Are you planning on planting? Garden can be a wise investment

Monday, February 27, 2012

We wrote a month ago about the USDA giving us permission to plant a little earlier, by placing McCook in a warmer, revised "plant hardiness zone" map, and now we've noticed the lawn and garden supplies showing up in stores.

It's time to give this year's gardening plans a little more thought.

The major question to be asked, of course: Is it worth it?

That depends on the availability of garden space, the money it takes to plant it and how much time you have to care for it. Too many late-summer yards end up cluttered with May's good intentions overwhelmed by weeds and neglect.

But if you have the time and discipline, planting a garden this year can pay off.

A Kitchen Gardener International article written by a Maine couple, Roger and Jacqueline Doiron, a couple of years ago, makes the point.

Their garden, covering only 1/25th of an acre, produced $2,196.50 worth of vegetables, had they been purchased in a conventional grocery store, or $2,548.93 if purchased as organic goods from a store such as Whole Earth Foods.

Their expenses totaled $282 worth of seeds and supplies, a $12 soil test, $100 in compost and $40 in water.

Yes, their records were kept back in 2008, but it was done in Maine's zone 5b -- the same as McCook. And, inflation would make the vegetables that much more valuable, plus we suspect McCook rates would boost the water bill.

Of course, you want to make sure that seed, water and compost goes toward producing something you will actually eat -- unless you want to sell your extras at the Farmers Market this summer or give it to friends and neighbors.

At 14 degrees this morning and plenty of time for snow, there's no reason to get in a hurry. But taking a little time now to plan this year's garden can pay off next fall.

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