I’ve talked before about how I consider planting a garden to be a form of investment. By investing time plus planting material like seeds, roots, plants and trees, the gardener is creating what I like to call a ‘futures market’. But instead of speculating on market gyrations, or hedging against price movements, those of us who garden are helping to make our own future harvests of edible goodies.
I can think of some of our perennial plantings that give us so much for our modest investment. Like asparagus, for instance. We planted two 30 foot rows in 2007, and another one in 2008, and this year we were rewarded with almost 30 pounds of asparagus spears. With any luck this patch will continue to produce for many more years to come.
And then there’s the blueberries, finally coming into their own this year. We planted five bushes in 2007 to go with three we already had. This year, we have harvested 45 pounds of them so far, which is quite a return on our initial investment!
Blackberries are another fruit that always does well for us. Last year we harvested 35 pounds of them. They are just now ripening here this year, but the plants are loaded and it looks like it will be another good year for them. This year we will have two new varieties to taste, Natchez and Ouachita, along with our favorite Apache.
But the annual vegetable plantings can’t be overlooked either. For the modest investment of a pack of seeds, so much food can be harvested. This year I am growing the Boston Marrow winter squash. One big one has already set on, and others are coming on now. If only this one huge one ripens, I will have gotten my money back on the seeds.
Other winter squashes hold the promise of future harvests too. Like the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash (aka neck pumpkin) in the below photo. This is the fourth year I have grown this variety, and it has performed well for us every year. It looks like the one below will have a nice long neck, which is one of the features of this variety. I see pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread in my future for sure!
I am growing Waltham Butternut this year too. It is setting on fruit now, and promises sweet tasting, orange-fleshed future meals for us!
Gold Nugget is another dependable winter squash here. My wife and I love these sweet tasting squashes that are just the right size for the two of us to share.
A newcomer to our squash futures program this year is the Amish Pie pumpkin. It’s the first time I have grown this one, and the first time I have grown anything called ‘pie pumpkin’ in a long time. It gets rave reviews from gardeners, and I hope in the future I will be raving about it too.
I invested in a Thanksgiving harvest this past week when I planted some Brussels Sprouts. They take a long time to mature, so it may well be Thanksgiving before I harvest any of them. But they are pretty hardy, and I can also remember enjoying them on New Years Day in years past. This year I am trying Diablo and Gustus, since my long time favorite variety Oliver is no longer available.
I see plenty of potatoes in my future. I dug some of the Russian Banana fingerlings this week. Some of them got roasted with garlic for dinner last night. I am definitely seeing a return on my investment of the seed potatoes I bought.
And looking at the basil patch, I see pesto futures! The bunch in the below photo went on a pizza we had for lunch yesterday.
I’ll close with a vegetable I invested in back in March, when I sowed the seed for these eggplants in the below photo. These are Hansel and Fairy tale, and hold the promise of many more eggplants in the days to come. These got grilled for dinner last night.
We continue to haul in lots of beans, cucumbers and summer squashes. Those crops have more than paid for themselves this year, and we have been sharing them with friends and neighbors as well as donating them to local organizations. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, or dreaming of harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.
Wow! A double wow! You have made that yard of yours pay off in multiple dividends.
Fantastic investment and thank you so much for this post – it completely proves that what we’ve been doing has value! We also planted asparagus and fruit trees and bushes with the long term goal and in a year or two they’ll be in full production. Given the ever-rising prices of the market it’s a definite win for us. And since we plant heirlooms for most veggies I collect my own seeds for the future years as well. Can’t go wrong with it.
Saving seeds is a great example of another way of investing in future gardens!
Supremely jealous of the berries – both black and blue. I am hopeful of a small crop of blueberries this year but it will be a long time until I get to even half of your 45 pounds.
Great post. Wish I had the space you have to plant all those perennial fruits and vegetables, but I’m limited to what space I have in a community garden. So I also make a value calculation. Last year I realized I was planting too many perishable items like lettuce which you can’t preserve but can only give away or compost. This year I am starting a transition to planting less of that and more of valuable things I can store, like onions and garlic. I don’t grow the common winter squashes because they take too much room and I can buy them at local farm stands for 10-20 cents a pound, so it isn’t worth the investment of space to grow them. But it may be worth the space to grow varieties that you can’t find at the farm stands and would never have a chance to try. That’s the trade-off calculations that go on every winter when the seed catalogs arrive.
You’ve hit on another of my strategies – grow things you can’t easily buy. Or varieties that are unique. I wind up getting things like corn, lima beans, blackeyed peas and strawberries. I could grow any or all of those, but I’d rather let someone else do it.
MMMmmm THESE are the kinds of investments I can sink my teeth into! 😀 I look at my garden the same way. All your squash has me jealous. I adore a good winter squash.
There’s other less obvious returns on investing in the garden such as the sheer enjoyment of watching things grow and the healthy diet from eating the bounty. Lots of good stuff coming your way!
Yes – the less tangible returns are important also, like the exercise and the healthy food. And of course we grow many things that bring pollinators, butterflies and birds to the garden. In return we get a peaceful backyard habitat that is a source of enjoyment for many creatures, including us!
Yeah, saving the seeds is what helps me a lot. One thing I forgot though was when I picked my tomatoes that I wanted to save the seeds out of, I used painter’s tape and a pencil to label it. Don’t do that. I now have seeds that just say Big. Could be Mortgage Lifters, German Johnsons, German Queens. I don’t know. Surprise next year! Great crop you have going there. Getting my fall crops ready myself but I will wait until the second week of August before getting them in the ground.
Great looking harvest again this week Dave. I’m really going to have to learn to like winter squash, there so much fun to grow but we just don’t like them very much so they never seem to make it into our garden.
That Boston Marrow is a beauty. It’s a shame that many people no longer consider a fruit tree or productive gardens an investment, but they are. The bean counters know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Wow..I am so envious of the perennials!! I have been watching not just you but many here for a few years. I do not have a blog yet but really enjoying reading everyone else’s. I garden myself but my garden unfortunately changes depending on the place we live. My husband is in the Army and we just moved to Hawaii. We came from Kentucky where i could plant in the ground on post. Here i am stuck to containers. And I am still learning the climate and what grows well etc. Its like having to relearn to ride a bike..lol
Sounds like you have expanded your gardens a lot. I had to reduce the size of my garden due to my neighbour’s trees, not only are they shading my plants their roots are robbing nutrients from my plants.
You are growing so many interesting winter squashes, I am looking forward to reading about them in future posts.
Your garden is doing awesome. I like the looks of that Golden nugget squash. I might have to try that one next year! My Pennsylvania Dutch is doing great! I have at least 5 growing and one of them is just HUGE! Even since I did my squash post last week. It is a giant. I am very much looking forward to it. This is what I love about Harvest Monday, all the ideas!
Oh yes, I love this perspective! The bounty is absolutely always worth the effort…you just have to have a little vision and patience to get you through 🙂
Having just spent an entire week plus canning and freezing produce, I think ‘futures’ is a perfect term!
I’m impressed with your blueberry harvest! I can’t wait to picking that much fruit.
Boston Marrow, and Waltham Butternut, are very much the anchor squash in our winter squash patch. I suspect your Boston will set more fruits than you might expect for such a large variety. Ours always impresses us. We also planted Amish Pie this year, but our patch was hit very hard soon after transplanting by an explosion of gophers (we lost 50% of our plants before we caught the beast), and I think we’re down to just the one, so I’m hoping it will produce something!