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Strawberry Economics

It’s spring, and an abnormally warm one at that, so my thoughts are naturally turning to what makes sense to plant in my garden. Part of my mind feels less inclined than usual to spend money on planting in my garden, given the way that the bad economy has diminished my income.

On the other hand, another part of my mind is attracted to the idea that it would be less expensive in the long run for me to plant my own strawberries.

strawberries and dollar signsWhich thought is closer to the truth?

Well, a pound of strawberries is currently selling for $3.00 at Wegmans supermarkets. On the other hand, at Miller Nurseries, I can get 25 strawberry plants for about $10.00. That’s 2.5 strawberry plants per dollar, so for $3.00 I could get 7 strawberry plants (a half a strawberry plant isn’t good for anything).

At Wegmans, I’m paying for instant gratification. I can eat the strawberries right away. Of course, I’d probably have to wash them off before eating them, given that commercially grown strawberries are sprayed with neurotoxins, unless they come from organic farms. Then, after eating the strawberries, I would be right back at the beginning, three dollars lost and nothing but a single snack.

The strawberry plants I put in the ground this year might yield one berry each by the time the season is done, if I’m lucky – probably not close to a pound from that group of seven plants. However, the next year, I might get three or four berries per plant – and one or two new plants growing from each original plant too. That’s at least a pound of berries per year, and more to come from that as the patch grows larger, spreading by runners.

Growing the strawberry plants may require some more patience, but in the long run, it brings me a lot more satisfaction than that three dollar little plastic carton of berries from the supermarket.

In this economy, I think it makes sense to think in terms of what pays off in the long term. A strawberry plant is a terrific investment.

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