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
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
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:
Tall tomato cages
Tall bean poles
Tent stakes to secure cages to the ground
Nylon pantyhose to tie tomato stems, etc.
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
Supplies and materials to do the activities on www.KidsGardenClub.org
You may want to design and wear a club T-shirt each
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
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
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