Forget about the additional weeding: A bigger garden can mean more savings, both for your wallet and for the planet.
My spring enthusiasm for vegetable gardening always outpaces my common sense.
This year is worse. Over the winter, I read the book, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” in which author Barbara Kingsolver chronicles her family’s year of eating only food they grew themselves, or what was grown within a few miles of their home.
“We should do this!” I enthused to my husband. “We can save the local farmer! Save money! Save the planet! Save our health!”
So when he trundled out the Rototiller last month to till the garden plot, I stood nearby, calling, “Bigger! Bigger!”
“I want room for several rows of yellow beans and basil and, ooooh, we should plant asparagus. What about rhubarb? And, oh, yum, let’s try fennel.”
Hubby heroically withstood the temptation to remind me how rapidly my enthusiasm wanes when weeding becomes the primary gardening activity. Gardening, for me, is like childbirth. I forget the pain and remember the pleasure — so I do it all over again.
Earlier in the week, I went out after work to plant sugar snap peas and dill and beans. Despite the chilly, damp weather and gathering dusk, I was having fun hoeing and planting. Barely noticed the twinge in my lower back.
By July, my back pain will have increased exponentially — like the thistles and crabgrass — and I’ll be snarling, “Whose idea was it to have this big honking garden anyway?”
But with Ms. Kingsolver as inspiration, I will persevere. I believe the end justifies the ache. We’ll have fresh, delicious, organic vegetables and herbs, we’ll have decreased our ecological footprint, and we will have saved a lot of money.
For instance, for the price of one head of broccoli, I bought a packet of seeds. Even though I managed to kill half the seedlings, it looks like I’ll end up with a dozen broccoli plants.
When you buy flats of seedlings, your upfront costs are higher. I’ve found the easiest plants to grow from seed are beans, peas, lettuce and zucchini.
If you’re looking for a deal on seeds, I suggest buying in bulk (by the ounce) from a local garden supplier, landscaper or farmer.
To maximize savings, I usually grow the things that are most expensive at the store or farmer’s market — such as herbs, leeks and sugar snap peas — or that are not readily available — such as yellow wax beans and pear-shaped tomatoes.
It’s spring. Get out there and plant a garden. Bigger! Bigger!
Saimi Bergmann writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio.