Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Growing your own food and the dollar a day thing

There used to be this British comedy called The Good Life (or The Good Neighbors, depending on when and where you watched it). On his fortieth birthday, Mr. Good tells his wife that he is tired of his job and wants "it", and he quits his job, they turn their nice home into a small farm and do all sorts of things which upsets their very prim and proper neighbors.

Seeing as this was a British comedy and not a documentary or a how-to video, they did a lot of silly stuff, and most of it was all wrong.

Even if on your fortieth birthday you decide that you want to do this sort of thing, you'd probably give it a lot more thought than just the one day, and you probably wouldn't immediately quit the job and start tilling the backyard. You would probably keep the job for another year or so and save up some money (maybe longer depending on the time of year and how much money you want to save up), try your hand at some weekend gardening projects, do some research, visit a farm and see if you actually like being around livestock, etc....

But since this was a comedy, Mr. Good has to both get the idea and start working on it the first day. Doing something sensible like waiting a year and doing research just wouldn't be funny.

So on the second or third episode, they have decided to decline a dinner invitation because they supposedly have their own dinner waiting at home. And they have bragged that it is a completely homegrown dinner, with nothing store bought. But, it is only the second or third episode, so they have been at this for less than a month. They really can't have much of anything growing at that point, much less anything ready to eat. It takes about a month just to grow radishes.

But, after having bragged about going home to eat this dinner that has nothing store bought, they decide that they are going to kill one of the chickens and eat it. That's a very bad idea. Luckily, the chicken is so startled by almost being shot that she lays an egg, and Mr. and Mrs. Good eat their first homegrown dinner by splitting one fried egg.

I don't have any chickens, and I'm unlikely to get any. We had at one time discussed getting chickens or maybe ducks, but we never did that. And I wanted a goat. The husband wanted to keep bees, but I was having none of that. We talked about making a pond to raise some sort of fish. We never did any of it, but we talked about it a lot ten years ago. Now I don't think that I would ever do anything like that. If something happens and you need someone to watch your dog or your cat, that is hard enough. It would be much more difficult to get someone to take in your chickens and ducks and a goat, much less a bunch of bees. So I don't think that I'll ever be doing that.

I was going to do the dollar a day thing again for a bit. Monday I skipped breakfast, not so much to keep things under a dollar, but more because I was too lazy to get up and fix anything. Tuesday I did a bit better and got up to fry an egg. At some point I hope to do this dollar a day thing with stuff from the garden. And then it occurred to me that I already have a few things.

If you've been reading my blog you know that I dug this new garden bed about a month ago, but I have not yet planted it. Not even the radishes. So I don't have anything from that yet.

But I do have asparagus from a couple of years ago that has actually grown enough to eat now. And several weeks ago I bought some kale transplants, which I planted in pots. Some of the kale didn't do well, but two of them are growing just fine.

In this part of Texas, I could be eating all kinds of things from the garden right now if I had just thought to do the work earlier. In fact, if I really worked at it, I could probably have some sort of produce all year. Stuff like broccoli doesn't do that well here in the summer, but it grows in the fall, and even somewhat in the winter as it takes several days of hard freeze to actually kill the plant. So with proper planning, I could have broccoli most of the year, except in the summer, when I would have squash and tomatoes and wouldn't miss not having broccoli.

But I never seem to get around to that.

So how does adding homegrown asparagus and kale to the dollar a day thing work out?

If you read the dollar a day stuff that I did before, you'd see that I spent about fifteen cents a day on some sort of veggie, maybe broccoli or tomatoes, and then ate the veggies with pasta. So really, having the homegrown veggies just saved me about fifteen cents, and the rest of it is about the same.

Having your own asparagus saves you more than fifteen cents, if you were planning to go to the store and buy asparagus if you couldn't just get it for free from the backyard, but you probably wouldn't be buying asparagus if you only had a dollar a day. Sometimes asparagus is three or four dollars a pound, so for what I like to eat with dinner would cost seventy-five cents or a dollar. So that's out. But right now you can get asparagus on sale, sometimes as little as a dollar a pound. So if you look at it that way, I'm saving twenty-five cents a day (or at least every other day, as I don't yet have enough to eat it everyday).

The kale was a disappointment. I don't know if I'm not cooking it right or if I didn't buy the right type of kale or if it is too late in the season for kale. I ate some of it yesterday anyway.

Today, if it doesn't rain and such, I will got out and plant some radish seeds.

1 comment:

Ananda girl said...

Oooh... adding veggies to pasta is a good idea for the dollar a day thing. Or any day for that matter.
Fresh asparagus sounds wonderful too.I have never grown it myself but I have artichokes and they take a few years to get going too. They offer a lot of food and would be a nice addition if you like them.

We are no where near harvesting anything here. This year I am only going to container garden. Our season is too short... except for the artichokes, which are always there.