February 13, 2009


So what do you think? Are seeds a worthwhile investment?

I grew up gardening. Well, helping my dad garden. And I didn't mind it growing up. There is something therapeutic about spending hours in the garden picking peas and coming in with a huge bowl to show for it. And something wonderful about eating raspberries right off the bushes and peaches right out of the tree. And so I knew that in the future I wanted a garden. But I didn't fall in love with it until the summer after I got married.

We lived in a wonderful apartment. Small, but plenty big for a newly married couple. And we had a back balcony. And a couple of pots that we got as wedding presents. So I decided to grow some flowers. And they grew. And they were BEAUTIFUL. And I was hooked. Ever since then I have grown something every summer (except the summer we lived with the in-laws. And I missed it.)

For two years we lived in a house with a huge back yard and decent size garden. And I experimented. I grew peas that did not produce one single pea pod. I grew cilantro, which died before I could transplant it. I grew tomatoes that produced exactly one tomato on all 4 plants. I grew cucumber, which was eaten within weeks of it being planted.

I had a few successes. We ate salad for a couple of weeks from the lettuce that I grew. We had green onions any time we wanted them. And the second summer of planting I got about 5 tomatoes and 3 peppers. So I learned a few things.

Then we moved into our current house. And this house doesn't have a real garden. The tiny backyard has a dirt border. The front yard has 4 flower beds. And the shed is sitting on a decent amount of dirt that could be turned into a garden, but a previous owner had the brilliant idea of putting in rocks. I assume to keep out the weeds. Problem: They didn't put in enough. Weeds are pretty hardy, if you didn't know. They can grow in almost any condition. Vegetables, not so much.

Anyway, despite the lack of dirt on our property, I was so excited that I spent a good amount of money on seeds last year, guaranteeing my husband that it would be worth the investment, that we could spend the summer eating out of our garden and that we would save money in the long run and be healthier. I failed to take into account a few things:

1. Pregnancy. Do you know how hard it is to pull weeds in the hot summer sun at 6 months pregnant? Nigh unto impossible.

2. The cost of fertilizer, mulch and tomato cages.

3. Two little girls, who I thought would be more than willing to help me play in the dirt, bowed out in favor of riding bikes.

4. My incompetence in raising vegetables from seed.

5. The sincerity of my husband in his assertions that he would be no help in the yard. He meant every. single. word.

And so, our garden failed to make up the investment. We only had enough peas for me to snack on (as no one else would eat them raw, and there weren't enough to justify cooking), the pumpkins weren't ripe by Halloween, the cucumber plants produced 1 cucumber and the lettuce bolted before we could eat it all. The onions, raspberries, and strawberries were choked by weeds and the beans, potatoes, and honeydew never came up. The only things that were successful were things that we eat the least of: tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers.

So this year when ordering seeds I cut my list down by more than half. I learned my lessons for starting from seed and I read up on when things can be transplanted outside. And still my husband doubts the worth of these seeds and the knowledge I have gained thus far. And I am determined to learn more this year. And next year. And eventually, I would like to be thorough enough to start saving seeds so that this yearly expense is unnecessary. But at least to me, that money spent on seeds is worth every penny, even if we don't quite get the return on this investment that we would like.

What do you think? Is it worth it?


Heidi Ashworth said...

Absolutely yes! Education is very expensive yet priceless at the same time. I would say what you are learning compared to what you are spending is a pretty good exchange. I love to garden--sadly, my yards are so small (we own a condo type dwelling)that I get way too much shade to grow food. Still, growing flowers is very rewarding and I would guess growing food is even more so. You go girl!

Pam said...

I have really never had any luck with seed growing except for our corn. I just buy the already sprouted seeds and transplant them. Have you tried taking a soil sample to either a greenhouse or a nearby college agricultural extension to see what your soil needs. I have always had success with canadian peat moss and some manure compost. And this might sound crazy but we dedicate our garden area and pray over it. I figure it really is an investment and with 4(+) kids it is not money I want going down the drain. It seems like the Lord always blesses our efforts. Good luck!

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