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Plan Well, Retire Well

Is Gardening Garbage or Great?

For the last two summers, my family and I have had a garden in the backyard. We take the time to till the soil, plant the vegetables and herbs, then wait. This summer I want to track my spending and see if my time and money it's really worth having a garden.

This year we planted:

  • 7 tomato plants (roma, heirloom and cherry)
  • 4 bell pepper plants
  • 1 jalapeno plant
  • 1 broccoli plant
  • 1 brussel sprout plant
  • 2 basil herbs
  • 1 rosemary herb
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • Plus some seeds for zucchini and squash
  • All for a total of around $110

Why Garden?

According to the University of Illinois Extension, Urban Gardening Educator, Ron Wolford – Gardening can:

  • Make you healthier and happier
  • Is a peaceful and stimulating environment
  • It's a tool to help people cope with issues such as anxiety, depression and conditions affecting physical health
  • Stimulated thoughts
  • Exercises the body, fresh air, and vitamin D
  • Encourages awareness of the external environment
  • Renew desire to live
  • Increases flexibility, hand strength, and hand-eye coordination
  • Provide sanctuary in our busy lives

Learning from mistakes

I will say in years past, I have made a few mistakes that may have made the gardening experience not valuable to be financially -- including not fencing off my garden, planting too many of one kind of plant as well as not watering it enough. One mistake I learned was growing too many cucumbers. I've found that they go in abundance and we don't consumer them before they go bad!

TIP: If you're thinking about planting a garden, plant vegetables, fruit, herbs that you like! This will motivate you to tend to your garden.

Time vs Cost

One of the main concerns about having a garden that I hear, "is it worth having a garden?" There are many benefits of having a garden, enjoying the produce, getting to be outside in the sunshine, and being proud of the accomplishment. To me, having my garden fresh tomatoes made into a pasta sauce that I can enjoy later is not only something I value but I also enjoy.

When gardening there are other factors to consider including:

  • Your time – how many hours are you spending per week on your garden?
  • Water costs – how much more will your water bill be?
  • Opportunity cost – time in my garden verses buying the produce in a grocery store

Let's Learn Together

I want to challenge our readers to follow along with me in my garden budget to see if having a garden is more of a time suck or time worthy! Plus it'll be a learning experience for all of us as well see what produce is harvested and how it all plays out financially.