Frugal Living 

5 Reasons to Start Your Own Garden

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(Not My) Home Vegetable GardenEarlier this year, my wife and I started our second annual garden project, after taking one year off, by planting several eggplant plants, tomato plants, and pepper plants in pots on our back deck. So far the project has been quite successful and many thanks to those who have been writing in with their suggestions and ideas. I never had a garden growing up, my wife never had a significant planter garden (growing plants in pots rather than in the ground), and we didn’t have a good idea whether a garden would even succeed on our deck. We failed to remember or record what happened two years ago but I am certain we didn’t plant as many vegetables as we did this year.

So far, the garden project has been a success and one we will definitely continue next year. By writing about it, I also get to record all the things we’ve learned and re-read everything later (along with the valuable comments!). So, if you’re considering starting a planter garden of your own, let me give you five good reasons why you should give it a try.

Be Self-Sustainable

We decided to go all out on our garden this year because we spent our honeymoon in Hawaii. How is that related? Fruits grow like crazy in Hawaii, something about the volcanic enriched soil and the gorgeous weather I suppose, but residents have all types of fruit trees and plants on their property. We stayed at a couple of bed & breakfast type places and at least half of the morning fruits were picked from the trees and plants in the yard. We had bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even some fruits I had never heard of before (and everyone owns chickens there too!).

The thought of being self-sustainable was very appealing. Why go to the store and buy something when I can grow something to eat? I really enjoyed “living off the land” while in Hawaii and this was a small reminder of that.

It’s Therapeutic

One of my friends recently asked me if tending a garden took a lot of time. If it does, I don’t see it as a chore. Every night I water the plants, making sure the little guys get enough to drink, and every few days I check on the plants themselves to make sure they’re still happy. Sometimes I pinch off a few leaves or retie a tie, but it’s a welcomed diversion from the daily activities.

Remember bonsai trees? Those were all the rage once and the appeal of tending a bonsai tree was the therapeutic benefits of trimming a little tree. (I still remember the Saved by the Bell clip showing Mr. Belding killing his tree!) Taking care of your garden is very much like that. You take a few minutes to check up on your plants, pinching off leaves, cutting off fruit, and letting your mind take a little break.

Sense of Accomplishment

Tending a plant so that it bears fruit is never easy and is always a learning experience. We had a little problem with bottom rot on some of our Roma tomatoes a few days back, I asked a few friends and many of them came back with great information. We, mostly our friends, concluded that the tomatoes were deficient in calcium but we couldn’t fix it because we couldn’t find a vendor, within reasonable distance, that carried the supplement. We also concluded that we simply packed too many tomatoes into one pot (3 in one instance) and they were starving each other out (unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about it).

But, the beefsteak tomatoes and the other Romas, in their own pots, are all growing nicely right now. The eggplants and orange peppers are also growing very well. Watching them get bigger and bigger really gives us a sense of pride, that we were able to grow it, and will probably increase our enjoyment of the bounty. Anyone can go to the store and buy eggplant, not everyone can grow it themselves! 🙂

It’s Safe

First it was spinach, then it was scallions, then it was tomatoes, (and now jalapeños!)… seems like there are outbreaks of salmonella or other bacteria every few months because of the industrial/commercial fertilizing techniques of major companies. When you grow it in your backyard and can control the process, you it’s very unlikely that you’ll introduce salmonella or other harmful bacteria. While growing every piece of fruit or vegetable you’ll eat isn’t going to be possible for most people, growing as much as can certainly can’t hurt!

It’s Cheaper!

It wouldn’t be a personal finance blog if I didn’t talk about money right? Sense of accomplishment, sustainability, and safety are all great reasons but the bottom line is the bottom line. In our economic times, a big reason for growing your own garden is for the cost savings. In our garden, we spent approximately $30 on plants and will easily pay for it in terms of vegetables grown. While we will track the yield and the cost savings, I’m confident saying that we will clear that and likely clear the cost of the dirt and extra planters as well.

Why is it cheaper? It costs more time. You’ll have to spend time potting your plants, watering them, taking care of them, and then harvesting the vegetables. It’s a significant number of hours, especially on the front end when you’re potting, but definitely worth it. While it’s faster to drive to the grocery store and pick up what you need, growing it yourself is a lot more fun.

Try it!

(Photo: socfool)

{ 10 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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10 Responses to “5 Reasons to Start Your Own Garden”

  1. Elsie says:

    It was a good feeling knowing that my dad was growing his own tomatoes and peppers during the latest salmonella outbreak.

  2. Posco says:

    I supervise a small community garden in an apartment complex. The management graciously allowed and paid for the setup of the garden. Unfortunately they insist that residents do not plant vegetables due to fear of an increase of pests (rats, squirrels, and other urban wildlife?). The garden is only for decorative plants and herbs.

    Gardeners: We would really like to plant edible plants. Is the pest issue a valid concern? What could we do to allay the concern or mitigate the problem?

  3. Patrick says:

    My girlfriend and I have a garden on the deck of our apartment. We are just starting to grow tomatoes and they are doing well. It is really nice to go outside everyday and water them. You can’t beat vegetables you grow in your own backyard.

  4. JessieX says:

    Ditto on everything you wrote. Growing a portion of my own vegetables and fruits is deeply satisfying on many a level. I’ve come to be much more attentive with our soil quality as it is the soil which produces the food. I treat it better and add organic nutrients and compost to it with a fervent knowing that my soil quality will impact the nutritional value of the food and the health of the plants I grow.

    Earlier today I had a conversation with my sister who lives in the Bay Area. She has a robust raised garden bed system on a relatively small bit-o-land. She’s starting to work with her neighbors to organize small groups who can help each other establish new veg. gardens. It’s so much more environmentally sound and economically wise to reduce the travel cost of food, too.

  5. 2million says:

    One of these days I am going to have to jump into this – it seems like every frugal pfblogger has a garden. My wife and I just aren’t there yet — we are still looking to get to the point where we can settle down and then Im sure we will talk about doing this.

  6. Brandi says:

    Don’t give up on the tomatoes with bottom rot quite yet. It’s time for some egg salad sandwiches! Boil some eggs (save the water). Peel the eggs, setting the egg shells aside and reserving the eggs for something tasty. Take the egg shells and crush them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Add crushed shells to the water and let set over night. Pour egg shell mixture over soil of tomato plant with bottom rot and lightly work shells into the soil. It might be too late for your plants to make it, but this is worth a shot.

  7. Jadin says:

    Has anyone considered impact/cost in a drought area? We’re in California and have a declared drought. Water prices are locally going up steeply, so have held back on raising water hungry veggies this year. Anyone figured out whether its worth it under these circumstances?

  8. Eric says:

    When you can eat a meal comprised almost entirely of food you raised yourself, it’s refreshing and very fulfilling. At work, I don’t always get to see the outcomes of my labor. With a garden, though, an hour or two every week translates into delicious homemade salsa, fresh corn on the cob, a refreshing desert of watermelon, or home-grown potato hashbrowns. I might not get to see the fruits of my office work, but the fruits of my work in the backyard are so tasty it doesn’t really matter.

  9. Great article. I completely agree.

    When it comes to the calcium issue, I read once that if every time you finish a gallon or quart of milk you fill it with water and use that water on your tomatoes you will be able to add just a little bit of calcium back in. So I do that. I don’t know if it really helps or not, but I feel like it does.

  10. fabclimber says:

    I have gardened for years and I am trying to grow more organically now. Last year I only ate my lunches from what I could grow at home. Mostly salad greens, green onions, tomatoes, etc. Made some veg soup too. Lost 25 pounds with only doing that and biking about 60 miles a week (not really that much). I know how these vegs were grown and refrain from using chemicals. Not expensive if your are careful. Takes some time early in the season, then mulch and let it grow and harvest. I use minimum water to avoid blights, etc. Be sure to plant only a partial row each week unless you want to give excess to the food bank – which is OK too.

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