Is Growing a Garden "Worth It"?

by Renee' Anderson 20. March 2013

Grow Money

It's official - spring is here! As the weather is getting nicer and the daylight is lasting longer you are likely beginning to awaken from your winter hibernation and venture outdoors! Maybe you wandered out to your backyard to find a big empty plot of grass. "Hmm," you think to yourself, "Maybe I should start a garden." Then you start to think about how much work it would probably entail, and you wonder whether or not it would be worth it. So is growing a garden worth it?

It depends on your purpose.

Do you want to garden because you think you'd enjoy it and it would make for a nice hobby?

Or, do you want to garden simply because you're looking to save money?

Figure out your purpose. Gardening is very time consuming and is not for those who don’t enjoy breaking a sweat and getting their hands dirty. Gardening is also a lot about trying things until they work; although, with the internet at our fingertips, you can certainly do some easy research before experimenting.

Either way, gardening differs from state to state (i.e. climate), county to county (i.e. potential predators), and backyard to backyard (i.e. soil composition). So, you can do all of the research you want, but trial and error is inevitable. Why do I bring this up? Because, if you don’t have a certain level of interest in gardening, you likely will not do the appropriate research and will become frustrated with the experimenting process.

It’s hard to come up with an accurate cost analysis since conditions vary from garden to garden. For example, let’s say you plant 6 tomato plants at $1.47 apiece, but you live in a wooded area and deer ate 3 of your plants. Your neighbor may have put a fence up and had no problems with the deer, but how much did it cost to put the fence up (don’t forget labor)?

You see what I mean? There are lots of considerations to factor in when gardening, but the bottom line is- if you want to start a garden simply to save money, it’s not worth it, unless you put in a decent-sized garden (at least 30’ x 50’), and expect to take a money loss the first 1-3 years. In the long run, a large garden will pay off, but it takes some time to get your garden into tip top producing shape! Once your garden has become a vegetable producing machine, you will not only have enough to feed your family, but enough to share with neighbors and enough to can, freeze, or dry/dehydrate.

On the other hand, gardening is a great hobby, even if you’re not saving a ton of money. For me, gardening is a hobby that gives me some exercise, a way to de-stress, and a feeling of self-accomplishment. Since gardening can be hard work, I also find it very self-fulfilling to walk out and see my plants thriving in the sun, and to pick fresh vegetables that I grew myself. It’s also a huge plus to know exactly where your food comes from and to know if there were chemicals used, etc. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh asparagus picked directly from your backyard!

That being said, gardening, to me, is worth it! I might not be saving hundreds of dollars a year, but I’m certain not losing hundreds either, and I thoroughly enjoy it!

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