Keeping a garden tally throughout the year is a good way to figure out if you’re making money in your garden. All this means is that you have an ongoing list where you mark how many vegetables you harvest. At the end of the year, you add everything up and compare it to what it would have cost you to buy the same amount of food in the store. Take that number, subtract the cost of the garden (the amount you paid for plants, fertilizers, etc.), and you have an idea of how much you’re making by gardening.
Last time I did a tally, I learned that my garden made me $600 that year. I’m hoping to top that number in 2013.
There are lots of ways to set up your garden tally. You could use a notebook or a spreadsheet or an online program. My methods are more primitive. I simply attached a sheet of paper to my refrigerator and put a pen on a magnet beside it. Then I wrote out all the vegetables and fruit I’m planting. From now on, when I bring a vegetable in from the garden, I will mark it on the tally.
For some vegetables, like carrots, you can do a straight count. For others that are more difficult to count, like lettuce, you can weigh it on a kitchen scale and keep track in ounces or pounds. Just make sure you keep straight which way you’re doing it.
There are several reasons to keep a garden tally:
1. It’s great to have a number you can point to and say “My garden made me $X this year.” Numbers are important in assessing the success of any project.
2. It shows which vegetables are the most successful. You’ll know which are the bumper crops and which are being difficult, which will help you plan what to try again–and give up on–next year.
3. It shows which vegetables make you the most money. Because you compare your harvest to the cost of the same food in the store, you’ll quickly start to see which crops are making you money. Put more of those in next year!
4. It’s fun to watch the tally grow. As the year goes on, you see more and more marks, straight evidence of your garden’s harvest. That’s a good feeling.
How do you do your garden tally?