27 Benefits to a Veggie Garden (8-14)

April 20, 2011

Continuing with the good things that come from a home vegetable garden. Benefits 1-7.

8.    Goodwill
Whether you've got an abundance of riches in mid-season or are simply celebrating those first ripening tomatoes, sharing with others spreads the joy. Reminds me of Portia's famous Quality of Mercy quote from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice: "It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven...It is twice blessed; It blesseth (the one) that gives and (the one) that takes." Especially if the one that takes is elderly, lives in an apartment or has many mouths to feed.
9.    Border Patrol
Plant marigolds, chives, sage and other herbs around your garden's perimeter to form a natural barrier to insects, rabbits and other critters looking for a tasty meal (while destroying yours in the process). And they and color and texture as an added benefit. Check your local university extension service or garden supply for specifics.

10.    "Free" Extra Garden Nutrients from Compost
Does the word "compost" conjure up images of smelly piles of fermenting leaves or big, expensive bins?

If you've got the acreage or the money, these can be solutions. Most of us urban or suburban gardeners can make do with a small compost pail that can transform your kitchen scraps -- NO MEAT, THOUGH -- into useful food for your veggie garden; there's no smell, no mess, and little-to-no cost.

You can use some food scraps directly in your garden. Crushed egg shells help to break up clayey soil. You can sprinkle spent coffee grounds directly onto your soil or add water to the grounds, swish and pour onto the soil; mold may form if you just pile up the coffee grounds.
11.    Seeds from This Year's Crop = Next Year's Crop
You may not get the level of germination promised on the original seed packet, but...

...if you let a few of your green bean pods mature until they're dry, harvest the seeds, put them in a small envelope and store them in a cool, dry place (basement is better than a fridge because it's a dryer environment) until the following spring. Plant as you would fresh seeds.

Our no-cost crops have included: self-seeding leafy greens such as Swiss Chard and Mustard Greens plus some lettuce; harvested green bean seeds (bush or pole variety); asparagus; and chives. Not bad!

A word of advice: you probably shouldn't bother with tomatoes that come up from last year's crop. The plants are nearly always spindly and yield very poorly (if at all).

12.    Save Money on Gas (especially ~ $4.50/gal)
Depending on your food shopping habits, fewer trips to the grocery store or local market will add up to measurable savings over spring, summer and fall months, not to mention wear and tear on your car plus unproductive time whether you drive or take the bus.

Even if you don't make fewer trips, your tally at the checkout counter definitely will yield measurable savings.

13.    Be an Up-Close-&-Personal "Locavore"
How much more local of an "eat locally produced food" person can you get?

14.    Attract Birds, Bees & Butterflies
The intensely-colored flowers of our "Scarlet Emperor" runner beans were a big hit with bees and hummingbirds last year. An added bit of fun to the color and the buzz was the height they reached, and then cascaded down, as they grew beyond the 10-foot support we erected.

Category: Now You Know
Filed under
: Gardening, Locavorism, Food/Nutrition, Animals, Insects, Energy/Fuel