First the Pope, now, a 15,500 page document?
The State Department environmental review of Keystone XL debuted quietly on Twitter last week with this tweet:
— KXLFiles (@KXLFiles) May 16, 2013
So far, the Twitter account has been jumping on the pro-pipeline hashtag #TimeToBuild bandwagon -- joining senators, representatives, and the Energy and Commerce Committee in pushing for approval of the pipeline.
— KXLFiles (@KXLFiles) May 20, 2013
Oh, and there is also a Lowe's promotional tweet reminding you summer is coming soon.
The account has a scant 102 followers, so there's a ways until it is anywhere near the Pope, or even the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has over 11,000 followers.
No one has yet claimed authorship of the account. However, this #FollowFriday tweet might showcase a suspect.
— Energy and Commerce (@HouseCommerce) May 17, 2013
The pipeline itself would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The report the Twitter account is based on says that Canadian oil, dirty as it is, will be developed no matter what.
Shareholders have voted to allow Jamie Dimon to maintain his role as chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. After a year in which management mistakes led to the bank losing a fortune on bad bets in the market, there was a proposal to divide up the roles of CEO and Chairman of the Board. Mike Mayo, banking analyst with CLSA, has been asking hard questions in public about how JPMorgan is run. He joined Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio prior to today's shareholder meeting to discuss.
Stock markets are up in the U.S., but how many Americans actually stand to benefit? Take our quiz to find out.
Judgement for JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon has come at the bank's annual shareholder's meeting in Tampa, Florida this morning. Shareholders have voted to allow Dimon to maintain his role as chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.
After a year in which management mistakes led to the bank losing a fortune on bad bets in the market, there was a proposal to divide up the roles of CEO and Chairman of the Board.
Mike Mayo, banking analyst with CLSA, has been asking hard questions in public about how JPMorgan is run. He joined Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio prior to today's shareholder meeting to discuss.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. holds its annual meeting of shareholders today, in Tampa, Florida. Jamie Dimon heads the company -- he is its chairman and CEO. Some investors say those two roles should be separate, especially since JPMorgan suffered a trading loss now valued at $6.2 billion. But shareholders have voted this morning to maintain Dimon's role as both CEO and chairman of the bank.
Many analysts give Dimon a lot of credit for steering JPMorgan through the financial crisis to record profitability. Chris Wheeler, with Mediobanca, attributes Dimon’s success to his outsize personality and his autonomy.
“It does mean that he can really execute strategy in a fairly robust fashion,” Wheeler says.
Dimon, the CEO, has been able to make changes without worrying about having to get buy-in from another chairman. In other words, he is his own yes man.
Analyst Gerard Cassidy, with RBC Capital Markets, thinks the company wouldn't change much if these two roles were separated.
“I think that, at the ground level, the changes would not be that noticeable,” he says.
But it would be a slap in the face to Dimon, which is something Chris Wheeler says would be disruptive -- at least early on.
“The question is whether it is better for U.S. corporate governance longer term than it is disruptive in the short-term," Wheeler poses.
Wheeler says it could change things in the industry. Right now, only three of the top 20 banks have separate roles for chairmen and CEO's.
This final note today, which -- and there's no other way to say it -- started off as simply a tragedy.
World Nutella Day was called off, not for lack of trying by fans of the chocolatey hazelnut goodness. It was sheer corporate spite. Or product protection, take your pick.
Sara Rosso, an American living in Italy, started the observance of all things Nutella six years ago. February 5 was the designated day.
Last week, she got a cease and desist order from the Italian firm Ferrero -- maker of said Nutella.
Today, breaking news, the spreadable treat will fully be celebrated. A statement was sent to Bloomberg Businessweek, claiming Ferrero will let the day live on.
“The case arose from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page. Ferrero is pleased to announce that today, after contacting Sara Rosso and finding together the appropriate solutions, it immediately stopped the previous action,” the company stated.
What percentage of Americans own stock?
Scroll down to see the answer and click on the audio player above to hear more about how Americans participate in the markets.
Answer: A. 47 percent of Americans own stock, with the wealthiest 10 percent owning 81 percent of all stock assets.
The Chinese military has resumed hacking government agencies and American companies after a three-month hiatus, according to private security firm Mandiant.
The news comes as “spear phishing”, a form of targeted hacking, is drawing a lot of attention. An organization calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army has used the tactic to attack several media organizations, most recently the Financial Times.
"When somebody singles you out as an individual to target with an attack, we call it 'spear phishing'," says Chester Wisniewski with the cyber security firm Sophos. "They find some way of convincing you that they are the target brand and get you to type in your password and give it to them."
Wisniewski says the best way to avoid getting spear-phished is not go to any password-protected websites from a link recieved via email. Instead, users should access social media and banking websites directly via a browser.
One World Trade Center, which is popularly known as the Freedom Tower, has more than two million square feet of office space to fill on 104 floors. John Lyons is working to rent space above all that.
“Yes, all of the FM and TV in the market we can accommodate,” says Lyons, director of broadcast communications at a real estate firm called Durst Organization.
His aim is to cover the newly installed spire with broadcast antennas, like the north tower of the old World Trade Center had. The financial stakes are high, and it’s a more competitive market, as he can see from the window of his office, 740-feet above Midtown Manhattan.
“Empire State Building, One World Trade Center and 4 Times Square right from here, within my peripheral vision,” he says, pointing out the antenna-topped skyscrapers.
After 9/11, many broadcasters crowded onto the tower of the Empire State Building, bringing a windfall of $16 million in 2010, the last full year for which figures are publicly available. 4 Times Square tripled the height of its rooftop tower to fit even more antennas. That means now broadcasters don't have to rely on just one site, as many did in 2001.
“That was ‘all eggs in one basket’ at the time,” Lyons says of the old days. “You had one facility. TV was mostly at the World Trade Center and the FM was at the Empire State Building, and they didn’t have a back-up facility.”
Jazz radio station WBGO felt it couldn't afford one.
“We were a typical urban public radio station that was you know trying to get enough money to just keep our program service alive,” says CEO Cephas Bowles. The station has since opted for a second site.
Lyons is trying to capitalize on this new demand for two antennas. He says stations could have any combination of primary and secondary towers distributed among One World Trade Center and 4 Times Square, whose antenna towers are managed by Durst, and the Empire State Building. More choice means better signal coverage, not to mention better deals.
“I want to say prices probably go down,” Lyons says. "The broadcasters have a chance to negotiate better because they have more facilities to go into.”
At the newest skyscraper, One World Trade Center, Lyons hopes to lock in antenna leases worth $10 million a year.
Sales of video game consoles have been falling for the past few years, as more consumers download games on their smartphones and tablets. Microsoft's Xbox 360 is the best-selling console in the country, but sales last month fell 45 percent from a year ago. In hopes of turning that around, the company is unveiling a new Xbox today.
It's been eight years since the 360 came out, and back then the big news was how great the games looked. This time around, look for Microsoft to play up pretty much everything else.
"This next Xbox will work very closely with your smartphone to expand your gaming experiences in ways you haven't seen before," says Dan Hsu, editor-in-chief of GamesBeat.com.
Hsu is expecting the new Xbox to have a better 3-D motion-detecting camera built in so people can use the system hands free, and he says it will have some exclusive games, to get an edge over rivals Sony and Nintendo.
But to compete with smartphones and tablets, Microsoft will also have to keep you at your console.
"The more of your friends that are online, connected and playing with you, the less likely you are to switch systems, or head off in search of other forms of entertainment," says Scott Steinberg, head of the consulting firm TechSavvy.
There's no word yet on how much the new Xbox will cost. You can still get the 360 for about $300.
Apple will be in the hot seat on Capitol Hill this morning. Company CEO Tim Cook is expected to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Investigation about how the tech giant dodges taxes on its corporate earnings. It's common among multinational companies, but it's a practice that's coming under close scrutiny.
There are lots of ways companies can avoid paying taxes to the IRS on profits. Apple is pretty familiar with those. So the company is going under the microscope today. Why Apple?
"They're one of the companies with the largest amount of overseas cash given the success of the iPhone," says Michael Knoll, co-director at the center for Tax Law and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Apple has $102 billion in offshore accounts. Experts say the company keeps a growing portion of its profits abroad where tax rates are much lower.
While not commenting on Apple specifically, Robert Pozen, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution says the general strategy of keeping foreign earnings abroad is perfectly legal, though arcane.
"There is a consensus that the current system does not make much sense," Pozen says, "because we're not raising a lot of revenue, and we're keeping lots of money from coming to the U.S."
Apple argues that it already gave more than $6 billion to Uncle Sam last year. And the worry is more taxes would put it at a disadvantage with competitors like Samsung.
Audio Extra: Marketplace's London Bureau Chief Stephen Beard explains Apple's taxes abroad.
If there were a weekly competition for attention in the tech world, New York City would be a clear winner this week. Members of the city's tech scene are still celebrating the announcement that Yahoo will buy the New York City-based blogging service Tumblr.
Andrew Rasiej, chairman of NY Tech Meetup, says the $1.1 billion purchase has a lot of people in the city's start-up community feeling vindicated that Tumblr chose New York as its home, as opposed to Silicon Valley.
"Any city that has high-quality human capital is able to take advantage of technology in new ways," Rasiej says. "Frankly, New York has the highest concentration of human capital in the world."
"[It] shows the momentum of tech growth in New York City, especially with younger demographics and mobile," Haot says. "This is happening in a platform that was grown and cultivated here in New York City."
It’s a nice moment in the sun. But the so-called Silicon Alley still has a long way to go before it commands the kind of cash that Silicon Valley does.
Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief of CNET reviews, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss the latest in gadget news.
Did you see the video of the meteor hitting the Moon on Friday? The meteor that NASA thinks weighed less than 100 pounds and was travelling at 56,000 miles per hour? You can check out a video of the event and the big explosion -- which could reportedly be seen with the naked eye.
Things crashing into the moon -- you know, that's how the third Transformers movie starts right? At least that's how the preview starts. Sorry Michael Bay, when it comes to explosions, we'd rather watch the NASA source footage.Video of ScienceCasts: Bright Explosion on the Moon
In a day of big tech news, it can be difficult sometimes to pull back from the touchscreens and keypads to focus on something more tactile.
Something like paper.
Or paper notebooks. The distinctive black-bound ones made by Moleskine to be exact. You wouldn’t think they’d do well against an iPad. But you’d be wrong. The Moleskine notebook has history on its side.
“The product and the Moleskine story really go way back, toward the end of the 1800s to the beginning of the 1900s. A group of artists and literati, mostly based in Paris, started using this notebooks,” says Arrigo Berni, the company’s CEO. “But the product then disappeared toward the second half of the 1900s, around 1980.”
Moleskine notebooks, in their current iteration, are made by a company formed in the mid-'90s in Italy. The company launched their IPO earlier this year, on April 3. But unlike the Apples and the Facebooks of the world, the company chose to debut on the Italian stock market, despite the country’s troubled economy.
“As an Italian citizen, on a personal level, I am worried. As the head of a global company that kind of happens to be based in Italy, I’m taking a more global view,” he says. Italy accounts for less than 10 percent of the company’s sales.
Berni attributes the company’s success to the very thing some could see as a disadvantage.
“There are certain dimensions of our life where digital technology is definitely providing a benefit, an advantage, to us," he says, "but there are other dimensions, maybe closer to what human beings are and the physical experience of interacting with physical products. The emotional dimension ‘where technology is at a disadvantage in fact, compared to paper.”
Arrigo Berni on how to pronounce "Moleskine"
“We want people to feel free to say the name the way they want. Having said that, “moleskin” as a word is originally an English word. So the English pronunciation is ‘Mole-skin.’ But then you know, it was moved to France and over there, an ‘e’ was added and the French pronunciation is ‘mol-ey-skine.’”
There wasn’t a hint of the trouble JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon now faces when he addressed Harvard Business School graduates in the summer of 2009. This was Dimon at his very height, a banker who had steered his firm away from the perils of the financial storm that wrecked the competition. He was a star Harvard MBA grad returning as Crimson conquering hero.
“I wanna do a great job for this company,” Dimon told students and their families, smacking the podium as he spoke. “I bleed JPMorgan blood.”
The bleeding, of course, came later, most famously in the form of the $6.2 billion loss by a trader known as the London Whale. Regulators have been bearing down on other JPMorgan businesses, including a federal investigation into the bank's energy trading.
This turn of events has built momentum for the greatest test of Dimon's leadership. Tuesday, shareholders weigh in on a non-binding proposal to remove him as chairman. Under fire is a bit of an unusual place for the 57-year-old CEO. Comprehending how he lost his post-crisis glow essentially requires understanding two things: risk and power.
Dimon's rise began in 1982. Fresh out of Harvard Business School, he had several offers from top Wall Street firms. He turned them down, making the surprising choice to join American Express and work for Sandy Weill, even though the Goldman Sachs job would have paid far more. Weill offered a whole different kind of possibility.
“The opportunity with Sandy was to actually build something,” says Duff McDonald, author of the Dimon biography “Last Man Standing.” “He saw a mentor who he loved working with, who said, ‘Stick with me kid and we’ll go places.’ And they did.”
Working for Weill was an uncertain path, a risk for a shot at power. They weren’t at AmEx long, moving on to gobble up companies to build what’s now Citigroup, a megabank that inspired the phrase "too big to fail."
By 1998, though, Dimon fell out with Weill and was fired. Bankers still talk about why the breakup happened, analyzing it the way tabloids pour over Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. But basically, Dimon wanted more power.
“If you want Dimon as CEO, you have to give him some freedom to run the ship the way he sees fit,” says Morningstar bank analyst Jim Sinegal.
Dimon waited a year and a half to find a ship that offered that power. He became CEO at Chicago’s Bank One and did well enough to gain the notice of JPMorgan, which bought his bank in 2004. Dimon rose to become JPMorgan’s CEO the next year, and also its chairman the year after.
Fast-forward to the financial crisis. Many top bank execs knew nothing of the exotic gambling their people were doing. But Dimon dug into details and grilled his execs.
“Oftentimes, Dimon will know more about the risks and what’s going on in their area of the firm then they do,” Sinegal explains.
Dimon’s skilled risk management increased his power as JPMorgan swallowed up failed banks Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual at cut rates. Dimon’s image was glimmering. His name was floated as a possible successor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
But the glow didn’t last. If Dimon had a time travel fantasy, it would be something like "Star Trek 4," when Captain Kirk and crew visit the past to save the universe. They were looking for whales.
But there was no chance to reverse the mistakes of the London Whale. Dimon had failed at his greatest strength, managing risk. He also drew fire for publicly fighting new banking rules. Critics pounced.
“It looks like JPMorgan Chase has become too big, too complex, too opaque, even for Jamie Dimon to manage,” says Simon Johnson, the former International Monetary Fund chief economist, now at the Peterson Institute.
Notice that critics don’t deny Dimon's superior management skills. Supporters, and there are many, point out the bank has racked up record profits.
Dimon is unapologetic lately, and has reportedly threatened to leave the company entirely if shareholders vote to strip him of the chairmanship. Observers predict a sudden loss of Dimon’s leadership would hurt JPMorgan’s share price.
“The market value would decline by $20 billion, a little more than 10 percent stock decline,” says CLSA bank analyst Mike Mayo.
At that energetic speech to Harvard business students, Dimon slowed down at the end and mused about how he wanted to be remembered.
“I hope people say, ‘We’re gonna miss the SOB, and the world is a better place for him having been here,’” Dimon concluded.
He will certainly be remembered, because taking and managing risk brought him great power. In Tuesday’s vote, the risk is losing power.
Yahoo paid over a billion dollars to acquire the micro-blogging site Tumblr. The social platform has more than 100 million users -- most of them young and, well, cool.
When did being “cool” become essential to success in tech?
“I’ve been studying tech for a long time, and it’s kind amazing to get calls asking, ‘What’s cool?’” said Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School.
Mollick says for most of his career, it’s just not a question anybody asked. But with ads being the main way tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter make money, he says "advertising is about reaching the right set of people, reaching the influencers and so that’s when cool matters.”
And that brings us to Tumblr. Its audience is young, creative, likes to share and is mobile. Yahoo could use some of that.
Brian Morrissey, an editor of the marketing site Digiday, gets why Yahoo is throwing money at the problem. “But history is replete in the Internet with companies being acquired and then quickly losing that special something.”
And for that, you don’t have to look any further than Yahoo. During the last boom, it bought the website platform Geocities for more than $3 billion in stock. And more recently, it bought the popular photo-sharing site Flickr.
And it neglected them both, said Robert Hendershott, a professor at Santa Clara University.
“The real question is can you buy something that’s cool and avoid making it not cool?” said Hendershott.
Here's Stacey Vanek Smith on the steps to making Tumblr a moneymaker.
Everyone seems to agree that Tumblr is cool, but cool doesn't pay shareholder dividends. For that, you need actual money. And Tumblr isn't making any. Last year, the company lost money after its ad sales brought in just $13 million.
So how is Yahoo going to wring a profit out of $1.1 billion worth of photo blogs? Very, very slowly, predicts Allan Weiner, a tech industry researcher with Gartner.
"I don’t think the companies in this space think, 'How am I going to get my money back over X number of years?'' he says. "Because, if that were the case, I think we would be looking well into the next century."
Still, Tumblr gives Yahoo crucial advertising possibilities that it didn’t have before, says Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a tech consulting firm. He says Tumblr automatically makes Yahoo a big player in the worlds of social media and mobile, two areas whee it had been missing in action.
"This was the cost of entry and, therefore, it was probably worth it for them," Bajarin says.
Tumblr is the third-largest social network in the U.S., behind Facebook and Twitter, says Ken Wilbur, a professor of marketing at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.
"Look, if I was Tumblr’s founder, I would be very happy with a billion-dollar valuation," he says. "That said, it’s one of the few credible, possible alternatives to Facebook right now."
Just like Facebook, Tumblr gives Yahoo an attractive place to put ads and gather information on users.
"Two of the things Yahoo is really good at are personalizing media for individual consumers and targeting ads," says Wilbur. "If Yahoo manages this in a smart way, it really might work."
But, he adds, Tumblr users not being bombarded with ads, and if Yahoo puts too many ads too fast, or the wrong kinds of ads on Tumblr, it could alienate the users it paid so much money to acquire.
In other words, to make money on Tumblr, Yahoo will have to make sure Tumblr stays cool.
Remember that Dove video we wrote about a few weeks ago?
It aimed to show women that their self perception was probably a little harsh, using a forensic artist.
Today, Dove announced that the video had become the most watched ad ever. In a press release, Dove says the video has been watched over 114 million times and viewed in over 110 countries.
"The campaign evoked an emotional reaction in millions of people that inspired them to share the positive message with others. Beyond just the millions of views and publicity impressions, it is the outpouring of testimonials from around the world that are exciting us," says Fernando Machado, vice president of Dove Skin.
Whether that will change Dove's rating on the markets has yet to be seen. At the very least, it didn't compel reporter Nancy Marshall Genzer to change anything.
Will this make me use Dove soap? No. But it’s nice that they’re trying to break away from typical beauty product marketing campaigns, which are usually designed to make women feel bad about themselves, so they reach for products advertised as solutions to their supposed beauty problems.
This week, if you just happen to be in Vegas, you can grab a show. And it’ll be a typically spectacular show if you go to the Mandalay Bay Casino, which is previewing Cirque du Soleil’s new Michael Jackson retrospective-extravaganza starting May 23.
The show is called "One," and it’s actually the second acrobatic-dancers-flying-through-the-air-with-the-greatest-of-ease spectacle from Cirque based on the late King of Pop’s music. Cirque’s first Michael Jackson-themed show, called ‘Immortal,’ is raking in the dough -- and touring the world -- right now. This new show, by contrast, will open and stay in Vegas, just like everything else that happens there is supposed to.
Michael Jackson, who died in 2009 of a prescription-drug overdose, makes more in death than any living artist today makes, according to Forbes magazine. His family’s estate takes in approximately $145 million per year from iTunes song and album sales; merchandising; films; and these incredibly successful Cirque du Soleil shows (tickets start around $69 apiece and go up to the mid-hundreds).
Media analyst Jack Myers says Jackson was having trouble even getting on stage in his last years. But absent the troubled artist late in life, his music is perfect for this kind of show.
“He defines the pop era,” says Myers. “And unlike the Beatles or Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson not only had the music, but he had the dance, he had the moves.”
Those moves translate perfectly into Cirque’s characteristic choreography, with dancer-acrobats soaring over the audience to the contagious beats of ‘Stranger in Moscow,’ ‘Smooth Criminal’ and other Number 1 hits. The music is not live, but instead recorded versions of Jackson’s songs from master recordings, mostly from the era of ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad,’ says Jeff Lovari, Cirque’s publicist in Las Vegas.
That was the 1980s, when the adult Michael Jackson -- as a solo artist -- was on top. But later his reputation was tainted by allegations of pedophilia, drug use, and lavish living at Neverland.
That doesn’t devalue Jackson and his brand now, says Myers -- quite the contrary.
“The controversy of his life keeps the tabloid media happy, the social media,” says Myers. “And I think you have an incredible combination for a career that will continue to grow.”
Meaning, Jackson’s popularity continues to grow, even as his aging fans grow old, says Jonathan Taplin, director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab.
“The market for nostalgia, especially of dead ‘70s celebrities, is pretty strong,” Taplin says. "Look at the number of Elvis impersonators or Beatles cover bands. It’s boomers reliving their early coming of age, first sexual experiences, taking drugs, whatever. It’s all some deep, deep nostalgia of a time that was for them incredibly magic and which they were never able to capture again.”
Taplin says Jackson’s musical legac, from the Jackson 5 years to his ‘80s heyday, sits in a sweet spot for pop music. The music was global, and it belonged to the first generation of rockers.
“The boomer audience has still stayed attached to the music they grew up on,” says Taplin. “That’s why The Eagles sell out arenas. And if you look around, there’s not much hair on the men.”
But Michael Jackson moves young people too.
Davina Labbe, also know as VJ Kittyrox, puts on ‘80s Video Dance Attack every Friday night in Portland, Ore., at one of downtown's biggest clubs. The show’s been drawing hundreds of 20-to-30-something club-goers for going on eight years.
VJ Kittyrox says she’ll put on a slower-paced Michael Jackson song like 'Rock with You,' about an hour after the doors open, just to get things going. Then, once the dance floor’s full, she’ll alternate songs like ‘Billy Jean,’ or ‘Thriller’ with songs by Prince, New Order, the Bangles, and other '80s pop stars, to pump up the energy to a frenzy.
“And like every Michael Jackson song,” she says, “everybody knows every word, every beat. I think everyone on the planet owned that album ["Thriller"]. It just brings up the energy to this level that no other artist or song can do.”
VJ Kittyrox says today’s music industry doesn’t deliver hits that everyone around the world knows and can sing along to. Which is why Michael Jackson will live -- and sell -- on.
My husband and I have been gardening for nine years. I don’t even want to think about the amount of money I’ve spent on the garden during that time, but I can definitely tell you that growing our own food hasn’t saved us money.
True confessions on the economics of growing our garden
This year we spent $124 on worms called “beneficial nematodes.” They’re microscopic, and burrow in and kill the eggs and larvae of harmful insects. (They’d better work!)
Last year, I was prepared to spend $400 on dirt, but I was saved when the truck that was supposed to deliver it couldn't get up our narrow driveway. We got a full refund.
In years past, we’ve had a number of one-time budget busters. We had to buy yards and yards of deer fence to surround our garden and protect it from the marauding Bambies of our neighborhood. There was also the yards and yards of bunny fence to keep out all the Thumpers, too. That didn’t deter one determined mother rabbit who decided to have her babies in our garden. I ran around after them, banging pots and pans to scare them. (That didn’t cost anything, except my dignity in front of my neighbors.)
Now, some studies swear you can save a bundle growing your own food. Did I mention most of them were done by seed or fertilizer companies? A blog on Burpee’s website says, “Your little tomato patch yields you a thousand dollars worth of store bought tomatoes from a seed packet that costs you three or four dollars. Your return on investment? 250 to 1 or 25,000 percent. J. P. Morgan would not pass up that kind of opportunity.”
Why we really garden
Here’s the thing: Gardeners don’t necessarily grow vegetables to save money. That’s certainly the case with me and my husband. I like the exercise and the taste of a fresh-picked tomato is priceless. Plus, our garden is organic. I like the idea of giving my kids veggies that aren’t dunked in pesticide.
Bruce Butterfield is research director for the National Gardening Association. He says, “The money-saving aspect is not the main reason why people are growing tomatoes in the back yard.”
Butterfield says people mainly want good quality, better-tasting food.
How to save a few pennies
There are some things you can do to cut down costs. My husband and I share our garden, and its expenses, with another couple. We also make some of our own soil by composting.
Cindy Haynes, a horticulturist at Iowa State University, says it’s a good idea to plant things that you can later preserve, like tomatoes or squash. She also says to plant vegetables like lettuce or spinach because they don’t take up much space, and grow fast.
“You can continually plant them,” Haynes says. “So you harvest, then you plant again. So you can get two or three crops out of a single growing season.”
So, does growing your own food really save you money? Don’t hate me, but I have to say it depends. If you have crummy soil like we do, you’ll have to buy some good, composted soil. And if you live in a hot, humid place like we do, you’ll have to water a lot.
To definitely answer this question for myself, I’m doing an experiment this spring and summer. I’m going to keep track of how much we spend on our garden and how much it produces.
I’ll be tweeting about it, so follow me: @MarshallGenzer
I’ll let you know if that $124 investment in worms pays off!