Economic Multipliers (41)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Note taking when you’re gardening or doing any type of project is a tool for evaluating your ability to create economic multipliers.


One of the things that always impressed me about the men and women who founded the United States and the individuals who made some of the greatest scientific and enduring discoveries of all time was that they were copious note takers.

My note taking tends to be as haphazard as my gardening but I am getting better (mainly because I thought it important to put up some pages related to food production).


As of July 30, 2011, I have produced 9.3 oz. of fully ripe cherry tomatoes (well, they came out orange but taste good), one 10” zucchini (I forgot to weigh it but I’ll estimate later based on an equivalent sized one) and a few edible radishes.

Real gardeners will laugh at this ‘yield’ but I have now exceeded all my previous attempts at each of these (I believe I planted tomatoes 3 times before … but was never committed to the process).

Gardening is much like studying for a test: Even if you do it haphazardly or hardly pay attention at all, you still want to get an A. In gardening (or farming), even the best prepared person (that A student with incredible study habits) can’t anticipate ALL the questions or variables: weather, bugs, unusual problems with the soil or water supply, germination rates of the seeds, etc.

But, the PREPARED student almost always comes out ahead.

I’m calling myself the ‘haphazard gardener’ (OPEN) mainly because although I know a LOT of ‘stuff’ about what you should do, I did very little homework and studying beforehand. I didn’t even read ALL of the directions on the seed packages (and ignored quite a few for some ‘tests’).

My gardening neighbors who think about how they will keep their soil ‘renewed’ at least 9 months before they plant again, who know when they should start their starter plants indoors and how many times they’ll be able to plant things like lettuce over the course of the summer, who know how much they need to water, who know how everything will be used and stored and how many plants they’ll need if they want certain yields, etc. are going to have much greater harvests on average than I will (on a per plant basis).

But when you START doing something (like gardening), the trick is to make sure you’re working from a good base and not get too overwhelmed (by the failures OR the successes).

Taking notes helps.

My goal (and it’s a simple one) is to see if I can recoup the approximately $100 I spent on the hooks, tomato planters, soil, plants, seeds, etc. Know that I started with tools (needed few), buckets, watering cans, some leftover cow manure and liquid fertilizer, peat pots (see P.S.) that were sitting in a shed, available land, lots of salvaged tomato cages (plant supports) and numerous other items that I had salvaged over the years (if it looks ‘tooly’ or ‘projecty,’ you just never can tell).

I plan to use $1.50 per pound (for the tomatoes, squash and cucumbers) as the ‘base’ for recouping my monetary investment.

A true economic analysis would account for:

    • the cost of water and materials,

    • the cost of equipment and the time to maintain it,

    • the value of the land (in that it could be used for other things),

    • the time to plan the crops and prepare the soil and

    • the time to plant, water, weed, fertilize (if necessary), harvest and store the crops.

Since your time has economic value and you could always ‘spend’ it elsewhere, you should never consider the time you spend to be free (even when you’re doing something that you enjoy which is intended to create economic value for you or others (the volunteer component of life)).

Whether I’ll recoup my monetary investment for this project (based on ‘a bit low’ produce prices) is yet to be seen but it looks hopeful. If I had to account for the monetary value of my time when I consider just the task of watering the plants, I’d be way behind. If I had to pay ‘rent’ for the land or equipment, I’d be even further behind.

My small harvest will be the equivalent of approximately 10-20 unbalanced meals for one person (if I’m lucky). I’d have to do a LOT more planning (and planting) if I wanted to feed a family for a year.

Not so long ago in the United States (within the last 100 years), the generations that went before not only knew what it took to feed their families but they planted the food to do so (and the wealthiest and the most educated took notes and told us HOW they did it).

The Internet today is the replacement for their notebooks. If we don’t ever want to have to deal with food shortages in the future, we just need to make sure that ‘the notes’ regarding how to ‘build soil’ and how to ‘get gardens to grow’ are there.

Instead of saying: ‘If you build it, they will come,’ I think the Internet today is more about: ‘If they come, they will know how to build it.'


P.S. If I were to use peat pots again (the starter plants started very well in them), I would make sure I opened up the sides (by cutting down the corners) before planting. Most people today use plastic containers (and take the starter plants out) but any container will do. If you know a bit of origami … the art of folding paper … (or even how to line a container), paper bags or a few layers of newspaper can be used to create a container … a paper pot that can be ‘plopped’ right into the ground. (Note: Inks on the paper should be biodegradable.)