[NAFEX] price of food
Mark & Helen Angermayer
hangermayer at isp.com
Sat Jul 7 00:27:04 EDT 2007
Thanks for the words of encouragement. Maybe it's just my brown thumb that
makes gardening/fruit growing so expensive. I bought about 10 fruit trees a
decade ago and we moved before we got any fruit, but it wouldn't have
mattered since most the trees died anyway (back then I made even more
mistakes than now - fresh manure in the planting hole, no water, bushhogged
some, some got run over by truck, etc). So about 6 years ago we moved to
Kansas and tried again planting a few fruit and nut trees. In the last
couple years we've gotten pretty intense about it. Probably spent over $800
on trees, another $100 on brambles, $60 or $70 on "beneficial plants that
are supposed to attract the good bugs (BTW, it doesn't work here, there are
just too many pests for the beneficials to keep up with, I've made the
decision to "go chemical" for the most part.), $100 on fungicides and
insecticides, fertilizer bill, tools, and water (I've finally figured out a
lot of this stuff you have to water regularly if you expect it to live).
When it's dry, it's not unusual to water all this stuff for three or four
hours at a time. I'm sure I've left things out, but all the money we've
spent on fruit would buy a lot at the grocers. If we ever have more fruit
than we can eat, and I'm not assuming that's a given (we lost four trees
just this year), then I have dreams of selling at a farmer's market. Not so
much for the money (in fact I tend to be stupid and sell stuff dirt cheap,
like those that sell 50 cent Okra), but just because I like farming and it
would be nice to recoup some costs.
The gardening story is a little better, but our tomatoes get hit hard here
with early blight, which killed several plants last year. This year I
expect to turn the $30 spent on gardening (seed, water, and straw) into $10
worth of produce. Out of 34 tomato plants many are dead, and the ones alive
were set back enough it will be awhile before they start setting tomatoes
again. We got about a bowl of green beans before the plants died. Around a
dozen pods of peas. The only thing that seemed to love the rain was the
sweet corn. Anyway, on balance the garden has probably paid for itself over
the years, but I don't keep enough records to know just how much we've
----- Original Message -----
From: "Donna &/or Kieran" <>
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, July 06, 2007 9:47 AM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] price of food
> >The 12" of rain we got in 4 days ruined most our garden. (Kansas)
> Yes Mark, all of us east and south of you could have used some of that
> and the stuff Texas got, and I'm sure you all would have been glad to let
> have it. It's the weak jetstream, not blowing the weather east like it
> should. Agricultural production will be a fraction of normal (maybe half?
> Surely not over 2/3) in 2007 for the entire southeast, and I assume that
> excess rain is adversely affecting crops in those middle states that are
> getting all our rain.
> As for the price of food, yes, fruit is very easy to grow in quantity
> those places where it is easy to grow. Has fruit growing been cost
> effective for me here where fruit is NOT easy to grow? Not at all!!! But
> keep working at it, looking for what does well here. I have been a fruit
> "scrounger" for the nearly 25 years I've spent in Tennessee, and THAT has
> been very good for our food bills over the years, esp when the kids were
> growing up. The fact that I have been able to get fruit from trees
> years ago means that if you can find the right fruits, the right
> the right rootstocks, the right location, the right soil, and get them
> established, they can be very productive.
> Blackberries would have to be number one, esp as we eat most of them
> fresh, or with value added as wine. Apples come a close second,
> when the sheer volume I have collected is considered. Again with value
> added as dried fruit or as wine, they have been an exellent "buy". Pears
> have begun to catch up with apples in terms of volume, as they do better
> here on our boron deficient clay soil than apples. Some of these have
> very good ripened to perfection for eating raw, some get dried, some have
> gone into pies, into curries, into wine, and into hot pepper jam and
> pear/quince butter. Then there are blueberries. The local human
> avidly consumes some 8-10 tons per year of Hector Black's annual crop
> I think will be his first crop failure in 30 years). Last year my 10 year
> old plants did very well. My investment totaled $40 for the plants and
> about $14 for some bird netting last year. I expect the plants to
> me, getting bigger every year. And local peaches, plums, chestnuts have
> played a small but much appreciated part in our diet.
> Gardening is a different matter. Gardening ALWAYS pays for us. We
> only hand tools, have spent very little on fencing as the dogs love to
> deer away, and I do save my own bean, tomato, and crowder pea seeds. Not
> only do we get the best quality produce, but I don't have to make
> at the grocery or farmer's mkt and then find I bought too much or too
> little. The produce sits out there, informing me what I'll be fixing for
> dinner, and it's usually willing to wait a few days while I juggle with
> has to be eaten first. Mind you, though I have spent a lot on seeds
> overall, it is a fraction of what I get back. A certain amount is always
> wasted because I keep trying things that usually don't work out, but the
> experimentation has been a big help in finding what does do well. If you
> want encouragement in this regard, get a copy of BREED YOUR OWN GARDEN
> VEGETABLES, by Carol Deppe. Carol describes the most elegant yet simple
> techniques she uses to evaluate new varieties, and tells stories of
> efforts and the steps along the way. She has a very interesting list of
> species that are used for food and their relatives, including fruit. She
> has certainly been an inspiration to me in my garden. It is due to her
> of course to many NAFEXers that I have watched my wild blackberries for
> interesting variations. Now that my young Kiowa plants have managed to
> mature a few fruits despite the Big Freeze, I see that although they are
> very large as advertised, that we have some very large wild blackberries
> that make a pretty decent showing. Though I must say, I am a little
> as to how they got the grape Koolaid flavor in the Kiowas....
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