Well, I can finally say I definitely broke the $1,000 mark for produce. The estimates below are courtesy of Marie, who was instructed to be conservative and use prices you'd find at Kroger for in-season produce. The figures, in other words, don't take into account that I grow only non-GMO, organic produce (which is far more expensive) and that a small part of the produce is grown out of season. Here are the 2016 results (with more greens still coming):
Cherry tomatoes: $300
Lettuce, Spinach, Kale: $250
Winter Squash: $50
Southern greens: $20
Assorted greens: $5
I probably bought about $500 worth of seeds, soil amendments, and gardening tools, so my "net" for the year is probably around $700, which isn't much, but it's enough. I could, whenever necessary, pull back on all expenditures and plant with zero money spent (given my stock of seeds, fertilizers, soil, and equipment), which was the goal all along when I started gardening in 2009. At this point, I'm just glad to be producing healthy produce for my family and, quite frankly, I enjoy the hobby.
With my ongoing greens, stash of winter squash, frozen currants and greens, and my sprouting operation that I use in January, February and March, I'm also providing non-gmo produce year round, which was also one of my original goals.
So, overall, I'm happy with this job that pays less than minimum wage.