Your Garden: Growing for Pleasure and Savings

Your Garden: Growing for Pleasure and Savings

Your Garden: Growing for Pleasure and Savings

One of the most enjoyable aspects of spring is the renaissance of nature. The temperature slowly increases, birds are singing in the trees, plants are beginning to sprout and people emerge from their winter hibernation. Spring is also the time when we can start growing our own food outdoors. With a little bit of care, we can create a garden that provides us with an abundance of delicious and pesticide free produce. This garden can also end up saving us a lot of money during a time when grocery prices are steadily increasing.
This is part one of a two-part gardening special. Next week, we’ll explore the world of gardening in apartments and condominiums!

Thanks again for dropping by, I hope that you find this information helpful. You can find out more about The Friendly Financial Coach, Toronto’s only non-biased financial literacy coach, here.

Saving Money

As this is a personal finance blog, we’ll start with the question of how much does having a garden really save you? The answer can actually be quite complicated as it depends on how much you decide to invest in your garden. You can invest in expensive and cutting-edge gardening devices or keep things simple and stick the plants in the soil. The choice is really yours and you can spend as much as you want. In addition, small expenses and savings can also be complicated to keep track of; water costs or savings from fewer grocery trips are difficult to project.

For example, an average tomato plant is generally believed to yield between 10 to 25lbs of tomatoes a year. This amount depends on environmental conditions and the gardener’s care. If you grow four plants and each yields 15lbs of produce, then you would have a total of 60lbs of tomatoes. These pesticide free tomatoes are probably worth about $2 to $4 a pound and would likely be valued at about $120 to $240. Add the value of any extra plants like cucumbers, kale, spinach, herbs and more and the savings quickly add up.

Last year, my household harvested so much kale that we didn’t need to buy any packaged greens from the grocery store from summer to late-fall. We literally would just walk to the back yard and pick what we wanted.

However, we can’t forget the expenses associated with growing your plants. Plant costs, soil, fertilizer, equipment, water expenses, and more must be included.

The big deciding question is whether you enjoy gardening or not. If you don’t, then your savings will likely be eliminated by all the time that you will need to maintain your vegetable garden. You can expect to spend at least four hours to prepare the garden and about another hour or so each week to maintain it. Therefore, the labour costs may out weigh the benefits for those that do not want to garden.

But, It’s Not Just About Money!

On top of the possible dollar savings, gardens offer a plethora of non-monetary value. How rewarding is it to walk out to your garden to pick yourself some fresh produce right from the vine?

Having a garden can also give you unique opportunities to spend some quality time with your family. Children naturally love getting their hands dirty and helping out. Plus, you would be teaching your family about healthy eating habits!

So How to Get Started?

These are simple steps that can help you get started on your gardening journey:

  •  The first step is to be realistic about your situation. Gardening can be time consuming and definitely requires constant attention. It’s easy to get excited in the spring and create a garden that can be difficult to maintain throughout the year. Keep this in mind throughout the planning process.
  • Pick Your Site: The next step is to pick your gardening site. You’ll want to pick an area that has good water drainage and adequate sunlight. You’ll also want to choose an area that has soil that is adequate for planting.
  • Clear the Vegetation: This can involve cleaning out all of the weeds in the garden or removing layers of grass. One trick that can be used is to utilize “sheet composting.” Sheet composting involves creating a layer of cardboard or newspaper on top of the vegetation that blocks light and then covering that layer with an additional layer of dense compost, grass clipping or other suitable organic material. The only drawback with sheet composting is that it can take up to one season to get rid of the previous plant growth.
  • Prepare Your Garden Beds: Now you’ll need to design and create your garden beds. You’ll want your design to meet your unique personal needs. Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation recommends a simple design that has garden strips that are 40-inches wide with 20-inch walkways in-between each garden bed.
  • Clear the Vegetation: This can involve cleaning out all of the weeds in the garden or removing layers of grass. One trick that can be used is to utilize “sheet composting.” Sheet composting involves creating a layer of cardboard or newspaper on top of the vegetation that blocks light and then covering that layer with an additional layer of dense compost, grass clipping or other suitable organic material. The only drawback with sheet composting is that it can take up to one season to get rid of the previous plant growth.
  • Prepare Your Garden Beds: Now you’ll need to design and create your garden beds. You’ll want your design to meet your unique personal needs. Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation recommends a simple design that has garden strips that are 40-inches wide with 20-inch walkways in-between each garden bed.

Also, you can have raised or ground level garden beds. Raised beds are very attractive, but many  professional gardeners state that raised beds do not offer much of an advantage over ground level garden beds.

  • Add soil-enrichment: This step is especially important if you have a new garden. The idea is that you want to add compost and other additives to make your soil more productive. Usually, it’s recommended that you add about 4 inches of compost and mix it into the soil.
  • Plant!: This is the fun part and the choice is yours. You just need to make sure that your garden receives adequate sunlight and proper soil conditions for your selected plants. You can grow your plants from seed or buy potted seedlings. It’s usually recommended for new growers to start with seedlings to keep the work as simple as possible.
  • Maintain: Now you just need to keep your plants healthy and maintained. It’s important to water, fertilize and clean any weeds from the garden beds. A good trick to reduce the work time is to use mulch your garden beds to prevent weed growth.
  • Resources: There’s quite a few available resources that can be used to help your adventure in gardening. Mother Earth News also provides extensive advise on growing specific vegetables and even offers email reminders on what can be planted in your specific region. The City of Toronto offers water efficient garden and lawn tips.

I hope that you enjoyed this article on gardening. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me at 647-289-0012 or info@ffcoach.ca with any questions.

 

 

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