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I have a neighbor who is going to babysit my garden while I'm on vacation in July, in exchange for whatever is ripe and harvestable during that time. How about that for a cheap solution?

One wonders; if they think all these costly gadgets are necessary how they can possibly think farmers can feed themselves and sell cheap zuchini to supermarkets. Oh, wait, I get it they just don't care.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my baby vegetables. I took care of several large vegetable gardens a few years ago (two 50 x 50 ft. plots and one 20x50 ft plot). We fed two food pantries once a week with a carload of vegetables each time. All of the garden staff (7) had all of the produce they wanted. We also had enough to send up to the restaurant.

I didn't have a vegetable garden for about four years, and I missed it every day. I love my fresh lettuce, in particular. I finally planted veggies this spring,and it is the absolute highlight of my day to go out and check on them. I'm doing everything I can to save costs-including growing as much as possible from seeds-and it is so fun. I didn't realize what a hole there was in my life when I didn't have a vegetable garden. And, I'm under 30 (for one more month!).

Katie, when I say "young gardeners," I really mean "young in the ways of the garden."

We've got professional growers at our local farmers' market who are in the 20's and absolute fonts of knowledge!

Only young gardeners are cynical?

How old do you have to be to be a young gardener? I think I'm a young-ish gardener, and am certainly not cynical.It's not the gardeners who are cynical at all, but non-gardeners.

However: You might save on food bills if you have a great deal of space, but if you have less space (city dwellers?) I still think that the satisfaction of growing your own herbs or vegetables or fruit on a tiny scale is AS important as the possible, small savings.

We have to face it: mass produced food is ludicrously affordable in this country. Coaxing people into spending more money to buy organic, or more time in the garden, has to be done with that in mind.

My own schtick is that we will produce better, nicer, wiser humans if we teach our children how to grow things.

Well I've been vegetable gardening for a while now (20 years). I really questioned some claims of gardens costing so little. Like Burpees $10 group of seeds to produce I think $600 of groceries. I do have inputs into my garden every year. I think it is cheaper to have it than to not have it, but I was curious, so this year I'm going to be adding it up. I amortized my 17 year old fence over 20 years ($60/year). The rest I'm not worrying about since I tend to fill in what I need when I need it. So far I'm at $166 spent. I live in the north and I haven't yet harvested so I'm in the hole right now. I'm really curious about how much really comes out of my garden and how much I spend. I've never added it up before. It certainly is no where near $3000. My garden isn't that big.

great descriptor Michelle, "granite-toppy"! These are the same people who think they need a Viking range to scramble an egg--or they have a Viking but can't cook an egg. Their problem isn't inexperience, it's the ignorance of consumerism--the only way to gain mastery is to buy your way into it. Some of us are lucky enough not to have that option. Ha!

Hear, hear. I consider myself to be a new gardener. Aside from reading a lot, I have very brief actual garden experience...but I can definitely attest to the cost benefit.

I started a couple years ago with just some herbs which pretty much grow themselves. If I tacked up just the savings I got from my now daily use of fresh herbs (does wonders for your cooking and health!), it has probably paid for most of my modest garden expansions and seeds. I now have constant fresh food from my garden with only a couple hours of work each week. By letting my garden do the work of creating soil, mulching and pest management that frees me up to grow the occasional seedlings, water a couple times a week, and eat the rewards....

At this point I am probably $100 in the hole, but springs coming on strong and I have more than enough seeds to take that $100 deficit and turn it into many, many pounds of food.

Ditto, Michele.

If your garden has to look like it's on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens and you need to look like Angelina Jolie while you're gardening, it WILL cost you lots of money to garden!

The cost of materials and tools is expensive at first, but they are designed to last for years. Even an entire package of seeds can last a couple of seasons.

Wow, that was some crazy rant by Ms. Reese at Slate. Ok, so the produce from a vegetable garden has costs associated with time, materials and labor. But it certainly doesn't have to be expensive. There are millions of people in the world who earn $3000/year or less (cost of Ms. Reese's irrigation system), and are still able to grow some of their own food. They're just using their local agricultural/gardening knowledge and resources proven to work for centuries. Only in modern America would people take Ms. Reese's argument seriously. We are so far removed from our agricultural heritage, that people believe they have to spend a lot of money to have a decent garden. And what about the costs of irrigating, weeding and fertilizing the lawn in place of the vegetable garden? i think if Ms. Reese did a thorough cost/benefit analysis for a vegetable garden, she would discover that the economic benefits are real and outweigh the costs.

Is she for real? $1000 on irrigation systems, or $40 bucks to pay a neighbor kid to water your pumpkin....hmmm, which would I choose...? Tough decision, I think I need to call an expert!

I've gotten by with simple drip irrigation on timers when I'm out of town. I guess I'm lucky to have friends who enjoy checking in on the garden now and again just to be sure all's well.

And, investing in keeping good soil tilth helps with the moisture requirements as well. A little compost from the bin or the garden center goes a long way and costs either nothing or just a few bucks a truck load.

Sure, I spend a about $50/year on mulch, $25 bucks for a timer that lasts a few years, maybe around $300 for a drip system that lasts for years and maybe around $200/summer to water my entire garden (not just the food). And, I work, enjoying myself and becoming more healthy, as I "toil" (to use Ms Reese's word) to create my food. Is it free? Nope, but it costs less than the 1-3 grand she's anticipating dropping on her watering system. And, quite likely, it will feed me, the neighbors who pitch in, and I'll have leftovers to donate to the food bank. (So, I suppose the food bank recipients will get free food out of the deal.)

And, Frankly, if we hadn't had our veggie garden on the farm as kids, I don't know that we could have afforded to eat during the winter. Amazing how folks do math different these days.

And, no, my garden today is not a farm:

Now to start "toiling"...or was it tilling? hmmm...

In our vegetable garden, I've way overspent, and over-designed, to make it a good-looking raised-bed potager. It has so many expensive non-essential bits (rose standard, boxwoods, concrete-block raised bed, copper trellis, apple espaliers, soaker hose...) that I'll never recoup the cost in vegetables.

Those were one-timed fixed costs though. Our annual costs are low - just seeds and compost. Even on our small plot I bet we get a few hundred dollars worth of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, dill, basil, and more. On top of all that we enjoy looking at it and working in it. That's priceless.

I feel that you are calling me old. *wink* I turn 30 in one month. Even though I've been gardening since I was three years old, I still consider myself "young" in the ways of gardening. I learn a lot every year, but I still have a lot to learn!

Oh, and so much for saving $$. I went to my local master gardener plant sale this afternoon and came home approximately 1/2 paycheck lighter. DANG! But, I have to keep the butterfly garden I planted for my dog in good shape. (Yes, I'm nuts, but she sits right by the window and likes to watch the butterflies!)

Happy gardening!

I loved that adjective! Unfortunately, that describes my Mom. Drives me nuts!

Some people golf. I garden

Some people shop. I garden

Some people have a motorcycle. I garden

Some people cook lavish meals. I garden

Some people go to Europe. I garden

Some people do drugs. I garden

To me gardening is a way to connect with the dirt, my youth, my grandfather, my soul. There is something magical about taking a small seed and nuturing it to a plant, a tomato, a juicey slice of heaven.

I'm glad we're not burdening the young anymore. Whew!

But otherwise, here here, it doesn't have to be expensive. It also helps to learn how to make things because gardening asks you to make things. The more ingenuity you discover in yourself, the more you save.

But what is it really: seeds, soil, water. If you got the first two, your on your way.

You know I'm old enough to admit it: I've been spelling it "Here, here."

We are ALL 'young gardeners', as Thomas Jefferson said. Heck, the older I get, the more I like that saying...

Anyway, some of you know about the twenty-five dollar organic victory garden challenge I've given myself (if you don't just click onto my blog and read all about it). But the point is, it doesn't have to be expensive. Can I really plant a food garden that can feed my family of four all summer for twenty-five bucks or less???
Yes, and I'm documenting the whole process including almost daily videos.

Believe me, I've had to get creative but I'm amazed how resourceful we become when we need to. So far, my seeds are planted and I've spent a total of seven bucks on two bags of seed starting mix. I've used pizza boxes for seed trays, cake toppers for mini-greenhouses, and seeds donated from frinds. My garden soil is free from the county facility, and garage sales and will help equip the garden,etc.

Gardening CAN be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. And I'm gonna prove it! Shame on anyone who is communicating that gardening is financially inaccessible, especially now!

Well, it could be, There!there!

Agreed! I applaud your efforts, and am admiring them from afar. . . Though I might tote my wheel barrow down the street to scavenge some junk in my neighbor's yard (by the curb. that means "take me!" in my neighborhood) to make trellises.

I spend my pocket money on my garden, and that's ok with me. You keep up your $25 garden, Joe. I am enjoying your progress! I think it is important for people to understand that gardening is not just for the wealthy, but only recently was viewed that way. I saw a hilarious magnet in a store in Florida. It said

"Eat Organic Vegetables! Or, as your Grandma called them: Vegetables." I think that sums it up pretty well!

There There, it'll be okay.

That picture looks fake. What does it look like now?

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