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How Far Can $10 Go? A CNN iReporting Project

We began this little project after seeing a CNN iReporting Weekend Assignment article on April 11, 2010. The assignment was "How far can $10 go?" We submitted our entry, you can see it here.

We saw organic spinach in a little plastic box for 4.99 for 5 ounces on a recent trip to the grocery store's produce department and thought setting up a little garden to grow your own would be an excellent way to spend $10. We headed out to a local garden center to see if we could get everything we needed to start. We were successful. We got a starter tray and cell insert, soil and spinach seeds for $9.47. The garden center gave us a bonus free packet of lettuce seeds!

The spinach seed packet contains 350 seeds. If all of those seeds were to germinate and produced 5 oz each, that adds up to $1746.50 in organic spinach. How about that! All for $10 and a little bit of work. The tray will be around to use for many years.

If we had simply bought seeds with our $10 and skipped the tray and soil, the amount of money we could save/earn would be huge! However, the tray will allow us to grow indoors, to extend the growing season.

Follow the progress of our $10 garden here!
April 11, 2010

This weekend, CNN proposed an assignment, “How far can $10 go?”
Here is the link to the article and to our entry. Our idea was to buy supplies to start a salad garden, something that would return our $10 many times over. We headed over to a local garden center and purchased this. The garden center also offered a free packet of a lettuce mix, a nice bonus!

Tomorrow I’ll plant the seeds in the tray. Check back here to follow our progress in the salad garden. We’re going to keep this crop in a separate garden so we can monitor the amount it produces and how much money we saved/earned. Tomorrow I’ll plant the seeds in the tray.
April 12, 2010

Here we go! I planted half of the tray with spinach, half with lettuce mix.
I have enough soil left to fill the tray for the next planting and enough seeds for 2-3 more trays.
I covered the seed tray with a recycled plastic tortilla bag that I cut open.
I’ll keep the plastic on to prevent the soil from drying out until the seeds germinate.
April 18, 2010

Week 1. We’re on the way to having a Salad Garden! The lettuce performed as expected, sprouted in 2-3 days.
The spinach is starting to show up slowly. Our weather this week is predicted to be mid 60’s and calm, perfect conditions for putting the tray outside during the day to get some sunshine. We’ll bring the tray in at night.
This is the lettuce, a mix of various kinds. They all look the same to me so far.
July 23, 2010

We've been calling this the $10 Salad Garden, it certainly has produced enough to pay back our 10 bucks! While we didn't actually sell any of it, we would have spent a lot to buy this much organic mixed leaf lettuce at $6-7/ pound at the store.
The spinach has been a total failure. The seedlings I transplanted quickly went to bolt, and the few leaves I did pickwere not very good. I have lots of seed left in the packet, I'll plant again when the weather cools. This batch of lettuce is now mostly gone, I'll replant my remaining seeds along with the spinach later. I have enough seed to do 2 more sowings for a patch this size.
The $10 salad garden is circled here. In front of that are some of the other lettuce varieties I grew this spring- Sunset, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red and Black Seeded Simpson.