Monday, April 14, 2014

Gardening is a great investment


There are few things you can do in this world that offer as much reward, financially and personally, as gardening. A tomato seed, which costs only pennies, can grow into a plant that can produce twenty or more pounds of fresh, organic food. In addition to the financial benefits, gardening provides you with a reason to go outside, breathe fresh air, and get some exercise. And once you’ve tasted a garden fresh tomato, you will understand why it is the number one vegetable grown in backyard gardens. But the benefits don’t stop with tomatoes. Practically every vegetable tastes better when it’s fresh and ripens on the vine, and it is more nutritious. From the time produce is picked, it starts to lose nutrition, and if it is picked green, it has lower nutritional value than if it is vine ripened.

Sometimes articles or books make gardening sound like a terribly expensive hobby, requiring high-priced tools, raised beds, and gravel-lined pathways. In reality, you can start growing some of your own foods for less than $10 by purchasing a few inexpensive bedding plants at your local garden center. If you have never had a garden, start small with your favorite, most-often purchased vegetable. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing a garden consumed by weeds because it was too big for you to be able to tend through the growing season.

Savings: How much money you save will depend on what vegetables you grow. If you plant easy-to-grow, prolific and expensive vegetables like bell peppers, you will save a lot more than if you plant inexpensive vegetables like carrots, which yield one carrot per seed and can be a challenge to germinate. Assuming half a pound of fresh produce per square foot of garden space, you can expect about 300 pounds of produce from the average 600-square-foot garden. At $2 per pound, that adds up to $600 of fresh produce. The average investment for a food garden is $70, providing you with a savings of about $530 annually.

This is an excerpt from Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life.

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