Is Having a Garden and Growing Your Own Vegetables Worth It?

As the availability of fresh produce has increased in the grocery stores over the past few decades, gardening has decreased. As the recession has dragged on, gardening has made a come back. As the organic movement has taken root in the United States more and more people are starting to grow their own foods. I love seeing this! But many people still don't think it is worth it. The $64 Tomato by William Alexander that was published in 2006 didn't do much to help the gardening cause. So I have been keeping track of my harvest this year to determine if growing your own fruits and vegetables is really worth it.

While I can't say that gardening is easy, I do know that it shouldn't be hard. Honestly, it is up to you how much money you want to spend on your garden and how much time you want to invest in growing your own food. The more time you have the larger your garden can be. The more money you have the fancier it can be, but fancy doesn't grow vegetables. Vegetables need three things; sun, water and good soil. The good soil is where gardening will impact your wallet the most I have found. BUT if you can get good soil you will get repaid ten times over in good vegetables.

If you are just starting in the home grown food business, amending the soil is the key to getting a good start. It is so important to have good soil. Depending on how large your garden is going to be, you will either need to have soil trucked in or buy bags of peat moss and compost to get the soil going. Also depending on how large your garden is you will either need to mix all this dirt in by hand or borrow or rent a tiller. But if you have soil like us, which I question whether it can really be called soil because it is nothing but roots and clay, you might prefer to make raised beds. This will be your priciest option; however you will have an amazing harvest right from the start.

Looking back to our first year, we spent right around $100 to get our four raised beds started. This included boards, soil, fencing and all seeds and plants. We ate our fill of tomatoes and cucumbers for three months, way more than $100 worth if I had bought those foods at the store or farmer's market. This was also our most time consuming year, but I found it still to be worth it.

The second year we gardened here I spent around $50 on seeds and plants and we added two more boxes. Again we harvested wonderful fresh vegetables for three months; all we could eat and I canned some. This year we added a potato box, got six bags of manure and six bags of compost, and bought all plants and seeds for under $100. I have already harvested that amount in peas, green beans, lettuce, cucumbers and radishes from my garden and it is only the middle of July. I price compared everything I have picked to the farmer's market and the tomatoes haven't even turned red yet and I have made my money back.

Gardening is an investment in time and money. There is a commitment involved. You have to take care of the plants if they are to grow. But most people are around enough to keep things watered and weeded. There are ways to keep the weeds down and ways to make sure your garden gets watered even if you aren't around. You can make your garden as small or as big as you want and you can grow whatever you want.

There are also ways to keep the costs down. Making your own compost will help on the soil amending side of things. Growing your own plants from seeds will help lower costs on the plant side. Some people choose to grow the pricier vegetables they like to buy at the grocery store. This is certainly one way to get the most bang for your buck. I prefer to grow the items I buy the most of at the store. It means fewer trips to the store and while I might save a smaller amount of money per tomato, I figure the quantity of tomatoes we eat will generate plenty of savings for us.

If you have no land for a garden, try a container garden. A tomato plant in a pot can give you fresh tomatoes for several months. I have a pot with three different herbs in them, all we need and easy as can be. I even know someone who put a raised bed on her deck, so that she could grow her own food. You can even grow some plants in upside down hanging baskets if you really have no space on the ground. These are perfect for apartments.

Foods are so much fresher and fuller of nutrients when they are picked right from the vine and put on your table in a matter of minutes. For me, that alone makes it worth it. But from purely a financial aspect of things, it has always been a money saver for us to grow some of our own foods. If you are interested in growing your own food you can rest assured that if you put the time and effort into it, it will be worth it.

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Comments 46 comments

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

The soil is the thing and that can be costly if you need to buy it. I speak from experience, this year was the first in sometime I had to buy soil, for large container garden.


advisor4qb profile image

advisor4qb 7 years ago from On New Footing

I tried my hand at gardening. I don't think I was intended to grow anything, except children.


shawna.wilson profile image

shawna.wilson 7 years ago from Arizona

Thanks for the inspiration. I gave up on my summer garden this year, mostly out of laziness, but I plan on trying again with a winter garden.


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

I live in the woods but always manage to grow both flowers and vegetables in the sunny areas available - many in containers. Is it worth it? Heck yeah. Even if my yield isn't all that abundant, the joy I get from it is priceless.


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

I have grown a garden a few years back. It was about ten rows of veggie. I grew corn, potatoes, green beans on the bush, carrots, and I tried lettuce but failed with that one. That was some fine eating and the work took like ten minutes per night. Great hub, thanks for sharing.


andromida profile image

andromida 7 years ago

I wish I could live in woods.I have a lovely garden in my yard and thinking of making a container garden.Thanks for sharing excellent tips.


Kim Garcia 7 years ago

I have my own herb garden every spring and summer. It has been well worth the trouble as I grow many herbs that are difficult to find at the local grocery store, especially in a small town. Many of my herbs have medicinal purposes and are extremely beneficial in many ways!! Keep up the great hubs!!

Be Blessed!

Kim


simplyjo profile image

simplyjo 7 years ago

Interesting Hub :) Keep em coming.

Do check out mine too ! Thx.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Interesting Hub, as I had never considered the cost of soil. I have been working on my garden, which is mostly flowers, for 20+years. All that time I have made my own compost and dug it into the soil, or sometimes just spread it on top as a mulch. But from time to time I have purchased peat-free compost and have never really factored int the cost.

Regards growing vegetable: I only grow those that I love the taste of when they are truly fresh - so tomato plants take up a lot of space for me. I usually grow some carrots. Never mind the money saved, they taste so wonderful it is worth the time, sweat, effot - and probably the money.

Thanks for an interesting hub.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Simple answer......yes it is worth having a garden and growing your own vegetables and herbs. Some years are better than others...but we can always count on some fresh herbs to brighten up our dishes.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 7 years ago from Jaipur

Hi Jennifer,

This is useful in this particular time of recession. Moreover you are sure that you are getting really fresh and without chemicals and pesticides.

Growing own has its own taste.

Thanks for a good hub. I rated this up!

Jyoti Kothari


Chelles profile image

Chelles 7 years ago

I was wondering this myself and I think it is. We are growing a ton of things in containers in our garden: even pumpkins!


Shelly McRae profile image

Shelly McRae 7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

We have both a soil garden and a hydroponic garden. Growing your own herbs alone saves money... and the veggies taste so much better.


Chris1|Chris2 profile image

Chris1|Chris2 7 years ago from Los Angeles

Great hub. There's also a lot to be said for the spiritual benefits of growing a garden. My mother kept a beautiful flower garden throughout my childhood, and it was always fascinating to see how she could come home, stressed and tired from work, but as soon as she'd come inside from a couple hours of tending to her plants, she would be feeling great.

The extra food that comes with gardening veggies is great too, lol


create a page profile image

create a page 7 years ago from Maryland, USA

Great writing. I am even more convinced that I need to have a vegetable and fruit garden. I think I will do better with an indoor garden though.


brian-mba profile image

brian-mba 7 years ago from Ellicott City, MD

get family together and growing own vegetable, tomatos are price less...thanks for great hub


EmpressFelicity profile image

EmpressFelicity 7 years ago from Kent, England, UK

This year was the first year I seriously tried to grow vegetables in our tiny back garden (before then I had a few pots of herbs, but not much more than that). I would say that it was definitely worth it in terms of the enjoyment and exercise I got out of it. The biggest money saver for me was growing salad leaves such as rocket and baby spinach, which are very expensive to buy in the shops. It's also a real buzz being able to make a civilised light lunch out of home grown salad leaves, tomatoes, chives and parsley, supplemented by things like olives/ham/bread/cheese/tuna/hard boiled eggs.

My biggest expense by far is potting compost. I am making my own compost now though, so hopefully I can reduce the amount of potting compost I buy.


esamples profile image

esamples 7 years ago from Southern Illinois

Great hub! Just wanted to inject a tid bit. Remember if you are fairly new to garening that the placement of your garden as well as the plants that you grow there and their relivance to direct sunlite or crucial to good gardening just as much as the soil conditions, so study the invisioned placement first at different times of the day then research each plant type that you want to plant on the amount of sunlite that it requires. Also some plants do not grow well together ex. green beans and tomatoes do not like each other so space them relatively far apart! Hope this helps someone! Earl Samples


ajcor profile image

ajcor 6 years ago from NSW. Australia

I enjoyed the hub Jennifer - and thought to point out another couple of pluses which are the savings you make with growing your own vegetables and herbs and flowers. Less travel, from garden to table certainly saves all those food miles on the road and time spent sitting around in cold storage, the food tastes better, remains fresher and literally lasts longer ....cheers


britishbirdlover profile image

britishbirdlover 6 years ago from London, UK

Interesting hub. I think there's so much pleasure from growing your own product and that is one of the most important things for me.


Lillian 6 years ago

I never thought about gardening until we moved into a house with a big garden. Now, I've been gardening for years, and couldn't imagine living without the vegetables we grow. And with today’s economy, when everyone is looking for ways to cut expenses, I'm really glad i have my garden.


Julie McM profile image

Julie McM 6 years ago from Southern California

Great hub! I definitely believe vegetable gardening is worth the time and effort. Getting started is the hardest work, and takes some time to do it right. Once it is done, caring for the garden is not difficult, and the harvest is so fun and delicious.


Habby profile image

Habby 6 years ago from College Station, Texas

Great hub! Reminds me of a friend in town whom I admire who has he same kind of boxes in her backyard. I know you probably eat most of the veggies yourself, but have you ever thought of selling them or doing a co-op with others who also garden? (Sorry if this was already said in the other comments.)


Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

This article raises some great points. I know people who would not dare garden because it can be labor intensive, but I love it. It has become a regular part of my Spring routine.

You did a great job here, i can see why you have so many followers. i will be reading more of your hubs!


EugeneGaw profile image

EugeneGaw 6 years ago

I agree with Jyoti Kothari about staying away from pesticides. I found a company, Safer Brand, which makes an organic insect killer for tomatoes.

Here's the spray:

http://www.saferbrand.com/store/garden-care/5085


liswilliams profile image

liswilliams 6 years ago from South Africa

you right, sometimes you don't realize the cost of soil and a few extras, but nothing beats fresh veg. You know exactly what goes in


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

I have wondered if gardening was worth it. We spend way too much planting, and I can't see that my food bill drops much...but then we have a lot more mouths to feed in the summer. I do like have fresh vegetables, ...and who knows what the impact they have on my health. Prevention is always hard to measure.


Dobson profile image

Dobson 6 years ago from Virginia

I will always garden because i prefer the taste of my own vegetables over those at the store no matter the cost. Being able to walk out the door and gather fresh potatoes, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon and more anytime I like is worth all the effort it requires. Oh yes, I also meant to include the beans!. Great article Jennifer!


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

I grow my own garden every year. I love to work outside and the veggies taste great! Getting ready to start doing up my tomatoes.


Indoor Greenhouse Guy 6 years ago

Hi Jennifer, great hub you've created here. I'm always trying to talk people into growing their own vegetables in their own backyard! I think its such a healthy and worthwhile hobby that the whole family can get involved in. Moreover you know the fruit and veg that reaches the table is clean of chemicals and is as natural as it can be.


GuineaPigGardener 6 years ago

I have to agree that growing your own veggies is worth it. Besides the obvious health benefits from controlling what is used to help your plants grow, and the fact that they taste better from straight off the vine, working in the garden can be therapuetic. I find no greater pleasure after a long day of work than going into the garden for some R&R. Good Read!


Doreen Beech profile image

Doreen Beech 6 years ago from London

Excellent Hub, thanks for this. I've always wanted to grow my own veggies and this has given me that little bit more of an insight into how to do it properly. Thanks again


Dave Pinkney profile image

Dave Pinkney 6 years ago from United Kingdom

I've only just found this hub, and what a hub of information it is. A great read and I'm hoping I can write a great hub to link to it. Many thanks.


wooden garden sheds 6 years ago

I love growing veg and flowers together and having a shed to keep everything tidy really helps


dwebdesigner profile image

dwebdesigner 6 years ago from Australia

Great Hub, vegetable gardening is easy to do once you understand the concept. For great information on veggie gardening, go to:

http://www.ultimategreenthumb.com/fruits-and-veget...


chspublish 6 years ago

Thanks for the good information on raising home grown food and encouraging others.

I'm an avid vegetable grower and will grow any veg seed I can lay my hands on.

During the Spring of this year I had the opportunity to swop some seeds. All grew very well.

This year I saved seeds for the first time on a committed basis with a view to only growing them next year.

However, I must confess to looking at seed sites for next year and I am tempted to buy some already. The unusual, heritage and anything different always gets my interest.

As you say the soil preparation is very important, lots of compost etc.

Seaweed is good too and can be applied during the winter months under black plastic, if you can bear it and let the worms do their business of breaking it down into the soil.

The resultant harvest is well worth the investment of time and effort. In my area some of us gather in an allotment where we spend long hours pottering around our individual plots swopping ideas and encouraging each other.

Home grown veggies taste the best. It's quite difficult to go back to store bought veggies after a bountiful tasty harvest of one's own.

Thanks again for your encouragement.


billrobinson profile image

billrobinson 6 years ago from CA, USA

I've always liked to have a vegetable garden, but just don't have the time. I appreciate the inputs. Thanks!


Victoria Stephens profile image

Victoria Stephens 5 years ago from London

I love growing my own veg but have got to invest into some kind of coverage this year that stops the foxes and squirrels eating it all before I can.xxx


GreenerGreener profile image

GreenerGreener 5 years ago from http://greenergreener.com/

Gardening can be frustrating but it can be so rewarding too.

When you taste fresh veggies straight from your own garden it's all worth it.

And it really doesn't have to cost very much.


winepress profile image

winepress 5 years ago

I remember my father had a garden where we got most of our vegetables. I learned a lot from him, i can turn soil and water plants, I even learned planting techniques.

Having a garden saves money and it's a very good thing.

winepress


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

The taste and availability of fresh veggies and the satisfaction of growing my own are the best benefits for me.


Deadsearose profile image

Deadsearose 5 years ago

If the only benefit I have from gardening is the pride of feeding my family food that we grew in our own backyard, it's totally worth it! Nice Hub.


Medical Alert Necklace 5 years ago

great hub..planting your own vegetable is a nice thing to do..!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A great hub,so interesting and very well presented.

We only have a paved patio but we grow many fruit and vegetables in pots.

I vote this one up without a doubt.

Take care and have a great day.

Eiddwen.


DollieBALDWIN 4 years ago

I had a desire to start my own company, but I did not earn enough amount of money to do it. Thank goodness my fellow told to utilize the business loans. So I took the commercial loan and made real my dream.


LongTimeMother profile image

LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

Growing my own vegetables is definitely worth it. I've just had one of my biggest harvests ever. There will be no empty bellies in our house this year. :)

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