the bags of leaves and the brown soil is a row of swiss chard that is really trying to grow. The leaves might only be 3/4 inch long, but with the time we have left until spring planting, I'll let them stay and maybe I can harvest some nice leaves later on. When we get a week of 50 degree weather, they'll jump up quickly.

Today is Saturday, the day after my tilling. Boy, am I glad that I got to till yesterday. Today's high temp was 23 degrees! What a change!

I hope spring gets here soon.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pruning My Grape Vines

The time was right for the recommended annual pruning of grape vines. I trained my grape vines using the four arm Kniffen system. The second year's vine growth wasn't much to speak of, but last year's growth was so heavy that it would require substantial pruning in order to get the vines to the recommended condition for their fourth year of growth.

This pruning was going to be a big deal for me. I was apprehensive about it,  as I had read in several articles of pruning guidance that it affects the next grape harvest significantly. After reading about fruiting canes, buds and renewal spurs, I was thoroughly perplexed. After studying the vines, I went ahead and did it as carefully as I could.  Ultimately, I calculated that some pruning is better than no pruning at all and I lopped off the vines at what I perceived to be the appropriate points, taking into consideration the age of the vines. In my life, I have seen a few grape vines that have produced grapes year after year, even though the vines weren't pruned. All my reading on the subject said that the vines must be pruned back. I was hoping that however I did it would still be beneficial for the next year's harvest.

Here are some pictures of the completed pruning. If anyone has experience pruning back grape vines and sees additional growth that should be pruned back, please don't hesitate to tell me.

Thanks for visiting my blog, and if you have a suggestion for improvement on my pruning, please  share it with me.
Have a great gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 10, 2011

Harvest Monday 10 January 2011

Although I have no harvest for today, I wanted to share a little garden news with you. This is a short video giving you a look at my Swiss chard after I pruned off the brown leaves and cultivated around them.

No harvest with the current weather conditions! The ground is frozen one inch down. See how it cracks next to my heel print at the bottom of the picture?

The Brussels sprouts, collards and broccoli are dormant. They're waiting for an increase in temperature before they begin to grow again.

The Brussels sprouts and broccoli in the other "field" aren't doing any better. Some of the leaves are getting burned by the constant low temps in the 20's and 30's.  We haven't had a winter this consistently cold for decades!

This is one of my 1/2 barrels with salsify growing in it under a sheet of tempered glass.

This is the other one. Salsify is reputed to taste like oysters when you sautee it in butter. My wife became allergic to seafood, so I'm trying to grow this for her. She loved oysters!

Here is some fennel that had been covered by snow. I brought it into my summer kitchen upstairs in order to revive it. I have several plants up there healing from the cold.

Here is another container of fennel that is doing pretty good up there. They've only been inside for two days. I think they'll start growing vigorously in about a week.

This is some dill that was really bad off. I think it will make it, but it will take several weeks in the warmth.

I also brought up my green onions and chives. No need to lose them if I have warm space for them to grow.

This is my container of sorrell. It sits right in the sunshine in the afternoon after 1:00 p.m. It looks good! Now if it will just get some size to those leaves, I'll be all set.

This is a short video of my 20 month old grandaughter helping me plant Ruby Red Swiss Chard.

She did a wonderful job! This spring I'm going to have all my grandchildren helping me plant the garden. They love it so much, and they'll remember it for the rest of their lives. They'll always be vegetable gardeners!

This is the Ruby Red Swiss chard that my grandaughter and I planted several days ago. Pretty, huh?

This is my mini-greenhouse that Celie and her mom and dad gave me for Christmas! It came with the containers, soil, seeds, and it locks open or closed. It even has a built-in rod to hold up the roof for ventilation. Very neat!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK

Monday, January 3, 2011

Preparing Our 2011 Vegetable Garden.

It was sixty five degrees on New Year's Day, 2011. I had to start the year off right, so I turned my compost pile. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

While turning the compost, I noticed there was more space in the leaf bin, so I added the contents of three more bags of leaves to it. I even put some compost on top to let the micro-organisms flow through when it rains.

While I was turning the compost and adding the leaves, my wife came and helped me with garden chores by beginning to pull off all the dead bean vines from the fence material. That was a time consuming process, but she completed two rows before I got there to help her. That was a big help to me!

I finally got to the bean fencing and helped with the tedious process of pulling off the vines. It's a funny thing. In the spring, you want them to grow on the fence as quickly as possible. In the fall, you wish they were off the fence as quickly as possible!

In a few more weeks, I'll be harvesting the horseradish roots so I can grate it for some nice hot, fresh  horseradish sauce!

This poor little collard plant doesn't know if it's a collard or a miniature palm tree!

After our two days of 60 degree weather, it turned freezing cold again! If you look close at the leaves in the top of the picture, you can see the raindrops that have frozen solid.

One of the  good things about these vegetables is that when you see how green they still are, you know they will make a comeback.

The broccoli, collard greens and Brussels sprouts are tougher than one would think. They have maintained most of their green color and the newest leaves are healthy looking. When warmer temperatures return, we should begin to see new growth sprouting from the stalks of the plants.

We still have to finish cleaning off the bean fencing so I can take it down and till the soil. The beans will be located in another area of the garden next time. I'm really trying to rotate my crops on a regular basis this year.

The Swiss chard leaves are brown and nasty looking, but just two consecutive days of temperatures in the 60's and new growth has sprouted! Hopefully I'll be harvesting some before too long if Mother Nature cooperates.

That's it for my first post of the new year.

Have a great vegetable gardening day!
Veggie PAK