"Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Transference and Transformation

One of the big problems with having crappy soil is that you've got to build it up in order to get anything of value back out.  What is it they say?  Garbage in, garbage out?  But this takes time and the only short cut you can take is to buy your compost and toss it in.  

We were spreading our bulk compost the other day.  SM is in the pickup tossing it out, I'm in the garden tossing it into another pile that's closer to the bed that it will eventually end up in. 

That's the problem with bulk compost.  It's cheaper than the bagged stuff but you've got to put some effort into getting it where you want it to be.  And this garden is now "officially" too big to toss it there in just one step.

Anyhow, as we were transferring the good stuff around, we're also talking.

"You know, for $28 a load this is pretty good stuff" I say admiring the crumbly blackness of the compost.  "I mean, it's a good investment, but some people would say that's it's not necessarily a smart one."

"What do you mean not a smart one?"  SM asks.  "We've chosen to grow our own for the taste and for the health of it.  Can you put a price on that?"

"Well, you can buy organic at the store...or just be ignorant for that matter and just keep buying the same ole, same ole like we do now."  I point out.  "It's not like we're there yet.  We still buy produce and fruit at the store and I don't shop organic.  Too expensive."

"True.  I did buy those grapes from Sams the other week.  They came from Chile so who knows what kind of chemicals and crap are on them."  SM reflects.  "They were good though."

"Well, even that's a matter of opinion.  How do you know that they were all that good unless you ate some grapes that we grew here at the house and compared.  Remember the lettuce?"  I ask.

(*One of the first things we grew here was lettuce.  I still remember how good that home grown lettuce was fresh out of the garden.  We rarely eat store bought lettuce (when it's out of season) because of the taste.  Or lack of it.)

"Still, even though this hasn't been a cheap thing to do right now, I still think in the long run it'll pay us back tenfold as the years go by.  We shouldn't have to keep tossing compost into this for much longer.  All we'll need to start doing is tossing in organics for maintenance."  I pause, thinking about the future.

"How much do you think we've spent?"  SM asks.

"You don't want to know..." I say, shaking my head.  "Tally it up. Trees, bushes, compost, wood framing, fencing, seeds...This is not a cheap thing to do at all.  That's why some people might consider this a pretty stupid thing to do.  We've probably dropped at least a grand into it so far.  Can you honestly say that we've eaten a thousand dollars worth of fruit and veggies?  Of course not.  That's why it's an investment in our future.  A transformation."  I say waving my hand encompassing the whole of the backyard.

This blog is named 500 Dollar Tomato because at the time, that's the amount of project money we had to start with.  As the years go by and we keep making improvements here and there, it all adds up.  And more to be spent still.  On the radar is getting the worm towers started, buying shade cloth in anticipation of the hot, hot scorching Summer and rain barrels.

It may have started off as a 500 dollar "project" but it will eventually turn into an actual 500 dollar tomato.

How prophetic...


  1. Perhaps. But that tomato will have TASTE. And VITAMINS GALORE. And, in some small way-you're making a small piece of the planet healthy. And that has got to feel good.
    Have a great weekend, Tami!

  2. "Tally it up. Trees, bushes, compost, wood framing, fencing, seeds...This is not a cheap thing to do at all."

    Ah, but that is the outlay cost. Once everything is growing as it should, you'll discover that it is not that expensive. And you'll never have to run down to the shops because you've run out. And it's healthier. And what you'll eat is fresher...

    Well, worth it in the long run in my book.

    And, look at the conversations you're having with SM as a result - nothing better than communicating with one's other half about the REALLY important things in life ;)

  3. It's true, there's a tradeoff for things like this. We pay in either time of money. Even so, you'd still have to haul those nice prepackaged bags around, and worse(!) dispose of the bags! (I'd love to get compost for $28 the truck load, she says with envy.)

  4. Pay now with money, or pay later with your health.

  5. I think you would be surprised at how much your fresh veggies are worth. I keep track of all my harvests and gardening costs. Last year my garden was $2300. in the green and it was a lousy year! Locally grown fresh organic fruit & veggies are really expensive.

  6. I have to agree with everyone's comments, but Robin nailed it - local fresh organic produce is rediculously expensive. I buy organic and I know that we spend on average 700-800 a month and it's only 2 of us (and 3 cats) so while it's expensive to build at the start it's well worth it later as you'll get that garden to produce year after year and it will be so much better for your health!

  7. What we have to buy we buy organic because what we put into our bodies is what will keep us disease-free especially as we (ahem) age. We think of the expense as health insurance. Fortunately, we are to the point that we grow enough of our fruits and veggies for a year round supply. At present, we're not "growing" any meat except goose and chicken meat so we eat a lot of that. (Although I cook with meat more as a flavoring than a main dish.)

    The price of food (organic or not) is going to keep going up and up so you're way ahead working to get your gardens established. No way would we be eating our fill of fresh raspberries, for instance, if we didn't grow them ourselves. Would I have purchased blueberries to make my pie this morning? No way, too expensive. But I still have a boat load of fresh frozen ones in the freezer for my use.

    You'll get there, just keep shoveling along. And think of the great exercise (which also keeps you healthy!) you're getting with the gardening work!

  8. There are so many things I get out of the garden that I can't put a monetary value on it. It's not just about the quality food. I eat more vegetables and fruit because it is plentiful, I get more fresh air and exercise because I work in the garden, I compost more because I am thinking of adding nutrients to the garden, and it is a hobby that I really enjoy. The bonus to me is the garden feeds us.