Gardening. Is There Any Point to It?

No way gardening vegetables makes economic sense

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By David Hammond

Gardening. The world's oldest profession.

I've been gardening seriously for only the past six years.

My Oak Park back garden is, in summer, full of plants. I even cut out two swaths of lawn to accommodate more vegetables.

I say the garden is full of plants, not vegetables.

The drought of this summer, and all the watering I've needed to do, has really brought home to me the fact that, from an economic and time-value perspective, the garden may not be worth it.

Granted, this hot summer was unusual, but still, maybe it makes more sense to simply plant flowers – that will look pretty, smell great, support the bee population – than it is to plant vegetables.

When I take into account the labor, the cost for the plants and water, the expenses related to trellises, etc., there's no way a home garden makes economic sense.

And because I don't have sophisticated and super-efficient irrigation systems, I'm sure I'm wasting a lot of water keeping my plants alive through day after day of 100 degree temperatures.

And our net take this year has been pathetic. A dozen tomato plants have yielded maybe ten pounds of tomatoes. Six cucumber plants have brought forth maybe four pounds of cucumbers. Four squash plants netted us, so far, just one squash. Ridiculous.

I am not ruling out the possibility that I am an incompetent gardener, but one thing's for sure: I put a lot more into the garden than I get out of it.

So I'm on the fence. On the one hand, I enjoy gardening – but I also enjoy cooking and traveling and a lot of other things. I don't need to garden; it's a hobby. Like hunting, which very, very few people need to do, I don't need to garden.

Gardening is expensive and I'm not even sure it's environmentally wise as I'm using lots of water to keep my little plot semi-thriving.

So next year, I dunno. Maybe a vegetable garden. Maybe just wildflowers. 


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