Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Frugality of Gardening

Plant a garden they say.  Or raise chickens in your backyard.  Compost, re-use, recycle.  Preserve your own food.  Be green and save money.  Thriftiness and frugality are in style.  There is advice everywhere on how to do these things.

And so I have bought into it; partly to save money, and partly because I enjoy it.  Last year, I decided to build a raised bed for a garden.  Of course, it had to be just right, and the materials were not cheap.  But I forged on with thoughts of baskets full of vegetables at harvest.  The most frugal thing about the garden was the free tomato plants I scored.  Those tomato plants did very well.  I had also purchased two other tomato plants from a greenhouse, and only one survived.  The pepper plants I bought died too.  The cucumber plant produced five small fruits until it gave up, and the carrots, lettuce, and spinach didn’t even make an appearance.  The garden became the neighborhood litter box for all the local cats (there are lots of them).  I tried Critter Ridder, fertilizer, regular watering, prayer, encouraging the plants, yelling at the plants, and various other proven growing methods.  Nothing seemed to help, so we had a garden full of tomatoes. Very expensive tomatoes on free plants.

So this is a new year and hope springs anew.  We have acquired a dog since last spring, and she is quite effective in keeping the cats out of the yard.  I need to learn to be equally effective in keeping the dog out of the garden.  I am thinking that keeping one dog out of the garden may be easier than keeping 20 cats out of their old litter box.  Last year I saved seeds from my favorite (free) tomato plants.  I am trying to start my own plants inside this year instead of buying them at a greenhouse, but my hopes are dwindling since I keep forgetting to water them.

In my experience gardening and frugality have not gone hand in hand.  I think I could save money by just buying produce locally.  It gets frustrating when things don’t grow and produce as planned, but the hope that comes with the warmer weather, the joy of working outside, and dreams of a bountiful harvest, will keep me trying again each year.  I have a feeling though that this will be the year…