27 Benefits to a Veggie Garden; Benefits 1-7

April 19, 2011

One of the Bio-Trends I wrote about in late 2010 was on gardening and its benefits: This is Your Brain on ... Gardening. It's got a lot of great links to excellent, authoritative research on the financial and psychological benefits of gardening.

As the spring season progresses, articles on why backyard gardening WON'T save you money are springing up like, well, weeds, among the many how-to articles with tips on how to get the most out of your little plot. Consider this not-so-authoritative list to be a counterpoint to those weedy caveats. Here are the first 7:

1. The Economics of Chives and Other Herbs
A $1.50/bunch of chives at the supermarket or farmers' market for a couple of ounces/bunch) costs about $10 per pound. Our outlay for a packet of chive seeds a whole lot of years ago probably cost less than $2.50.

They've been coming up reliably year after year. Insects leave them alone and I probably harvest the equivalent of 2-3 bunches each week for using fresh in salads, soups, scrambled eggs, potato toppings and other dishes. I also chop, dry and freeze them for year-round enjoyment. This bounty is not counting the bunches I collect and distribute to friends and family members.

So, for personal use, the math comes out to: 3 bunches/week X 28 weeks (April - October, although I've harvested chives in November) X $1.50/bunch = $126. And that's not counting the 10 or more bunch-equivalents that get chopped, dried and frozen. This, from a single $2.50 outlay for seeds possibly 5 years ago. Do your own calculations for the herbs of your choice.

Sure, I wouldn't be buying 2-3 bunches of chives per week if I needed to pay for them, but the extravagance? What a joy!

2. An Exercise in Good Health
Gardening's definitely not for wimps (as I once foolishly thought). And all the stretching and bending with the sun on your back gives you an excellent excuse for cooling off with a nice dish of (name your flavor) ice cream. Just kidding (um, not really).

3.    Good Eating
Store bought tomatoes vs. your those harvested from your own little plot? Green beans, unsullied by pesticides, that were on the bush or vine less than an hour before you savor their steamed goodness? Cucumbers without a waxy coating? Ah, there's nothing like pretending to be your grandparents with their little kitchen garden.

4.    Good Attitude
Let the sounds, sights and smells of nature (even your own little plot of nature) surround you, slow your breathing and uplift your spirits.

Ok, I guess I could get carried away. But you know what I mean. Birds chirping, plants growing, lawnmowers roaring ...oops, it's not always serene, is it?

5.    Pleasant Surprises
Last year we had so much lettuce we couldn't keep up and let some of it go to seed. Well, it looks like we'll be enjoying "Red Sails" and several other varieties this year that wasn't exactly planned. Other gardeners have told me of their own pleasant surprises. What may be in store for you?

6.    A Bed of Asparagus - the Gift that Keeps on Giving
We planted ours at least 10 years ago, and each year more plants keep coming up. The neat thing about asparagus is that the skinny stalks that we don't cut turn into tall, feathery ferns with the occasional red berry. They sway in the wind and make a fine, airy "fence" that adds an interesting texture to an otherwise dull winter scene.

7.    Vase-worthy Cuttings from Veggie Blooms and Outgrowths
Our asparagus ferns in a tall vase nicely offset the shorter purple chive blossoms that appear in mid-season. Some people make chive blossom vinegar, although I've not tried it.
Benefits 8-14

Category: Now You Know
Filed under: Gardening, Exercise, Food/Nutrition, Psychology/Behavior