Splashing Cold Water on the Frugal Garden
Last night I watched part of a “baby boomer and finances” special on Public Television. Part of the program was dedicated to telling the stories of retirees who grew most of their own food.
The food growing activity gave them exercise and saved them money. Good for them but truth be told, these folks were farmers, not gardeners. It’s not like they retired, took up farming as a hobby, and became instant food producers. These retirees were veterans of tilling the soil.
There has been lots of other programming and writing about our so-called new American frugalism. Stories featuring actual money saving are occasionally interrupted by talk about money-wasting campaigns such as “Cash for Clunkers.” Gotta stay in touch with our borrow-and-spend roots.
What was I writing about? Oh yeah – gardening.
Anyway, gardening as a frugal activity is popular now. I like gardening – when my friends and neighbors do it. I appreciate those surplus fruits and vegetables being passed over the fence or brought to the office to share.
More recently – with all the emphasis on gardening as a money saving activity – I started wondering if my “not in my backyard” attitude about gardening was short-sighted. Just as my doubts were getting the best of me, I was saved by this article: “Why Gardening Won’t End the Recession.”
You can read the article yourself or I can summarize it for you: Gardening is a wonderful hobby but it is not a solution to household budget problems.
According to the article, a survey by the National Gardening Association concluded that the average gardener saves $600 per year by producing food having an average value of $2/pound. The author quickly debunks that theory by reporting that she routinely buys fresh produce in her area for far less than $2/pound, even at the local grocer. And she didn’t have to get dirty growing it.
I love it when someone goes after conventional wisdom, don’t you?
Nothing against you gardeners out there. I love the stuff you grow. But I’m going to look for ways to save money that don’t involve dirt, bugs, and weeds.