Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Am I getting a profit from my allotment?

Now, if I think that I am getting a profit out of my allotment, I really know that I'm being foolish because I do not take into account the amount of time I spend working on the garden.

However, it is good to see how much I would have had to pay if I bought the produce in a supermarket such as Tesco.  All of my harvest is organic so I look for the price for each of the organic vegetables and put that on my spread sheet.

I have had about 15.6kg of strawberries off the five rows.  At Tesco's prices for organic strawberries of £0.83 for 100grams, it means that I have made about £130.  Now when would you go out and buy £130 of strawberries?

This year, over all, I have spent a total of £260 on seeds etc. So the strawberries on their own have covered at least half of my allotment costs and there are still a lot of strawberries on the plants.

On a completely different tack, I have decided to go into the town allotment competition.  You get points for tidiness, crop rotation, succession and composting but the major points are gained from the vegetables themselves.  The only vegetable I am not growing is celery but it is such a faff to get this to grow properly and keep it slug free that I really cannot be bothered to grow it.  I am not going to grow it just for the competition.

I should score quite well for my peas, dwarf French beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broad beans, winter vegetables, runner beans, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, beetroot and parsnips.  I am not too sure how they are assessed because a lot of them will not be their full size until the autumn.

There is a category for soft fruit but my strawberries and blackcurrants have been harvested and either eaten or frozen.  This leaves my raspberries and blackberries.  I could score a little on them.

Another category is flowers.  Well the sweet peas should give me some more points.   So I thought that I would give it a go.  It is good to see how well you are doing in comparison with others.  I am not going to wait with bated breath till I hear the result; I am just going to continue harvesting as usual.

I grow for food, exercise and fresh air.  Nothing else matters much.  But it would still be good to win the competition.  Chance would be a good thing.

The allotment is doing quite well now.

The peas have started to fruit and make pods.  I was a bit worried that I had made their lives very easy and that they were not going to produce any peas at all.  I weeded them a few days ago and now they are looking very neat and tidy.  I have had to put even more string around them because they have significantly over topped the chicken wire.  If the peas flop about they do not seem to produce many pea pods so I like to keep them growing upwards.  The tallest row is now about four feet tall and still growing.

All the dwarf French beans have survived being put out into the allotment.  I watered them with comfrey liquid today just to keep them growing.  The turnip row I put in here is growing on much better than the ones on the brassicae bed.  I don't think that there is as much flea beetle on the pea bed.

Brassicas are growing big.  The broad beans are just coming now.  I will probably pick a few at the weekend.  The Aintree runner beans are nearly to the top of the support canes.  They would have been at the tops but I nipped out the growing tips of the lead stems to encourage side shoots from the bottom of the plants.

The sweet peas are flowering  and producing an incredible scent.  I have some good stems - some with five buds.  I watered these with comfrey liquid today just to keep them growing and producing.

The Webs Wonderful lettuce have hearted up now and I will have to eat them quickly before they go to seed.

The onions and leeks are not growing as fast as I would like them to.  I doubt if they will be very big for the town competition but, hey, you can't have everything.

The sweet corn has decided to grow now and is getting quite big.  So too are the ridge cucumbers. They really need some warmer weather to keep them growing.  I was thinking of putting the cloches over the cucumbers to give them a little more warmth and protection.  I'll do this at the weekend if I do it at all.

The potatoes got a bit battered down by the rain and are only now recovering.  Everyone wants me to dig one up to see what they are like but I don't think I will until they stop flowering.

The raspberries have begun to fruit but I don't know how many will find themselves home. I usually eat all of them at the allotment.  I think the crop this year will be bigger than I would be able to eat so a few might be made into jam.

It seems, from what people say, that my roots will get some points in the town allotment competition.  They are doing all right but nothing particularly special.

I will crop the comfrey and put it into the digester bins at the weekend.  I am seriously running out of comfrey liquid, although I have been making significant amounts of it over the last few months.  I am going to use nettles as well so that I can get maximum amount of nutrients into the mixture.

I got some shredded paper today so I put it onto the compost heap and covered it with a generous layer of grass mowings.  The mowings were hot and steaming.  I hope that they don't set the shredded paper alight.


  1. The concept of profit is quite clear to HMRC. It's the difference between income generated (in money) and outgoings. Even then HMRC assume a business not a "hobby business" i.e. trivial amounts earned as a byproduct of a pastime.

    Unfortunately, those who have never been involved in a business proper don't understand this and treat any benefit as a "profit" from whihc the false assumption is made in the article that you "save" what you don't spend at Tesco. Why not include what you don't "spend" at a gym because the allotment keeps you fit?
    The idea of "not spending" therefore a benefit was scotched many years ago when Schedule D tax was abolished (the tax on notional savings in rent by those who owned their own homes).

    The High Court in England recognised in a judgement that allotment gardeners should in all respects be treated as if they were gardening in their own homes.
    So if allotment gardeners are to be treated as profiting from their tenancies, then home owners should be also.

  2. Hi John
    This is a very interesting comment.

    However, I am using the "profit" from the allotment as a measure of the success of my growing. I am not going to put it on my tax return.

    As you astutely espy, I am not experienced in the ways of profit and loss.

    In any case, there is no way that all the factors for having an allotment could be factored in and I would not want to do that anyway. What I was trying to indicate was that having an allotment was worth while even when looking at it from a personal/family financial point of view.

    If Her Majesty's Revenue collectors (sic) ignore what I gain from the allotment, it can only be described as common sense and I am greatly relieved that HMRC will not be banging on my shed door demanding a lettuce and a couple of beetroot in recompense.