Earlier 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.
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.
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!
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 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.