Why Does Your Garden Grow?

It’s that time of year again.


Do you feel it? When you drive up to the house, and you see the place where last year you had so much satisfaction out of picking your own fresh veggies for a salad.

Garden Photo

Maybe you had a big enough garden to do some canning. Maybe you dread the thought of all the work that is entailed to harvest all the food that you do. Hopefully, you feel good about this year’s garden plans. If you don’t, then you might want to readjust your plans, or take a year off.

I’m amazed that everyone doesn’t have at least a small garden, and even more amazed that those who can, don’t want to. I guess having had a few gardens over the years has convinced me that the little bit of effort required to grow a garden is overshadowed by the benefits.

The standard benefits you will find if you google “benefits of gardening” include good healthy food, exercise, learning, social outlets, creativity, sales opportunities, and emotional and spiritual gratification. I don’t know about all that but for me, the reasons are numerous. First and foremost is economic. Who doesn’t care about saving a buck? That’s why I buy used vehicles and carry liability insurance. That’s why I drive a scooter that despite going highway speeds, it still gets 63 miles per gallon. It’s the “Show me the money”.

I’m a teacher, and I try to explain to my students the cost benefit ratio of gardening. Let’s use broccoli for example. Initial investment is a couple of bucks for seeds, maybe $10 for a seed tray and soil. You plant 48 seeds, grow 48 broccoli plants, eat a lot of it fresh broccoli and freeze the rest. That’s like $100 worth of food for a $12 investment.

Take this same example a step further. How do you make a seed grow? With a minimal amount of reading, or talking to others, or a few youtube videos, you learn to keep the seeds and soil warm, and after germinating, add sunlight. After getting to a good size, give them some time in the sun/wind/rain to “harden” them off, and then transplant. Minimize weeding with lots of straw mulch. Really, it is that easy.

Gardening for me is a low risk adventure. It’s almost like a box of chocolates in that you never really know what you are going to get. You can only control so many of the variables and the rest you give up to Mother Nature. The unknown factor makes gardening fun. You get to watch and wonder as things germinate, some sooner than others. Crucial decisions must be made but you usually have time to read up on the topic or call a friend. When is it safe to plant potatoes? You will get lots of different answers, since all those solutions have been working for all those people probably for years.

This brings me to another aspect of gardening. It is hard to fail. Seriously, if you follow a few simple rules Mother Nature will help you succeed. If you even do a minimal number of things right, you will get something for your efforts. Most of the time, you will get something to eat.

Even in those rare cases where you planted something and it didn’t produce, you will have something that did. In the process, your mind was totally engaged in a creative process, taking in with all of your senses the wonder of nature. A seed, the size of a grain of salt or bigger, grew to be a plant sometimes several feet tall, produced flowers that smelled good to both you and the many different kinds of pollinators (bees, wasps, butterflies and possibly hummingbirds).

Here is the best part though. You pick it, you rinse it off, you slice it, and you eat it. No concern for chemicals, e-coli, destruction of the environment, cruelty to farm laborers. You started something months ago, invested time and energy, and maybe a few bucks, and with help from Mother Nature, your taste buds are screaming with joy.

But you aren’t done yet.

You take some of the extra harvest to a friend or neighbor, or even the local hunger coalition, and you have nourished your heart.

Now that is a deal!

Do you garden? Why or why not?