Why grow a garden?

Why should anyone grow a garden?
It's actually a good question.  I mean after all food is plentiful at the store right?
Plus, food seems so cheap, so inexpensive right?  Just stick to the middle aisles, maybe cut some coupons and you'll save a whole heck of a lot!
Why grow tomatoes?  Why raise chickens?  Why keep honey bees?

There are many out there around me who look at me and think I'm nuts.  I've lost it.  I have gone off the deep end and will never return.  Or when I do, my fingers will be stained green and I will be stuck with mud under my fingernails and around my toes.

Yet, I can list several reasons why one should plant even a modest garden.

  1. The biggest and best reason in my book.  Your food will never taste better.  Tomatoes that are tart, sweet, flavorful.  Tomatoes that are not just pretty to look at but with a flavor that explodes in your mouth.  I promise. You will get spoiled. When the winter winds are blowing and summer is a distant memory I long for a bite of a good juicy tomato from the garden. 
  2. Simple Economics. Even if you go with starter plants it will still be cheaper in the long run.  Think of it this way, buy a cherry tomato or a beefsteak tomato plant at your local Home Depot or Lowes when they go on sale.  It might be as much as $8 for a big plant. Come Mid July that tomato will be starting to get fully into producing and you will be picking off a tomato or two, or if you are lucky a bowlful of tomatoes every few days. On the other hand, let's go to the grocery store. The local Shoprite here has published that they have tomatoes on the vine with homegrown taste for $1.49 per pound.  I imagine if you were to buy a small bunch of these you would come up to a price of about $3.00 at least.  Now if you are like us, you'll probably buy those tomatoes several times a month.   Lets just say four times in one month is a good number.  We're going to buy three pounds of tomatoes four times during the summer (when tomatoes are at their cheapest by the way).   We just spent $12.  Now that Lowes Hybrid or Heirloom tomato plant is looking pretty good at $8.  After all you are going to get way more tomatoes than just twelve in one summer. 
  3. This one is for the parents out there.  You will get the distinct and complete pleasure of teaching your children how their food is grown.  Your children will learn to appreciate their food all the more when they help with the planting, weeding and harvesting.  Tomatoes, bell peppers and lettuce suddenly become exciting because they helped grow it.  My son, Nicholas who is about to enter first grade recently came excitedly into my bedroom at bedtime and announced that as soon as they have a "Show and Tell day" he wants to bring in a strawberry plant so he can show all the other kids how strawberries grow.  I find it rather depressing that he remarked that so many of his friends don't know how strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce or apples grow.  This was like watching one of Chef Jamie Olivers Food Revolution shows where the children had no clue what the fruits and vegetables were.
  4. Stress Relief.  Seriously.  Let me say that again.  Stress Relief.  I cannot tell you how good it feels to come home from a chaotic day and get changed out of my work clothes and then unwind in our backyard.  We have frequent visits by hummingbirds, Cardinals, Red breasted Robins, and even a few yellow Finches.  I'll take watching the squirrels and birds battling out over who gets rights to the bird feeder any day over most television shows.  It's that entertaining.  Add the extra bonus of working with plants, watching them thrive under your care and you have a very therapeutic experience.  
  5. Yet another reason to grow a garden.  Pride.  You can tend your plants throughout the summer and then feel pride as they start to produce.  I cannot tell you how excited I get when it's time to go outside to see how the plants are doing and what they are producing.  When I see a large gorgeous tomato, so bright red; a shiny purple eggplant ready to be picked; a bell pepper, crisp and sweet, ready for salsa. Well I must admit, I am filled with such a wonderful feeling.  I grew this.  I grew my own food.  I did not have to rely on a grocery store or big box store for this.  I did it.
Now with all this said, I'm in no way saying that if you are going to start a garden you must start with loads and loads of plants, fill every space in your back or front yard.  Instead, start small.  
I started with herbs, most of which I had no clue what to do with at the time.  

If you feel inclined to start growing something you can simply start with a potted basil or tomato plant on a balcony or roof top if your limited on space or if you don't even have that a sunny window will do the trick.  

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