Author Topic: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening  (Read 5311 times)

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8909
  • Location: Australia or another awesome area
Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« on: December 23, 2014, 02:37:02 AM »
Yesterday I noticed that my blackberry plants have RIPE blackberries on them. I picked a bit over 2 kg today and yesterday (more than 4.4 pounds). I went to the supermarket today and they were $5.88 for a punnet with 125g in them (1/8 kg) - so what I picked is worth more than $100!

The blackberries are thornless. Each year I trim off the previous year's canes and get rid of any that are beginning to grow further out from their designated area (blackberries in Australia tend to be weeds, so you need to keep them in their place). And of course I pick them. Over the next few weeks I will probably pick another 15 kg.

I have always felt that fruit tends to be easier to grow and more expensive to buy, so it is better value. However, beans and tomatoes and silverbeet are excellent as well.

I tend to concentrate on fruit that we love (have the capacity to eat a lot) and that doesn't take much maintenance, and that is expensive. Sour cherries are just about unobtainable, as are Seville oranges. The sweet and sour cherries finished a couple of weeks ago, the peaches and apricots are just about ripe, and then will come the plums and greengages. Raspberries have been coming in a small handful every few days for weeks, and there are still a few.

What do you grow that gives you the best returns?

nora

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 216
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 04:48:45 AM »
Most of what I grow is cheap at the time that I harvest it so not so good there. Zucchini, silverbeet, capsicums are looking good but not ready yet, rocket, rhubarb. I think the value for me in home gardening is the freshness and taste. This year it is all in pots, so a new experiment for us.

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5411
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2014, 05:15:35 AM »
Your cherries that you bought to the meet up Deborah were Delicious! thank you!
So far I have only 1 fruit tree, a newly planted lemon that the wallabies ate and nearly killed - now netted and just starting to come good.  O and a Davidson plum - an Aussie native that is quite sour and can only be made into jam/sauce with lots of sugar. It ripens right at Xmas every year she I am too busy to utilise the fruit.
I am planning on planting bananas, a mulberry, an avocado or two, and a finger lime. I think I can find blueberries from QLD that will go OK in our subtropical clime, but we don't get any frost ever so no chill factor. Permaculture people say fruit is the most efficient source of food because once the tree grows and bears there is not much work involved and that you should plant fruit first. I should have planted fruit trees before now, but the spots I want to put the trees require major clearing/felling  so not there yet.

Silver beet would have to be the thing that provides a good yield over 9months of the year,  not much maintenance and importantly nothing much eats it. ( my kids say there's a reason for that). Potatoes and garlic I've found efficient in that  once you plant them, they just do their thing. Once again nothing much seems to eat the potatoes. Cucumbers yield extremely well - a big glut last year and again most critters find them inedible and I grow outside nets. Tomatoes now I have the knack are yielding pretty well but I need to fiddle with them, staking, pruning (if too bushy they get mouldy here), bagging the fruit to keep worms out, and generally trying to keep them inside nets.  Rocket is easy and prolific.  Herbs are generally easy and save heaps of money if you actually bought them, generally at $2 a bunch, most of which goes bad.

NeuroPlastic

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
  • Location: New Hampshire
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 05:21:43 AM »
We grow strawberries, black raspberries (not found at all in stores around here), red raspberries and peaches for fruit here.  Lots of value returned for what we put in to it.  Strawberries are out biggest, and we yield about 50-70 pounds each june.  And we can pick all this fruit when it is ripe, rather than when it is "shipping-ready".

Herbs are another high-value garden item for us.  During the warmer months most meals get a  fistfull of fresh organic herbs, probably $5 to $10 worth if bought at the store.  Oregano, basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint, sorrel, nasturiuim, rosa rugosa, lavender, chives and more.

Spinach, lettuces and various greens are in the greenhouse in late winter/early spring, sometimes over-
winter.  Much savings over store bought.

Tomatoes, potatoes, corn, beans, etc. in the main garden.  The economics are less certain here...

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2014, 05:28:11 AM »
I have always felt that fruit tends to be easier to grow and more expensive to buy, so it is better value. However, beans and tomatoes and silverbeet are excellent as well.

Although it'll be another year or so before most of my plants really start bearing well, I agree that growing fruit makes the most sense. That also explains why beans and tomatoes are a good value, since they're technically fruits too. ; )

I'm currently growing apples, pears, asian pears, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, muscadines (a non-bunching grape native to Georgia) and pawpaws (another native fruit), and I'm planning on planting some pomegranate bushes this winter.

I also grow assorted herbs and vegetables, of course.

Retired To Win

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1494
  • Age: 72
  • Location: Virginia
  • making the most of my time and my money
    • Retired To Win
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2014, 07:28:06 AM »
Our blackberry bushes basically just grow wild along our perimeter fence.  And it is definitely GREAT to be able to pick fresh berries daily for our breakfast.  Free, too.

I also know of a HUGE blackberry patch semi-hidden away along a hiking trail in a nearby state park.  If you plan ahead by carting in a container (which I do), you can hike out with a gallon of berries at a time.

(Of course, it's winter in the US now, so no homegrown berries for us for a while.)

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1617
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2014, 07:48:11 AM »
Best return is definitely blackberries and raspberries, and asparagus and asian pears and fresh basil.

Poor returns have been strawberries (the local wildlife adore them - I really only get to eat some if I'm willing to cut off the bits that someone else has chewed on), American persimmon (we planted fruiting size and after four years, last year was the first year we got some, so maybe they're turning around) and blueberries (the soil here just isn't right for them).

To be seen: I just rounded out the yard with two apple trees (now I'm out of tree space!) at the end of the season this year.

I also do the usual bunch of veggies. My best returns there are tomatoes and my worst are squash (due to vine borers).

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2014, 08:17:06 AM »
Poor returns have been strawberries (the local wildlife adore them - I really only get to eat some if I'm willing to cut off the bits that someone else has chewed on)

This issue applies to a lot of what I grow: it tends to progress directly from "unripe" to "missing" without a "harvest-able" step in the middle. I need to do something about the excess number of squirrels...

Rural

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4849
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2014, 08:18:43 AM »
Free fruit makes a great return, of course, and I have so much of it I haven't bothered with any plantings. I can count on blackberry, blueberry, elderberry, wild grapes, wild strawberries, and wild cherries every year.

Thegoblinchief

  • Guest
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2014, 09:19:35 AM »
I'd like to get some fruit started soon, but I need to think carefully where I want my permaculture beds to go. Of conventional fruits, raspberries, strawberries, apples, and sour (Montmorency) cherries do really well in my climate.

I spied the book "Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden" at the store. I put a library hold on it that hopefully will go through when we get back from holiday. At least a few of the fruits I saw while flipping through it are very common ornamental plantings here, so I might have some additional options.

EDSMedS

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 205
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Washington, DC
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2014, 11:05:33 AM »
I'd like to add to all ROIs that you are also NOT spending time/money on other more frivolous hobbies such as shopping, video-gaming, street racing, or yachting!

Cheers to all!

Rezdent

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 813
  • Location: Central Texas
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2014, 11:23:34 AM »
We've done well with the more uncommon fruits as well.
Figs, loquats, persimmons all produce well for us.
We also have kumquats, Satsuma, and a Meyer lemon tree.  These need occasional  protection from freezes a few times per year, but oh so worth it.  A single organic Meyer lemon can cost as much as 3.99 USD here.  This year our tree has 60 of them at various stages of ripeness.
Kumquats are difficult to find and expensive but I love them fresh and cooked.
The cactus fruit has probably been the most frugal for us. It was a free cutting, produces both fruit and pads, and is prolific and practically care free.

southern granny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 534
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2015, 05:30:59 PM »
We only grow tomatoes and peppers.  We can them along with onion and seasonings to make salsa.  We have it as chips and salsa, but also use it when making vegetable soup and also chili.  It not only saves money, but cuts back on the time required for cooking the soup or chili.  No matter how much we make, it never lasts the winter. 

Primm

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1323
  • Age: 50
  • Location: Australia
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2015, 05:43:59 PM »
I'm in the planning stages of my garden as well. We bought a new 100 year old house in April 2014, and so far the garden is grass. Not even lawn really, far too many weeds for a lawn.

I'm on board with the fruit growing thing. My plan is to plant fruit trees and bushes that grow well here and are expensive to buy. We already have a mango (every old house in the state has a mango!), so my little back yard will contain avocado, raspberries, a lemon, a lime, possibly a finger lime, and some vegetables and herbs. I'm planning out a potager garden with some purely decorative stuff mixed in, so the high yield stuff like tomatoes, capsicum, zucchini and varieties of lettuce that look good and can have their harvesting periods stretched out are what I'm thinking.

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5411
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2015, 04:23:31 AM »
Since this thread mentions economy, I'll add this here. Think I'm done growing potatoes. They're fun to grow, but I think not cheap. I paid $22 for 24 coloured tubers, and a couple of bales of straw, and manure (? maybe another $20).  I got nearly 8kg yield, so these suckers cost $5/kg with a lot of small ones that aren't very usable. These purple/crimson potatoes, the few times I've seen them cost about $5-7kg. Admittedly I have a heap of good soil from it all rotting down, so there's a secondary yield there.

Does anyone know how to increase the yield, or is a kg per 3 tubers about right?

Thegoblinchief

  • Guest
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2015, 05:14:56 AM »
First off, I haven't tried potatoes yet. Probably will try this year. But from what I've read, potatoes prefer LOW nitrogen, so I wouldn't manure at all. In fact, potatoes are typically a good final rotation crop right before manuring to grow a heavy feeder like corn, squash, greens, etc.

Instead of straw, could you hill up using spare dirt, leaf mold, or something else that's freely available?

The yield seems right based on the figures I've seen, but reduce your inputs.

Penny Lane

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 203
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2015, 06:31:43 AM »
I grow fingerling potatoes only, as they are largely unavailable in shops and hugely spendy.  The yield for these is pretty good, the salads made from them are gorgeous.  If you have kids, potatoes are fun to grow and harvest, the blossoms are pretty and they require very little work.  I would not manure the year they are planted; they prefer more acid conditions than other veg and so I would not lime either ( or wood ash).  I don;t have potato beetles here, but those are another job for kids.

mrsggrowsveg

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 542
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2015, 07:32:40 AM »
I would say almost everything we grow costs way less than stores, with the exception of strawberries.  Ours were no productive at all.  Our fruit trees provide so much fruit we are giving it away to friends by the bucket load.  I also can a ton of it.  Other super productive and easy plants for us are garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, radishes and heads of lettuce.  We always have more than enough of those.

Jack

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4734
  • Location: Atlanta, GA
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2015, 08:30:22 AM »
I would say almost everything we grow costs way less than stores, with the exception of strawberries.  Ours were no productive at all.

Although some commercial growers use particular techniques to grow strawberries as an annual, they're "normally" a perennial that fruits starting in the second year. Read this publication, specifically the parts about the "matted row system" vs. the "annual hill system."

gaja

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1287
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2015, 11:39:43 AM »
Until now it has been a question of "what will survive". The answer to that is redcurrants, wild strawberries and potatoes. If DH hadn't gone berserker with the lawnmower, I think the rhubarb would have survived too.

The coming season we will be living 600 km further south, in a town that actually has sunshine in the summer. I think I'll need a year to figure out what to grow in that climate, before investing in a lot of seeds and soil.

deborah

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8909
  • Location: Australia or another awesome area
Re: Growing Fruit and the economy of gardening
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2015, 03:03:48 PM »
If DH hadn't gone berserker with the lawnmower, I think the rhubarb would have survived too.

We don't have lawn. We did in our last house. SO used to get out with the whipper sniper and then the lawn mower. If I had planted a tree, or something else where he wasn't expecting it (even if it had been there for a year or so), it was gone! Now things are safe.