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Plan Well, Retire Well

Is gardening garbage or great? Well, maybe it’s both…

Well, obviously the summer has come and gone in Illinois and it's time to evaluate whether gardening was financially worth it. I had planned on keeping track of how much water we consumed and how many vegetables we were able to "save money on" because we had grown our own. Plus, the looking at the opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is a benefit of something that must be given up to achieve something else. In this example, I gave up purchasing vegetables (at a possibly lower cost) so I could grow them in my garden.

As it turns out, doing all those things over a summer, with a small toddler, and trying to balance enjoying our days in the sunshine was extremely difficult. Not to mention it was a rainy summer in my part of Illinois. Most of my tomato plants never did produce enough tomatoes to make the things I wanted to make like pasta sauces and salsa. We had so many bell peppers I started giving them to anyone who walked by our house, and since our lack of knowledge about brussels sprouts was limited, we didn't harvest it like we should have. Let's not even mention the broccoli we tried to grow…

Is gardening financially worth it? Probably not. I can tell you from the amount of time my husband and I took this year to take care of our budding produce it was not worth the outcome. From tilling the soil, mixing it in with our current dirt, putting up a fence so the dang bunnies wouldn't eat it, the effort and time didn't equal out in the amount of produce we got. Oh, let me also mention that medical bill I incurred from breaking my finger while preparing the garden area just as I was about to begin planting seeds!

Now gardening has a ton of other benefits. According to the research, the benefits of gardening include a way to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption. It also provides an opportunity for increased physical activity and exercise. Looking at specifically older adults, Theresa L. Scott et al. suggests that the most important reason for gardening was aesthetics aka "for its beauty". When talking about benefits of gardening activities it can be summed up into activity including rejuvenation, vitalization or mental stimulation. It seems that this research team hit the nail on the head when it comes to gardening. It's about enjoying nature, getting your hands dirty, plus that accomplishment that you're eating something you grew yourself. While gardening may not be financially worth it, it's not going to stop me from continuing to garden for many more years to come.

Research Resource:

Scott, T. L., Masser, B. M., & Pachana, N. A. (2014). Exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening for older adults. Ageing and Society, 35(10), 2176-2200. doi:10.1017/s0144686x14000865