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Counting the Cost


            Forming a budget is something the organizer can do before deciding whether to start and maintain the garden in the first place, or budgeting can be split up among the students.


            It is eye-opening for students to see that seeds that cost just pennies can produce flowers and vegetables that would cost many dollars if purchased in a store. You can teach the students a lot about cost-effectiveness and productivity . . . but the truth is, gardening is neither free nor cheap, unless you're a champion scrounger and solicitor of freebies.


After you've listed your expected costs for your club, and have come up with a total, you can send a note home with a permission slip to see how many of the items listed below the parents themselves could give or lend to you. That would reduce your cost and underscore for the students how gardening and sharing go hand in hand.


Once you see how much you can get donated, you can set a club membership fee to cover the rest of the costs. Try as hard as you can to keep this nominal so that nobody feels left out.


You can also seek donations, set up a fund-raising project to raise your garden capital, or find one sponsor - however you feel comfortable in financing this project. Remember, gardening is supposed to be an inexpensive hobby.


Also be careful to budget your time. Make sure you can keep up with a garden's demands. A good rule of thumb is that, if your soil is in fairly good shape, a beginner might spend about 15 minutes a day in the first month of the season caring for the garden, and then only about 15 minutes every two or three days throughout the rest of the growing season. Of course, you can spend far more time if you wish, but you can make a nice-looking, productive garden work for you with that small amount of time commitment.


Many youth garden clubs schedule two club meetings a week. For example, you could try a Wednesday evening for an hour, and a Saturday morning for an hour.


Keep it simple and do-able. Then you'll have the most fun!





You can get all kinds of seeds for all kinds of prices; it's fun to ask around and trade seeds, or ask people with bigger gardens to share with you.





Parents, neighbors and friends might let you dig and divide perennials for free.


You can buy seedlings by the flat at most garden stores for a discount, or drive out into the country for lower prices on starts.





You may want to purchase a new watering can, or cut plastic gallon milk jugs into makeshift watering devices.


Hose, sprinkler, watering wand.


You might be able to rig up a rain barrel to save on metered water, in case someone is willing to donate the barrel and a screen top.


Metered water bill must be considered in the costs.





Scrounge or borrow one or more of each, or purchase a quality steel tool if you must:


Garden fork






Steel rake










Garden hose


Tall tomato cages


Tall bean poles


Tent stakes to secure cages to the ground


Nylon pantyhose to tie tomato stems, etc.



Garden beds:


You certainly do not have to construct a framed raised bed. You can remove sod, spade up the soil, throw a few bags of compost on top, and fork it and rake it. Or you can go the more formal, permanent route, and make a raised bed. The advantage of a separate, permanent raised bed is that no one will walk on that soil, so it won't get compacted, and it's easier to work in a garden that is above ground level. But the wood and extra soil do add to your costs.


For each 4' x 12' raised bed:


Lumber: (treated lumber is probably OK, but even though it will rot sooner, your best bet health-wise is raw, untreated lumber) You will need three 12' pieces of 2" x 12" @ about $13 each, and two 8' pieces of 2" x 2" @ about $1.50 each


Screws and tools: 1 lb. of 10d nails (about $10 per box and you'll have a lot left over!) or 1 box of 3" galvanized deck screws (about $6 a box, again, far more than you'll use); saw; hammer or screwdriver and drill; measuring tape


Compost (5 cubic yards): if you can buy in bulk and bring it home in a pickup, you're better off, but by the bag, that would be about 20 bags @ 5.99 per bag


Clean, weed-free straw for walkways: 3 bales @ 6.99 per bale



Other supplies:


Supplies and materials to do the activities on


You may want to design and wear a club T-shirt each session


You may want to purchase a gardening manual or reference book, though this website is intended to cover most of your questions




Seed-starting equipment, if you choose that route, including a grow light


Plant name stakes (optional)


Lumber for a trellis (optional)


Garden tape (if you don't have donated nylon pantyhose)


Insecticide for organic gardens


Sprayer for the insecticide


Fertilizer, such as fish emulsion


Redworms - you can order a pound of baby wrigglers online for about $30 to add to your garden


Extra ingredients to be purchased for recipes using garden produce


Canning jars, canning kettle, labels


Gas and admission fees, if any, for mini field trips


Costs of a party, in case you decide to have a harvest festival!


By Susan Darst Williams • • Planning 03 © 2010





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