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Can you really create a decent veggie garden with only $25?

$25VeggieGarden1 First a bit of a rant…

Remember the book, The $64 Tomato which fueled the fire that vegetable gardening is obscenely expensive? Now there is an article over on Slate saying the same thing AND that gardening is such hard work and costs so much money that you can’t call the produce “free”.

While I agree that you have to put in some “work” to produce a vegetable garden which technically makes it not “free”, (oh the toils of bending over to drop that heavy seed into the soil!) the writer of the article makes gardening sound extremely unappealing.

“…gardening is incredibly messy, ruins your hands, wears holes in the knees of your jeans, ends up costing 40 times more than you think it will, sucks up whole weekends in a single gulp, takes over your dreams, and frequently breaks your heart.”


Well, perhaps the writer needs some help in her garden. She obviously has a few “issues”.

In all fairness, she does go on to say that “gardening is one of the joys of life. Peaceful and meditative…

And that my friends, is the real reason people garden. Unlike the Slate writer, I would not call spending time doing THAT “wasted” time. Gardening time is only “wasted” if you are not a gardener and get no enjoyment out of the experience. If that is the case, then you should be doing something else! Go do whatever it is that YOU love to do. Life is too short to be doing a hobby that you find to be a waste of time.

As for the “ruined hands” comment in the article, I disagree. Despite being an avid gardener my hands are not “ruined” at all. My hands look great because I wear this handy invention called “GLOVES”. And yes, I know that some people don’t like to wear gloves. But if you want to save your hands, you find a way to work through the lack of dexterity.

But the statement that I have the biggest issue with in the Slate article is the one about COST. Experienced gardeners know how to save money. They don’t buy unnecessary equipment or gimmicks. They don’t spend 40 times more than they should as she suggests. They don’t have to put in a $3,000 irrigation system to water during vacation time. They either buy a cheap hose timer or find more responsible friends to help with watering when they go out of town.

Unfortunately, this Slate article will probably turn people off to gardening by “tilling” up old misconceptions. I’m not the only one to feel this way. The topic was brought up during a discussion over at GardenRant. AND in that discussion, Michele Owens of GardenRant says that she saves about $3,000 a year on groceries by growing her own produce. She serious does!

$25VeggieGarden2 So all of this brings me to the “$25 Veggie Garden”

How much (or how little) money can you get away with when starting a vegetable garden?

Well, if you REALLY want to know how to save money on a vegetable garden, look no further than Joe Lamp’l. He just started a $25 Vegetable Garden Project to feed his family of four. Yes, you read that correctly. He is only spending $25 and wants to see just how far he can take his dollar. You can follow his adventure on his blog and through his TV appearances. And people…So far he has only spent $7 of that $25. He rocks!

Before I heard about Joe’s project, I had already spent $45 on the seeds and plants for my veggie garden. So I can’t officially take part in the $25 project. But I am staying more on top of my expenses this year to get a feel for how much it really costs me. So far, I am growing: corn, carrots (orange, yellow, purple, white), spinach, lettuce, 2 different zucchini, 3 different tomatoes, 3 different beans, potatoes, onions, leeks, 5 different colored bell peppers, 4 kinds of summer squash, scallions, 2 different pumpkins and 3 kinds of cucumbers. Not bad for $45. And I haven’t even planted all my seeds yet!

Also, I rarely use all the seeds in a seed packet. (Who really needs more than a few zucchini plants anyway?) So, I shipped my leftover seeds to Joe to help him in his quest for an inexpensive garden. I also share my seeds and produce among gardening friends locally.

Through seed sharing, garage sales, friends and neighbors, anyone can reduce the costs of creating a veggie garden. And that is how experienced gardeners save money each year growing their own produce. With their experience, they have less problems and less expenses. They know where to get seeds cheaply and how to grow them properly. They reuse old equipment or re-purpose something to make due.

If any of you have ideas on how to garden on less money, leave a comment below. We can all use the new ideas and I am sure we can garden very creatively on a budget if we put our minds to it.

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.