Welcome to the GRS Garden Project. Every month, my wife and I track how much time and money we spend growing food. This is the report for August 2011. (Here are the results for 2008 and the results for 2009. We rested in 2010.)

August finally felt like summer here in Portland. The entire month was sunny and warm, and there was very little rain. The garden rewarded us with productivity. Our harvest in August wasn’t huge, but we expect to pick a lot of fruits and vegetables in September.

Bean Harvest
A harvest of beans

Still, we did begin to harvest many favorites, including nearly four kilograms (or nine pounds) of green beans! Our harvest for August included:

  • Zucchini: 29 at $0.50 each = $14.50 (plus nearly as many donated to friends)
  • Tomatoes: 9.01lbs (4.090kg) at $1.99/lb = $17.93
  • Green beans: 8.68lbs (3.959kg) at $0.99/lb = $8.59
  • Peas: 2.88lbs (1.309kg) at $1.69/lb = $4.87
  • Cucumbers: 22.25lbs (10.102kg) at $1.49/lb = $33.15
  • Yellow onions: 2.52lbs (1.144kg) at $0.99/lb = $2.49
  • Jalapeño peppers: 14 at $0.50 each = $2.80
  • Elderberries: 3.52lbs (1.599kg) at $2.99 per pint = $16.45
  • Blackberries: 2.60lbs (1.182kg) at $1.99 per pint = $5.97

That’s a total of $89.45 worth of food harvested from our yard, and that doesn’t include the stuff we gave to others or that we harvested from elsewhere.

For instance, Kris and her friends picked apples at the house next door. We ended up with about 50 pounds of fruit, enough to can three gallons of juice and four pints of apple butter. Plus, Kris picked enough roadside blackberries to make two batches of jam. Yum!

Speaking of canning, Kris has been hard at work storing up the food from our yard (and from the local produce stand). She’s canned zucchini bread-and-butter pickles, dill pickles, ginger pickled beans, and a variety of jams. She entered some of last year’s goods in the county fair, and came away with prizes for her plum jam, bread-and-butter pickles, and pickled carrots. Plus, her sour cherry jam won a special award. (It’s just that good!)

Canned Goods
The products of a single canning session

We’re looking forward to a big harvest in September. The forecast is for hot, clear days, which should keep our garden producing. Our fruit trees are laden with apples, plums, and pears, and there are still blackberries to be picked. Plus, by the end of the month (or perhaps early in October), we’ll start to harvest grapes.

It’s a wonderful time of year to be a gardener.

This month, the cats weeds got out of control. As you’ll recall, we used to have four cats weeds but one died last February. We were doing fine with three, but when my mother had to move out of her home, we adopted her two cats weeds, giving us five. That’s a lot of weeds.

To make things more interesting, if you follow my personal blog, you know that we’re dealing with a new weed over the past ten days. A rabbit appeared in our yard one morning and adopted us (and our cats) as his own.

Silver and His Rabbit Friend
Two new weeds in our garden: Silver and Blackberry

Nobody in the neighborhood claims this rabbit weed, nor have our attempts to find his owners on-line come to fruition, so Blackberry (as we call him) is living on our property for now. He’s a cute little sucker, as this video demonstrates:

That’s enough weeds for now, though. We don’t have room for any others!

Yearly Totals
We had no expenses during August, and we worked very little in the garden. Our only time was spent harvesting. Here are this year’s totals through the end of the month. (Note that I’m using a Google spreadsheet to keep track of this data. Posting a screenshot of this is much easier than updating an HTML table by hand.)

Our Garden Costs (through August 2011)

Share your progress! I’d love to hear about other people’s gardens. Especially if this is your first time growing your own food, please chime in with what you’re doing and what you’re learning.

Final word
This garden project is not a formal experiment. Kris and I are long-time hobby gardeners, and we have set ways that we do things. This year, we’re trying to incorporate some new ideas from GRS readers, but most of the time we’ll do things the way we have for more than 15 years.

We’re not trying to be 100% organic (though we are mostly organic through our normal practices). Nor are we trying to be 100% frugal. Instead, we’re trying to see just what our garden costs and produces based on our normal habits. We hope the results of this experiment will help us find new ways to economize and to improve our crops.

You can read about my goals for this series in The year-long GRS project: How much does a garden really save?

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