Is the Garden Worth the Cost? | God's World News

Is the Garden Worth the Cost?

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    If it’s your first year gardening, start small. (AP/Steve Helber)
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    Growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are expensive at the supermarket can save you money. (Jessica Damiano via AP)
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    Cherry and grape tomato plants can produce hundreds of fruits over the course of a growing season. (Jessica Damiano via AP)
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    Can’t find romanesco at the store? Grow it at home. (Pixabay)
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WORLDteen | Ages 11-14 | $35.88 per year

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Hoe in hand, sunshine above, garden gloves on. While you’re asking, “What should I plant?” you should also ask, “Is growing a garden worth the money it costs?”

That all depends.

A garden can be worthwhile if you grow what you enjoy eating. Live in a house in which no one likes tomatoes? Planting tomatoes will waste food, time, effort, and money—and you’ll also teach yourself to dislike gardening. Another pro tip: Plant crops that are expensive to buy in the grocery store. Pricier items such as herbs, berries, garlic, and peppers—especially organic ones—can all be grown in the back yard.

Let’s do the math. To grow most veggies, you need soil, seeds, and fertilizer, plus sunlight and water. You may also need plant stakes and wire or netting to protect from pests. Those commodities have varying costs depending on what’s available. Let’s guess that a pint of grape tomatoes holds around 25 fruits. In the supermarket, a pint may cost three dollars. Just one healthy tomato plant may produce 2,000 fruits over the course of a growing season—enough for around 80 pints. That comes in at around a $240 value, if you enjoy eating loads of grape tomatoes. From that profit you can subtract whatever you spent on gardening supplies, and you can add to it whatever value you get from other plants in your garden.

That value may not be quantifiable in dollars. Maybe you love rare vegetables that are hard to find in stores. These types of seeds can sometimes be costlier, but growing them at home gives you access to something you enjoy.

Maybe you love Malabar spinach, bitter melon, tomatillos, cucamelons, or romanesco and can’t find it at the store. Grow your own, and then can or freeze the surplus to enjoy in winter—all groceries you won’t have to buy later.

So if gardening can be a money saver, should you rip up the entire backyard and plant every square inch of it? Probably not as a beginner. You’ll likely give up on weeding and watering. Your early investment in fertilizer, soil, and water won’t be worthwhile if nothing thrives.

Start small, showing kindness to yourself and your wallet. Limit yourself to two four-by-four-foot raised beds, or, at most, a single 10-by-10-foot garden the first year. Plan to spend about 30 minutes two or three times each week tending to it. Do that, and you’ll be ready for more next year.

Why? People have always used gardens for food. But whether it saves money depends on what and how you garden.

For more about gardening, see Raised-Bed Gardening for Beginners by Tammy Wylie in our Recommended Reading. 

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