I wrote this post about 2 years ago. This year we will take a complete break from vegetable gardening as we work on our home in preparation for selling it and moving to a bigger home.
I’m kicking off 2013 by thinking about our vegetable garden and flower beds. Now you may think, oh, just the vegetable garden and flower beds. Not really for us. For the past 7 years or more, our vegetable garden has supplied us with lots of cheap organic vegetables for our family of 7. It’s also been a lot of work, both in preparing the beds, putting up the deer fencing, and then harvesting and preserving the bounty.
Vegetable gardening is a passion long shared by my husband and I. For the first few years, we had a garden at my inlaw’s home before tearing up the postage stamp front yard of our Southwest Philadelphia row home. We love to eat homemade food; we love to make our own food; we love to grow our own food. Though how much time we can spend growing our own food has changed in the last 5 years or so.
My husband and I have realized we’re at the point where we need to prioritize or cut back, whichever way you want to look at it. While I love having a yard full of flowers and food, I need to take a hard look at the pros and cons, especially since I have the most time and spend the most time gardening.
The Cost of the Vegetable Garden
- The flower beds teach our children about the natural world, the environment, and provide a natural place to do nature study.
- The vegetable garden supplies us with cheap, organic vegetables with our cost per pound averaging about $.50.
- Since we’re generally on top of the weeding in the vegetable beds, they require some weeding every week.
- We’re able to use our entire yard for edible landscaping. Many of the plants that provide fruit generally require just basic care.
- All of our yard waste, except for the rose stuff, goes into our compost pile which goes back onto the vegetable beds. The kitchen waste also goes onto the vegetable beds.
- While the vegetable beds remain easy to maintain, the flower beds need more weeding, pruning, and other maintenance.
- While my husband and I love to garden, we also want to spend time taking our children on trips and vacations.
- The flower beds also need regular applications of mulch which costs us about $500 annually.
- The presence of deer in the neighborhood requires a deer fencing to protect the tomato plants in the vegetable garden. This fence makes it difficult to get in and out of the vegetable garden not to mention keeping the area around the vegetable garden well maintained.
- We have a shredder which we purchased a number of years ago to help speed up the compost pile’s decomposition, but because the shredder needs to be fixed, our $500 purchase has been sitting and sitting in the garage.
- Each spring I buy some perennials to fill in spots in the flower beds, though too often, the plants don’t make it into the ground. Or, if they are installed, I don’t spend enough time taking care of them to ensure they take root. We probably waste $50 to $75 yearly. Ugh!
Our Tentative Plans for 2013
- I don’t think we’ll grow tomatoes this year as much as we love homegrown tomatoes. We have to fence the entire vegetable garden to protect them from the deer.
- We’ll experiment with finding vegetable plants the deer won’t eat. I’ll see if temporary deer netting can be placed over the plants the deer do eat.
- I may also try experimenting with running rope tied to posts around the vegetable garden to prevent the deer from walking through and crushing plants. I think the ropes and poles may be easier to work around than the fencing with the poles.
- I’ll make regular stops at a local farmers market to keep us supplied with local, organic vegetables. We won’t sign up for a CSA yet until we’re sure it’s worth the investment.
- We’ll start reclaiming parts of the yard for grass.
- We will spend money on mulch to keep the weeds down.
- We’ll remove the two apple trees and turn that bed into grass with the lilac bush remaining in the bed.
- I WON’T buy any more perennials.
While I will miss the intensive gardening we’ve done in the past, I also know the season for intensive vegetable gardening will come again. Grass can always be turned back into beds.