Time to take stock.
In 2014 I kept a record of everything I spent on my allotment, and tried to estimate the value of the produce I harvested. I weighed everything I brought home and then looked up the corresponding prices in online supermarkets to gauge the value of the crop. This was sometimes difficult – I found it hard to find the going rate for harvests such as broad beans, blackcurrants and french sorrel in major supermarkets, and in some cases had to resort to smaller foodie websites or just make a best guess.
So, the overall figures:
I spent €451.49 and harvested €632.62’s worth of produce, giving a profit of €181.13. Considering that it was a challenging year in many ways – a very hot dry June, a wet dull August, and a lack of time on my side – I’m delighted with this!
The expenses were as follows: €200 on the annual rent, €101.13 on potting compost and a load of manure, €48.47 on seeds, €32.84 on plants (this includes €29.85 on five fruit trees), €6.47 on tools, €12.66 on chemicals such as fertiliser and weedkiller for the paths, €33.97 on pots and seed trays (around €25 of this on pots for the fruit trees) and €15.95 on construction materials such as netting and stakes and string.
As regards successes, my top five most valuable crops were:
- Tomatoes – despite blight wiping out the outdoor plants in August, surprisingly this was the most valuable crop. I harvested 9.2kg of fruit, which worked out at €89.
- Pumpkins – I grew 8kg of Hallowe’en pumpkins, 13.2kg of ‘eating’ pumpkins and 20 or so ornamental gourds. This was the heaviest crop in weight, and I estimated it to be worth €69 overall at an average of €2.85 a kilo.
- Broad Beans – a truly bumper year for broad beans; they just didn’t stop coming and to be honest we all got sick of them! I harvested approximately 11kg of beans which equated to €63 of produce. This is an example of a crop that’s not readily available in the shops in Ireland – you really have to grow your own.
- Early Potatoes – the maincrop got blight, so the earlies were the stars this year, even though they also got a touch of it and were cut back quite early. I dug up 22kg of spuds from a 4m x 1.2m bed. This worked out at €43, and very tasty they were too.
- French Beans – the dwarf beans were really great this year. From two sowings I harvested beans from July to October – a total of 22kg of beans and €31.50 in value.
On the other end of the scale, it was not a good year for pak choi (bolted, repeatedly), whitecurrants (just a handful, tasty though they are), runner beans (possibly too shady a spot), basil (too dull and damp in August), beetroot (sowed too late, some in the ground now but will probably go woody over the winter), sweetcorn (one cob only! fertilisation problems again), cucumbers (got a couple, but not their year), celery (always too dry in my plot) and melons (the plants got choked by chillies and other plants). You win some, you lose some!
So that’s 2014 out of the way, and time to look towards 2015. I undertook the great annual seed inventory yesterday and made note of what I have – in short, I have a lot already. Most packets are already open, but should do fine for one more year. I think I can get away with just buying a few essentials this year to fill gaps, and maybe invest in a large re-stock in 2016.
I have too many of some seeds – some I’ve saved myself and others came with magazines but are surplus or something I won’t bother growing again. So – this is a giveaway! I have one packet each of Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’, Broccoli ‘Green Calabrese’ and French Sorrel ‘Sorrel de Belleville’. I also have an amount of Turkish runner beans, and a pile of saved seeds – Broad Beans, Pot Marigold, French Marigold and Poppy. If anyone would like some freebies, just leave me a comment with your email address and I will get in touch.