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How Much I Spend

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How much I spend

I've added this page for those curious about knowing how much this hobby is costing me.

Apart from indirect costs (digital cameras), and books (I try to buy everything on the subject that I can get my hands on, but I haven't made any mail orders of books), I haven't spent much. The angle iron shelter I use cost between RM200 to RM250 to make, the bulk of which is due to 2 pieces of clear plastic corrugated roofing sheet. Anyway, it's a long-term investment.

My cactus and succulents spending policy has been to 'do more with less money'. As such, I did not attempt anything expensive, like say pump-based hydroponic schemes. I'm no rich dude, so it's more of a can-do attitude than an attempt at oneupmanship. Still, a large collection is not entirely cheap to maintain.

In the table below, everything is in RM (Ringgit Malaysia) (RM3.8 = USD1 in June 2001). I have partial records for 1997. My Succseed purchase in that year cost about RM31.50.

Area 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Tools 46.60 7.95 0.80 4.50 -
Containers 46.91 66.70 57.20 20.00 -
Seeds 9.70 60.13 103.80 12.00 -
Soil 34.00 18.00 18.00 33.00 -
Plants 83.00 94.00 30.00 20.00 -
Hydroponics 101.70 53.20 6.00 38.80 -
Pots 51.50 61.40 19.00 10.00 -
Consumables 67.30 13.62 54.17 53.89 -
TOTAL 440.71 375.00 288.97 192.19 -

On the average, it's like 6 games of bowling per month. I'm expecting my total spending to hover between RM250 to RM300 annually. If I don't buy seeds from overseas in a year the total will be less than RM200. Of course I am working and paying all of it out of my own pocket, so if you are still on an allowance, it's better to keep your collection smaller. On the whole, I am happy in terms of bang-per-buck.

Spending Breakdown and Comments

Tools include shears, a pneumatic water sprayer, brushes and tweezers, among other things. Containers are mainly plastic containers for germinating seeds and for aquaculture. Seeds include the major purchases (amounting to RM54.23 for year 1999 and RM84.60 for year 2000). Soil is bought in bags, and that row includes purchases for aquarium gravel and stuff like that.

I bought 27 plants in 1998, 31 plants in 1999, then tapered down to 9 in the year 2000. This is due to a higher committment towards growing plants from seeds. I've also learned not to get carried away by cactus fever. I always buy small plants (in 2" pots), sometimes pots with 2 or 3 large seedlings in them. Dunno, but I'm just not into buying large plants.

As for hydroponics, I did most of the spending in 1998 and 1999. I bought more than enough boxes, cups and nutrient solutions in that period. Hence, year 2000 spending is close to zero. Pots are mainly plastic pots, most of which I bought during bouts of cactus fever in 1998 and 1999.

Consumables include fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides. My pack of Captan fungicide is over 3 years old now, since I use it sparingly. Most of the money went into fertilizers and insecticide (mainly for buying mild household insecticides for mild infestations).

2001 Update

As expected, expenditures dropped below RM200 (about USD60) without a major overseas seed purchase. Operationally, I culled a lot of excess plants and diseased plants, focusing on a few successful genera (like Gymnocalycium). The hydroponic collection was expanded and there is still over 200 Astrophytum asterias seedlings to care for.

A pair of tweezers account for tool expenditure. For containers, I got a seed tray and multi-purpose disposable plastic containers. The seeds include a couple of Horti seed packets which got for someone in the Philippines (anyway I got refunded for that).

The soil cost is higher due to transplanting a number of large specimens. Also, RM10 of small stones was bought. Plant purchases continue to decrease, down to 7 plants for RM20. The pots bought are large ones for larger plants.

There is an increase in expenditure for hydroponics, mainly due to a pH test kit and an algae treater, the two which totals RM26. The algae treater is actually not suitable; it is for aquariums and it will adversely affect the nutrient solution salt balance. Other purchases include hydroponic cups, fibre wool and styrofoam.

Consumables include H20 insecticide spray cans (3 of them), Malathion, miticide shampoo (for pets!), and seaweed concentrate fertilizer. For 2002, I expect to spend about RM150 with more efficient use of stuff.

Minimizing Costs

If you are on a tight budget, it's best to scout for collectors in your area -- find people willing to share cuttings and offsets. Most collectors will readily oblige. Mailing plant material is usually a bit less convenient. With some ingenuity, I believe it's entirely possible to accumulate a nice collection without paying for anything at all.

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  Last modified: 2002-08-26  Copyright © 1997-2002.  Kein-Hong Man.  all rights reserved