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Spending Money Wisely During Times of Crisis

 
gardener
Posts: 609
Location: British Columbia
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Hi Permies,

I'm starting up a market garden this Summer. It was suppose to be in addition to a composting program I run but I suspect the restaurants may no longer wish to pay for my services after the financial blow they have received (I live in a tourist town, it's been interesting).

I think that this whole situation has made me realize just how important permaculture is. I want to pursue my goals x10 more.

However, I do have family to take care of. My Mom, Dad, and Grandmother are all in isolation due to health concerns. The Doctor has told my Grandmother that getting COVID19 is essentially a death sentence at this point. I'm basically their caretaker for the time being (or errand girl, they are all in good shape right now).

I was about to drop some serious $$cash$$ on a perennial order from a nursery to start a food forrest on my property. This nursery is a 4 hour drive away.

Setting up a food forrest is a major goal for me... but it it more of a long term goal? Is being conservative now the right choice or is food for the future more important?

Thanks for your input!
 
steward
Posts: 5531
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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My best guess is that the financial effects of the next few months will be a harder issue to deal with than the health effects. Money to buy trees might come much more easily now than later. Although there are ways to acquire trees that don't take money.  

The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago. The next best time is today. I have never regretted planting a tree, but I have often regretted planting trees several years after a new field became available to me.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3114
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Don't let perfect get in the way of progress.

It sounds like you have 3 concerns:
1) Lose your house and food forest due to 'recession' and little saving in the bank
2) Lose just your house but not your food forest but it is owned outright and you can stay at family house if needed
3) Spend your saving in the bank to get 200 trees at $20/each for $4,000 + biochar/earthworks/etc for $1,000

I think that the 1st concern is not fruit/nut trees but in me being able to grow vegetables, herbs and easy mushrooms like oyster and winecap (it sounds like your market garden will allow you to perfect this). After that would be all of my bulk calories from chickens, fish, egg, honey-bee, and tubers+squash. After that would be 10 hazelnut trees and 10 grapes and a solar dehydrator, again bulk calories for survival. After that I would do hundreds of fruit and nut plant because variety is the spice of life.

All that said, if you have mapped out where you want your fruit trees, you can plant seeds now for cheap. 4 in each hole and cull 3 of the 4, then buy and graft named cultivars on to the tap-root plant. Assuming that you have a 6month cushion in the bank, I don't think that $5k is alot of money to spend given the returns.

 
pollinator
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A growing worry here is that there will not be a tourist season this year. Predictions seem to run that the peak of the virus will be in June. Which would imply that restaurants will still be shut. I run my market garden from a roadside stand, which on the face of it sounds fine but many of my customers are German tourists, if they are not here I will have an issue.

I think you should assume that there will be no composting to be done from restaurants this year, and that there will be no farmers markets either. I would not stress my finances at all this year, but I would say start planting trees, perhaps buy half your planned trees and go from there. an 8 hour drive isn't really that much in the scheme of things.
 
steward
Posts: 9726
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Many restaurants and bars around me are quickly figuring out ways to do curbside pickup and/or delivery.  So I'm guessing they will still generate food scraps.  Whether they're willing to pay to have them removed is another question.

I'm guessing that the demand for local food will rise over the summer so food stands in areas with a population could do really well.  If they're primarily frequented by tourists then I don't know...

How much money do you need to drop?  I think I got most of my plants for under $10 each (mail order).  You could buy the important ones and do some propagation for the remainder.  Or plant seeds as S. suggested and graft later.  A food forest for 4 people doesn't have to be huge but one for a market garden may need to be...
 
Ashley Cottonwood
gardener
Posts: 609
Location: British Columbia
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Well I feel like I can be completely honest so here was my order:

1 Carpathian English Walnut Tree #10 = $150
2 Halls Hardy Almond Tree #10 @ $150 each = $300
1 Cupid Cherry #10 = $120
1 Orange Energy Seaberry #1 = $25
1 Male Seaberry #1 = $20
 2 Babycakes Blackberry 8 in @ $25 each = $50
2 Yezberry Haskap #1 @$25 each = $50
1 Kolomikta Female #1=  $25
1 Issai Kiwi #1 = $25
1 Male Kiwi #1 = $25

Total: $790

Ya. That's a lot of money.  I was thinking I' be able to propagate some of the shrubs and vines and turn around and sell them myself in the future. I like the idea of having nut trees on my property. Cupid Cherry is suppose to be zone 2 hardy.  

I was thinking of doing a CSA this year and doing door step delivery instead of a farmer's market.
 
gardener
Posts: 2579
Location: southern Illinois.
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My wife has diabetes as well as respiratory problems (lung capacity at around 60%).  I have put myself on lock down because I cannot see putting her at risk from my behavior.  Each person comes from a different situation and must make their own decisions.
 
Mike Haasl
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Oh, gotcha, I was imagining bare root plants.  I think haskaps need a pollinator of another haskap variety.
 
steward
Posts: 4277
Location: West Tennessee
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Hi Ashley!

In my opinion, I think it is money well spent, and is an investment in your future.

There is an old proverb and perhaps most of us have heard it but I'll share it anyway: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is today.
 
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I'd suggest doing some short term mixed with the long term. I see you have some berries in there which is good. Can you grow strawberries? You should get a harvest quickly, I plant them at the base of every fruit tree I plant as a ground cover. They are super easy to multiply too.

Raspberries (black, yellow, red) also are easy to tip layer, so start with patches of 4 and in a year or two you can tip layer and have a ton of different raspberries.

I would make sure I spent more of the $700 on short term gains and put in a few long term trees as well. That's been my approach since starting my food forest 4 years ago, I still have alot of fruit and nut trees that haven't produced anything, but we are harvesting all the short term now.
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
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looking at the list I would plant the walnuts if at all possible since they take a long time to produce, even if you are buying grafted ones. I would personally plant anything that takes a long time to establish and get anything quicker at a later date if money is tight.

If you have not ordered seeds and plants for any CSA you are thinking about you need to do so asap, it's getting hard to have anything delivered round here and most plants are already sold out. If you want any help with how much you're going to need to plant I can help with that since I also do veg boxes which are basically the same thing.
 
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those are some pretty expensive trees, me, I have more time than money and try to find inexpensive sources.
I think this year for me anyway having been battling some health issues will try to put in an extensive garden from seeds I already have after seeing all the shortages people are talking about in grocery stores.
is there a university or educational institution in your area that has an ag or forestry program? this in many places is an excellent source for inexpensive trees
 
gardener
Posts: 593
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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Those are fairly pricey trees...

I have no idea if they will still be shipping - but if you haven't looked at it, Whiffletree has better prices on some of the things you list. I had planned to order from them this year, but didn't end up buying a house yet, as I realized the housing market is likely to crash if people lose jobs (already prices are down in my city). I would go with a mixture of short term and long term plants - berries, sour cherries will produce early, and then longer term propositions like apple trees, nut trees.
 
bruce Fine
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may I also suggest that in planting $150 trees, you ought to be pretty darn sure the soil and site is optimal.
 
pollinator
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Location: Victoria BC
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Those seem pretty expensive to me. If time is on your side you might save a lot seeking cuttings and starting from seed.. and while it's slower, it's also fun!
 
Ashley Cottonwood
gardener
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Thank for all of your input!

Yes, I have a decent stock of seed for getting my market garden going. I'll be using two sites, my own garden and land I "rent" that already has already established beds and irrigation. I have a total of 350 ft of bed space, 60 bed ft of greenhouse space, and the 1/4 acre for my chickens to forage. Also I'm getting a piggy! My first ever! I'm partnering with the land owner, who is a serious Permie, to develop her land together.

Catie George wrote:Those are fairly pricey trees...

I have no idea if they will still be shipping - but if you haven't looked at it, Whiffletree has better prices on some of the things you list. I had planned to order from them this year, but didn't end up buying a house yet, as I realized the housing market is likely to crash if people lose jobs (already prices are down in my city). I would go with a mixture of short term and long term plants - berries, sour cherries will produce early, and then longer term propositions like apple trees, nut trees.



Thanks for the resource! Yes they are expensive... but they are less expensive than the nursery that is an hour away from me. I live in sorta-food-dessert. Lots of small ranches and old homesteaders but almost nill for orchards, market gardens, or any annual production. I've never purchased woody perennials before, direct from a nursery. I picked the one I did because it has a similar climate and was worried about shipping live material across country right now.
 
bruce Fine
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I've had 8'+ fruit trees shipped to me bare root from all the way across the country and they grew. if buying from reputable source you will be ok, but it must be done in winter and planted before dormancy ends, best to have site prepared and put in ground as soon as you get them
 
Posts: 74
Location: Southern Utah
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bruce Fine wrote:those are some pretty expensive trees, me, I have more time than money and try to find inexpensive sources.
I think this year for me anyway having been battling some health issues will try to put in an extensive garden from seeds I already have after seeing all the shortages people are talking about in grocery stores.
is there a university or educational institution in your area that has an ag or forestry program? this in many places is an excellent source for inexpensive trees



I think those prices seem high because they are (I believe) potted plants.  The first several are 10 gallon pots, then and 8" diameter pot, then some 1 gallon pots. When I was working in the garden center at Home Depot a couple summers ago the prices for the 10 gallon potted trees were right about the same as what she quoted, which is why the few trees I did buy were at the end of summer when they were 2 for 1 clearance price.

Comparing prices $1.00 Canadian = $0.78 US.  In theory those $150.00 trees would be about $115.00 US, definitely not a bad price compared to Home Depot 18 months ago.

 
Posts: 139
Location: Málaga, Spain
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The OP question looks like the old dilemma of saving some seeds for next year's crop and starve today, or eating them now and starve next year.
Surviving today takes precedence. Tomorrow things might change, but you have to survive today if you want to give tomorrow a chance.

That said, I've found during the lockdowns that it is also important to keep moral up. Depressive people can do stupid things when they have mental breakdowns. So, having something to do, or something to invest on, especially if you have to work on it, might give some purpose to life, helping with the mental issues. This is almost as important as being able to eat today.
 
Posts: 44
Location: Tip of the Mitt, Michigan
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Hi,

Just wondering if you bought your trees yet. If not here is something to think on.

Trees are a long term investment into your health. With the US and Canada both printing money out of thin air the amount of inflation rises. Something that cost 3750.00 last year now costs 4550.00. I should have bought it last year. So the longer you wait the more expensive your trees will become.

Also bare root plants and trees have been sterilized at the roots so it takes a lot more work to get them growing. If you have time and find them for less money, and can put the work and extra bacteria into the soil, go for it.

What would happen if you put an add in the local paper? Looking for small (type) tree, will remove tree and stump for free, (or something like that.)  It's worth a shot. Or maybe something local Within 2hrs. drive on the web also. Craigs list, help wanted, want adds, you never know what might turn up. Talk with people and network if you can.

Hoping you have a very fruitful year
 
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