Let me give you the background for this post before anything else....
I was musing to myself the other day about "Andy, do you walk the garden walk, or just talk the garden talk?" What I was getting at was: for all my yardly adventures, how much benefit am I really reaping? Am I spending a fortune (admittedly, I came from a very low base before I joined the site) and getting bugga all in return? Am I kidding myself about my urban farmer skills?
So, I thought I would pose an open question as a bit of a game for us all. How much do you really eat what you grow? ... and guessing is not good enough. I aim to answer my own tough question with facts. Feel free to contribute your facts and answer the question for yourselves.
There is only one way to win this game: you need to out-compete yourself. I mean, if my 3 year old garden out-compete's John's 6 month old garden, it just means my garden is more established. My real question to myself is: am I doing better now than I was doing 6 months or a year ago? I might also try to use some real costs from Coles on line shopping.
Go on... take the risk... be honest. I shall lead by example (wish me luck!)
Night 1's dinner: Thai Beef Salad. Four or five different lettuce types and basil supplied by me from the aquaponics bed. Here is the proof (you don't need to do this - I just want to get us started). I should have stuck my hand in the shot - those are cos lettuce leaves on top - they are around 15 - 20 cm in size. This was a big salad. The pic has no purchased add-ins at this stage.
I don't expect to have grown my own beef and stuff. I am just trying to get "real." I think it was a pretty fine effort from 1 month old lettuces and basil on harvest 4 in the same time.
Saving: lettuce $2 + basil $2 = $4.
Night 2 dinner: Stir Fry with garlic chicken sausages.
Produce used: Pak Choi ($3) and Silverbeet ($4! - you kidding me? This stuff grows like crazy). I know, I used shop bought sausages. I'm stock piling my home made ones for the family Christmas BBQ).
Total Saving this week: $11 (hey, that's more than I expected).
Night 3: True confessions.
Photography course was tonight. Produce used: none.
Total Saving this week: $11
Night 4: True confessions part 2.
Produce used: none. Steak and potato and carrot. My carrots are in and I'm about to add some spuds, but don't have any at the moment.
Total Saving this week: $11 (oh, the shame)
Night 5: True confessions part 3.
Produce used: none. Roast pork with pumpkin, potato and carrot.
Total Saving this week: $11 (oh, the continued shame)
Night 6: Redemption.
Used an aquaponic's lettuce (actually, it was half of two).
Total Saving this week: Lettuce: $2 + $11 = $13
Night 7: Stir Fry
Used a load of pak choi.
Total Saving this week: Pak Choi: $3 + $13 = $16
Innit great?! Lissa and Elaine are right - yeah, you probably only saved $5 or something, but I get mega reward for that tiny $5 saving! And my plan is to find out how much per week on average I save now (as the rough measure) If I am a good gardener then the produce will gradually increase - hey I might end up with a $10 night. LOL.
Oh, and I was right about night three. No time to add any produce at all. Left over mince and some bought pumpkin.
Even with our garden in the terrible state that it is right now (honestly shocking!) most meals include something homegrown, if not the staple ingredients.
For instance, most meals include one or more ingredients such as herbs, lemons, limes, chillies, eggs, tomatoes, sweet potato, a type of prolific wild spinach or bhaji (actually I don't really know the common name of this one, it's generally considered a weed and it's D-elicious!) and other greens.
We've had oranges, mandarins and mulberries for the first time this year and have a few mangoes still coming along despite the wind knocking them around a bit early on, as well as a few pumpkin vines popping up here and there.
I do look forward to having some of our old favourites back in the garden though - pawpaw, cassava, okra, bittermelon, eggplant and even pak choy and rocket are sadly missing at the moment and always did us beautifully for a whip up meal from the garden... :(
I don't know about the $$ saving, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing that there's always something "out back" (that saves us getting our reluctant selves over to the shops for at least another day or few!) is well and truly worth it.
Thank you so much for the donations by the way. Your egg plant became a Persian dish which I won't even attempt to write in English. Egg plant stew (with lamb). Beautiful! You know,.. my Rozie ate most of the eggs. Boiled them to have in her salad lunches. Damn!
I'm going to update the main post again soon. I was too rushed by Halloween to have a proper dinner, so it was another fail. And that's what worries me, and part of the reason for the post.
Yes, the convenience factor shouldn't be underestimated, should it? Even spending ten minutes scrabbling around for random edible weeds is much more pleasant than going to the shops!
Just confessed in the original post. Nothing used again tonight. I usually pick up on the weekend though - so let's hope. A valuable lesson for me is that I have lots of salad, but not much vege. I'm going to need to address the imbalance me thinks.
Just spring onions from the garden in my fried rice tonight. And, what's more, I bought a completely unnecessary piel de sapo melon. It gets worse, though, because I bought it from Coles, where I very rarely get fruit and veges from. However, I figured it was the same price as buying the seeds online, so maybe it's not so bad. I'm determined to produce some sort of melon in my garden at some point.
I quite like the skin of a toad melon. I had no luck with my seeds but hope like heck you do mate. That would encourage me to try again. Can't believe they stock them in your Coles!
Well, given that I'm an aspiring economist with an interest in these things, I did give a bit of thought to how they came to be at Coles. The best theory I could come up with is that they are like the achacha fruit which get to Coles as well - there's some huge investment been made in order to make piel de sapo to be the next big thing in Aussie industrial-scale agriculture. Considering the time of year that these melons are being shipped to market, and the fact that they don't have a country of origin (mandatory for overseas produce?), I'd say that they are from one of the big irrigation schemes up north, possibly the Ord River or the Burdekin. Of course that's just the story I've cooked up with no research. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has more info.
Oh, and yes, I planted achacha in my garden as well. I think they might actually be very well suited to direct sowing because of the enormous tap root they produce.
I suspect you're right about "the next big thing." I'd never seen them before this year. It also dawned on me that they would grow pretty darn well in Queensland, given they are south american.
Your melon find interested me. More INFO from Baker Creek Rare Seed. Sounds like it could be a goody to plant in our hot, often dry, weather.
Will keep an eye open for it at my fruit shop. The fellas often get in some of the more interesting fruits and veg.
I'm not so convinced. It seems adapted to a much more Mediterranean climate than ours. For every hot dry day in a Brisbane summer, I think we get two humid ones, whereas in Spain, where this variety originated, they'll go for a month without a cloud and with temperatures over 30 degrees every day. The other bit of evidence is the time of year that they are hitting the shops - towards the end of the dry season in Northern Australia. I'm very happy to put some seed in the post so you can prove me wrong! It's a deliciously sweet melon, so if you can avoid the mildew it's probably well worth growing.
My research did remind me that when I lived in Korea there was a nice little yellow melon you could buy there, but I think it finished ripening before the arrival of the humid weather associated with the monsoon. Interestingly, when you search for "vietnamese melon" or "okinawa melon" in Google, you only get results for bitter melon. There is a little Japanese variety on 4seasonseeds.com.au which looks somewhat promising, but I think I might just hold off until next autumn and grow when the weather is drier.