Gar­den­ing wrings an ex­tra re­turn from land

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Spring ap­proaches and in our house­hold that means it’s time to start plant­ing the vege gar­den out.

This brings me joy for two rea­sons.

The first is that it means I will spend more time out, pot­ter­ing about, pluck­ing out weeds, ad­mir­ing the bushi­ness of my spinach and en­joy­ing the fresh air.

The sec­ond is that I am wring­ing an ex­tra re­turn out of the lu­di­crously over­val­ued land into which I do my plant­ing.

Be­cause I live in Auck­land, the ground my gar­den is on (if coun­cil land val­u­a­tions are to be be­lieved) is worth the bet­ter part of $1000 a square me­tre.

Any ex­tra re­turn I can squeeze out of it makes me feel bet­ter about that.

In that way I view gar­den­ing a bit like walk­ing or bik­ing to work.

We can’t all do it but if you can then house­hold ex­pen­di­ture falls and health, wealth and hap­pi­ness fol­lows.

I am not blind to the eco­nom­ics of vege- rais­ing. There’s a thought-pro­vok­ing book called the $64 Tomato by a North Amer­i­can au­thor for whom the eco­nom­ics of gar­den­ing didn’t stack up.

My take-home from that is to fo­cus on higher value crops that re­place things you al­ready spend on or pro­vide that which you can’t af­ford or refuse to pay the price for.

On this front some veges are a slam-dunk in my gar­den.

For half the year, I don’t have to buy spinach or sil­ver­beet which is great be­cause leaves should never cost the bet­ter part of $5 a bag.

Thanks to the most pro­duc­tive lemon tree the world has known, I’ll never have to buy a lemon again or run short of home-made lemon­ade.

Rhubarb costs too much in the shops to jus­tify buy­ing it. It grows like a weed in my gar­den. The herbs go like mad, as do the chillis.

Last year, what I didn’t dry in the sun I used or turned into storable sauces which has kicked off some­thing of a sauce and rel­ish­mak­ing fest in my house.

The ac­tual over­all sav­ings once the seedlings are bought and the com­post and wa­ter paid for may be rel­a­tively mod­est in dol­lar terms, though I re­mind my­self that ev­ery $1 paid off the mort­gage or in­vested is well worth do­ing as there is a mul­ti­plier ef­fect there.

Dol­lars saved earn in­ter­est or re­duce debts on which you pay it.

I’m not fool­ing my­self though.

Vege gar­den­ing won’t have the trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect on house­hold fi­nances that the ditch­ing of one of the cars to bike to work is having (one less in­sur­ance bill, reg­is­tra­tion, petrol tank to fill, WOF to pay for, re­pair bill to pay …), at least not with a gar­den as small as mine.

But ev­ery dol­lar not put into the till at Count­down is a vic­tory.

And I also find that be­ing out­side coun­ters con­sumerism, just as when I gave up cig­a­rettes a cou­ple of decades ago, ex­er­cise coun­tered the urge to have a puff. An af­ter­noon spent in the gar­den and not be­ing a ‘‘con­sumer’’ is an af­ter­noon bet­ter spent.

And if you rent, have a chat with the land­lord.

Fruit trees and vege beds cost lit­tle to put in and make a prop­erty more at­trac­tive.

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