Jiminy crickets, the garden is in full bloom! Mid September came up on me without realizing. That’s not surprising given we were baking in mid to high 30’s (celsius)! While I love the summer warmth and what it brings from the garden, I’m looking forward to the temperate weather fall brings.
But back to late summer gardening….
City Allotment Garden
In my decade of living and becoming immersed in the city, I’m occasionally reminded of assumptions I used to have but have long forgotten. One of them being: only people in suburbs or country have a big garden. So in my continued resolve to be more self aware, I’m including a section on my 15 x 40 foot city garden allotment experience.
Commuting to work and your garden?!
Other than the fact that I have a big garden, it’s location causes the second most conversation. It’s not right out my door or within a few minutes walk from home.
A 40 – 60 minute commute is the norm for us city dwellers. Assuming you live and work in the city. Whether you drive or take transit, it rarely seems to make a difference. On top of a one hour commute to work, I’ve also been commuting 30 minutes to my garden the past 4 months. I like to look at it as a challenge; it forces me to be organized, creative and efficient with my time.
I thought I might get tired of the drawbacks, but so far I’m still fine! Daily time is the main challenge later in the season. I’m now occupied all day — more to come on that in another post. It can be a challenge getting there every day it’s needed. Especially if it’s been a hot day and I really should water. There’s been at least a few occasions when transit wasn’t cooperating or I’ve been held back too long to make it before dark. It’s frustrating when your harvests suffer from lack of water.
Having a built in network of fellow gardeners continues to be a boon for learning. I’m soaking up the knowledge, and even sharing some! When I’ve had an abundance of some vegetables, as often happens, I’ve passed some along to others. I’ve also been able to enjoy some garden vegetables I didn’t grow this year from other’s generosity: cucumber, garlic and onions!
The first half of the summer, I harvested vegetables about the time I expected. The tomatoes and hot peppers stumped me though. Being heat loving plants, I fully expected them to come into abundance by late July. With the weather being right, I was worried I had missed my mark on water or soil nutrition… Instead, tomatoes started ripening closer to end of August, and hot peppers are coming into their own mid September and still going strong.
- July: gold nugget squash, beans, zucchinis and basil
- August: beans, zucchinis, tomatoes, shishito peppers, eggplants, watermelon and various herbs
- September: zucchinis, tomatoes, shishito peppers, eggplants, espelette pepper, mystery hot pepper (plants gifted by gardener), various herbs
I’ve mentioned it a few times, but this summer has been HOT. Like melting into a puddle of water hot. We went weeks at a time with no rain. So watering the garden every day was necessary most of the time. Remember the late ripening tomatoes? Apparently they can’t ripen above a certain temperature. Anyone else heard of that?
It also firmly resolved an idea for next year’s garden: building a makeshift shelter area to get shade. Many days it was daunting to work in the sun past 8am. I was lucky enough not to be working this summer so I could go early. But that’s unlikely to be the case next year. So an idea is taking root: Building a structure that has space for two seats and have squashes and beans climb the structure to create shade!
The bulk of the gardening cost was borne the first few weeks we found out we snagged a plot. In the May update, I broke down the costs. To summarize:
- $88 one time cost for gardening equipment needed. This won’t need to be bought again unless it needs to be replaced. We saved $132 from equipment left behind.
- $144 in soil prep (compost, on-going fertilizer, etc) and city plot fee. Some of this will be a recurring yearly cost
- $78 in seedlings and seeds. This should be lower next year as now that we know we have a garden, we can start more from seed.
When I say living frugally, to me this means aligning how I spend money to my values and what is most important to me; not all of my hobbies, like gardening, are done because it saves us money. Gardening can certainly result in savings on your grocery bill. This being the first year we have a plot, I’m not sure that will be the case. And I’m fine with that.
While we track our spending and saving, we don’t do it in a detailed per category budget amounts. We moved away from that a while ago and do it naturally through intentional spending. To accurately track how much we’re saving on groceries, I’d need to go back and tally monthly bills this time last year. Which I could certainly do but I won’t bother. I don’t think it truly has enough value. Having said that, I’ll try my best at guesstimating how much we’ve harvested would have cost us. Which will indicate of sorts an amount of saving on our grocery bill now and throughout the months ahead.
Prices used to estimate value was based on our regular grocery store that have the best prices in our area.
|Zucchinis||65||$290||Based on grocery store $1.97/lbs. 11 zucchinis at 6 lbs and 54 at 1.5 lbs|
|Gold Nugget Squash||11||$37||This is based on acorn squash prices. This variety is only available at specialty stores|
|Basil Pesto||4||$22||This is based on the cheapest basil pesto (1.11 per 100 ML). So far we’ve amassed 1L. More accurate pricing would be to compare to speciality stores for quality of ingredients.|
|Peas||400 grams||$4||This is a best guess|
|Green beans||17lbs||$34||This too is a best guess|
|Eggplants||9lbs||$18||Based on 1.97/lbs|
|Shishito Peppers||80||$238||Hard to estimate as no store sells these. Basing on Jalapeño pepper price (2.97)|
|Espelette Pepper||46||$137||Hard to estimate as no store sells these. Basing on Jalapeño pepper price (2.97)|