The big 500

Some time ago a statement made by the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners caught my eye. Having conducted a fairly lengthy study, they concluded that the average allotment holder grows 1,642lb of produce annually with a net worth of £1,564 if they sold it.

Could it be possible?! Standing in the middle of my tiny plot one wintery Sunday morning I had by doubts.

Just look at all that mud!

 

Further investigation uncovered that the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners deemed a standard allotment size to be 250 square metres or about the size of a doubles tennis court. While an allotment of this size in London seems as rare as a hens tooth, this they estimated to be the perfect size to feed a family of four for twelve months.

Never one to side step a challenge..

So, could my little 80 square meters of land produce the goods? At a quarter of the average size, I only needed to produce £391 of crops and that seemed doable. The game was on!

The geek within

So I like to think I’m fairly creative, a free-spirited people person who lives with a certain amount of organised mess (much to my husbands’ amusement/annoyance!). But I do also like a spreadsheet and believe me, this exercise definitely called for one!

The first thing I had to do was to work out what I planned to spend in 2017:

Item Cost (£)
Allotment rent 32.00
Compost 90.00
Polytunnel 50.00
Polytunnel fixings 30.00
Garden canes 5.00
Water butt 17.00
Irrigation system 25.00
Total: 249.00

You’ll see I’ve listed some fairly hefty costs here but after two hugely inspirational days with Charles Dowding earlier this year we decided to invest in upgrading our growing space and so a polytunnel, irrigation system and 1 tonne of compost was purchased.

Next was to work out how much I needed to spend on seeds and plants:

Like many allotmenteers I sat down with paper and pen earlier this year to plan out what we wanted to grow. Happily I already had some spare seeds from previous years or had saved my own seed. Also, most of our fruit bushes had already been purchased in previous years or given to us so again no outlay there.

I did need to purchase some parsnip seeds as these need to be fresh every year and also the beans, courgettes and carrots to support my Growing a Rainbow experiment. Some  plug plants at the recommendation of Charles were purchased from Delfland Nurseries, and I’d already bought four elephant garlic cloves from the RHS Harvest Festival Show which is a great little show if you get the chance to go.

Item Total cost 2017 (£)
Apples 0.00
Aubergine 8.00
Beans – runner 0.00
Beans – french 2.49
Beetroot 2.29
Blackcurrent 0.00
Blueberry 0.00
Carrots – orange 5.00
Carrots – puple 2.49
Chillies 0.00
Courgette – green 0.00
Courgette – yellow 2.69
Cucumber 0.00
Elephant garlic 3.00
Goosberries 0.00
Indoor cucumber 6.00
Leek 0.00
Lettuce 5.50
Mint 2.00
Onions 3.00
Parsnips 1.99
Potatoes – first early 5.00
Potatoes – main crop 5.00
Pumpkin – mini munch 0.00
Pumpkin – red kuri 0.00
Purple thyme 2.00
Radish 1.99
Raspberries 0.00
Rhubarb 0.00
Spinach – perpetual 2.29
Spring onions 0.00
Strawberry/framberry plants 15.00
Peppers 2.99
Sweetcorn 0.00
Tomatoes 3.99
Winter brassica’s 8.50
Total cost: 91.21

So here’s the really geeky bit!

Tomato

To work out what my crops were worth I decided to weigh each harvest and then work out how much I’d have to spend for the equivalent organic product in my favourite supermarket. My top tip is that most supermarkets now have apps to help you do this! For example if I was to purchase some organic large vine tomatoes today it would cost me 63.5p per 100g so this little lot would cost £8.20.

So did I do it?

Yes is the shortest answer! I’ve harvested £526.26 of crops and amazingly I’m only five months in! I harvested my first radishes on the 14th May and I’ve still got loads more harvest to come.

Now for the small print. If you deduct my total outgoing of 340.21 I’m actually only £186.05 in profit but it doesn’t matter as I’ve still cropped £526.26 of produce!

Here’s my progress to date:

Item End August update (£)
Apples 0.00
Aubergine 4.98
Beans – runner 23.37
Beans – french 52.96
Beetroot 7.85
Blackcurrent 0.00
Blueberry 0.00
Carrots – orange 0.00
Carrots – puple 0.00
Chillies 5.00
Courgette – green 46.49
Courgette – yellow 46.48
Cucumber 89.24
Elephant garlic 8.00
Goosberries 0.00
Leek 0.00
Lettuce 19.87
Mint 0.00
Onions 0.00
Parsnips 0.00
Potatoes – first early 14.00
Potatoes – main crop 0.00
Pumpkin – mini munch 0.00
Pumpkin – red kuri 0.00
Purple tyme 0.00
Raddish 4.25
Raspberries 0.00
Rhubarb 41.44
Spinach – perpetual 15.47
Spring onions 11.49
Strawberry/framberry plants 3.33
Peppers 7.77
Sweetcorn 17.60
Tomatoes 106.67
Winter brassica’s 0.00
Total cost: 526.26

I really didn’t think it possible

I’m truly shocked by the results and cannot wait until next May to find out the final total. I’ll keep you posted and leave you with a few more pics!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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