Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Seed flats... and cost calculations.

I have not been visited by the sprout fairy yet... which i understand is a good thing. If stuff sprouts too early any hard freezes might wipe things out.
But i took some pictures:
This is what i have gotten done so far, the tray on the bottom with no condensation in it is the Mary Washington asparagus i finally got planted.  Just before i was about to plant them i read on the package that they needed soaking...  so i put them in a quart jar full of water.  Then i remembered the cool thing about wintersowing... it bypasses all steps like soaking, knicking, stratifying, cold treating and other time consuming steps. Duh.  But after i started them soaking, i could not find the time to plant them.

 This is where most of  the tomatoes live. I started them in the black plastic meat trays that 2 1/2 pounds of hamburger comes in if you buy it at Walmart.  They are only a little larger in dimension as the cardboard trays i have bought tomato seedlings in at the nursery. They also fit perfectly in the fruit and vegetable bags from the grocery store. The yellow tray is lettuce, Buttercrunch.

This row has two flats of mixed seeds. I have 5 of each planted, 10 different seeds per tray. So, 20 different things in total. They are a tomato or two, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, melons, cucumbers, etc.  The little deli tray on the top is Striped German tomato... very old seed. So old that the company i got them from went out of business more than 5 years ago!  And they tiny white meat tray behind the Striped Germans has 5 peat pellets of Siberia Tomato.

This shelf has the mentioned Mary Washington asparagus and the other tray contains Welsh Onions and  Mirage Shallots

Sixty-five days till planting time! My blog gadget ticker stopped working and when i tried to reinstall it, my computer gave me a virus warning. So i have to count on my paper calender,  but 65 days is how long i have until any hope of planting is advised.

I did some pricing of hoop house materials. I was going to go the metal electircal conduit route for the hoops, but the prices online at Lowe's and Home Depot were showing me that that was going to be way more expensive than i had thought. Most of my sources were saying or implying that the metal would be cheaper in the long run because it was supposedly less expensive per length... but if the online prices are correct, it is not true. Lowes had 1/2" conduit for $1.87 per 10' length. Home Depot had the same online price.  Schedule 40 1/2" PVC in 10' lengths  at Lowe's is $1.13,  Home Depot has it for $1.03.
I also had read at first that the PVC would have to be painted for long term outdoor use, but researching it further, it should hold up for more than 3 years of use without any treatment. It is inherently UV resistant due to its makeup.
So, not only is the PVC cheaper, but it needs no treatment.
The metal conduit might be sturdier, but it is more expensive by too much of a margin, and then i'd have to bend it... a bender for 1/2" conduit is around $38-$45.  Then, since i can't shove the conduit into the ground about 18' without it hanging up or kinking the smooth shape, i'll have to construct anchor pegs- i have seen rebar and dowel pegs used. The rebar is worth a couple dollars each and the dowels need cutting and sharpening even though they are cheap...

Now i do plan to do much of my garden. The corn will be mulched simply with black plastic to heat the soil,  so that part won't need hoops, but the rest i do want to at least start the growing season with them.

*7 rows
*24' per row
*1 hoop per 4' = 7 hoops per row + end hoops
 = 49 hoops (PVC lengths)

*7 rows
*30' of Agribon per row (allowing for extra at the end to close)
*Agribon 6' wide
=  210' Agribon

Whether we use metal or PVC, we still need ground anchors. Hubby and i decided that it would be best to use 3/4 inch PVC lengths about 18" long, sunk 12" deep, leaving 6" sockets for the hoops. Each 10' 3/4 PVC will yield at least 5 anchors.  We will need 98.  So we will need 20  of those.

According to HD, the PVC total before tax will be $79.30
If i go with Vesey's 6' wide Agribon-19 i will need to buy 3, 6'x100' lengths and i'd have 50' to spare, the cost would be with shipping $124.80

About $204.00

If i go with the AG-19 from Johnny's, their 83"x250 is only $45 and about $10 shipping.
And i realized that 6' width won't get me enough edging to anchor it to the ground if i my hoops are up to a 6' span.  I could cut the hoops in half and get 2x as many and have them be shorter but i'd really like the taller hoops and the excess Agribon  on the sides will make a mess if the hoops are too low.

The more i think about it, the lower the cost estimate becomes

My original original estimate with the metal conduit was around $225
Then with PVC replacing the metal it was $204
Now with the wider Agribon from Johnny's, it looks like $135. will do it.

I hope my calculations are correct and that Home Depot will give me the online prices if the store price is different. But, if not, Lowe's will price-match HD and i think the Price Protection policy will apply to PVC.   That is the scary part. Hubby said he saw the 1/2 PVC was around $3 a length when he went there the other day. But the online price is very different:

Now i will need clips to hold the Agribon to the hoops, that should only add a couple more lengths of PVC to the order. The instructions i have seen for making PVC clips is as simple as cutting a 1/4 inch strip out of the entire length of the PVC, then cutting the length into 2" pieces. One 10' length of PVC  should yield about 60 clips. Adding another $2.50 to the total.

So if the prices work out this will be great... if not i will be miffed.

1 comment:

Faith said...

Good investigative shopping report. (thumbs up)

You have the same planting racks we bought last year. We have two. They ended up being too flimsy for all we were asking of them. My dad wired his together to sturdy his up more.

Did you hear, the Temple Institute is saying they have a red heifer now? I am currently listening to the radio program where they announced it, but haven't come to that portion yet to see if it's actually been approved, or if they are still waiting to see.

Rebar is what I have seen used. We always got it for free, as my dad was an ironworker that could get scrap easily.

OK, I did some quick figuring, so your beds are nearly 4 feet wide and your hoops will be nearly 2 feet high?