how i’m measuring garden successes

While weighing my rhubarb haul the other day, I started to think earnestly about what the best way is to measure success in the garden. I was weighing the rhubarb mainly out of curiosity. At the grocery stores here,  fresh rhubarb is currently around  $4/lb. I was just wondering what the dollar value of my rhubarb would be.( $80 so far, in case you were wondering,too)

Weighing what comes out of the garden seems to be the most used method for measuring food production success. We see it all the time on homesteading blogs and articles. “This family grew 2,000 lbs of food in their backyard!”. Totally an actual headline. But here’s what I’m thinking…is that really as impressive as it sounds? I mean, does that weight have pumpkins and tomatoes happening in it or is it a lot of  romaine lettuce and snap peas?

My rhubarb is valuable dollar wise and rhubarb is awesome to have. I have lots of plans for it but my family isn’t going to subsist on rhubarb alone. Spinach,though…. that’s something we eat a lot of. Spinach leaves are light. 8 oz costs around $3 here. It’s more expensive than rhubarb and more practically valuable for us but it’s never going to add a whole lot to any weight total. If I manage to grow even 5 lbs of spinach, that’s worth a confetti and streamers celebration to me.



Potatoes. We eat a lot of them,too. I decided not to grow a large amount of potatoes this year though because I can buy them pretty inexpensively from my favorite local produce vendor. Less than $10 for a 20 lb bag. If I was measuring my success by pounds, I could use the weight of potatoes on my side.

Weighing the garden harvest for just the sheer weight total feels disingenuous to me. The entire reason I am personally growing food is to alleviate the financial costs of feeding my family. It makes more sense for me to put dollar amounts on this. That’s weird for me because I hate equating dollars with value & success but here it will make sense.

I think stating the weight of garden wealth is also somewhat of a slap in the face to those who are growing with obstacles. Like very limited land or just balcony or patio space. Growing 12 oz of herbs might be a huge success, even if it’s not hefty. For that matter, everything we manage to grow can be a very huge deal.



6 thoughts on “how i’m measuring garden successes

  1. You are right on target. Grow what you like to eat but are reluctant to buy at the grocery store. It could be because you want it fresher. For example, green beans and summer squash are often pretty sad looking by the time you buy them, but they are easy to grow. It could be because you want to know how it was grown. At home you control chemical use age, for example, on that spinach. Don’t fool with things that take too much space for a good crop, like corn. And don’t fool with stuff that is not adapted for your climate. For me, in Texas, that means no rhubarb! And try to grow the amount you can use, so there is no waste, or have a plan for your extra crop.

  2. Your thinking about this is right on the money (pun not intended). For the cost per pound I can feed my family much better on store bought cabbage, carrots, and potatoes and home grown herbs and greens. I have a very limited garden do to space and light. Right now I have raspberries (I can share the plants if you have an interest), oregano, and garlic growing. I did plant 4 potatoes just to try my hand at it and I planted 2 Jerusalem artichokes a few years ago and now have a 6’X6′ bed of them that I try to kill every fall.

  3. I not only weigh what I produce, but have gone completely “garden geek” and made a spread sheet that i also research grocery store costs for that item, how much square footage I used to grow the crop, which then calculates the production per square foot, and market value of what was produced. I have plans to revise the spreadsheet for next year to enter cost of seeds or starts, and an additional field for costs of organic pesticides / fertilizers, etc. What started me on this weighing track was the poor clay virgin soil I started with. After 3 years of adding composted food scraps, chicken manure and bedding, my garden started to produce. I set a goal last year to produce 150 pounds of organic produce, and ended up with 276 pounds… from a 30×30 ft garden. GARDEN GEEK, surely I am, and PROUD!

  4. Pingback: Poor as Folk

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