By Sarah Chisholm
Financial Advisor, O’Farrell Financial Services
Food for thought on a popular summer project – the vegetable garden. Was the Covid gardening craze worth it?
The last few years, my sister and I have helped our Grandma plant and tend a massive vegetable garden. We grew potatoes, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peppers and weeds that would not be tamed. Over the course of the summer we mused, was the garden worth it?
Financially, the answer is no. After considering the cost of seeds and plants (thanks Grandma), our time and our mileage, we are lucky to have broken even. Fresh produce is inexpensive—zucchini is a dime a dozen— you’ll often find boxes of the stuff left by friends and family on your front steps or windshield! The best investment would have been sweet corn, but we gave up on growing it years ago – it requires too much space, and the raccoons devour it.
Physically and emotionally, however, the vegetable garden was absolutely worth it!
Have you ever spent a full hour pulling weeds out by hand, running a massive rototiller, or hilling pepper plants with a hoe? As extra motivation, your Grandma, who began before you, hasn’t even worked up a sweat. Not even the best personal trainer could come up with such an invigorating workout.
What is better than chatting for 2-3 hours weekly with your sister and grandma in the garden? Gardening is therapy and can provide a beautiful connection to the past. When the carrots are ready, everyone remembers Grandpa’s special technique for eating fresh produce: pull the carrot, spit on the carrot, rub the carrot on your work pants and enjoy! I don’t care if carrots are $2.99 for 5 lbs. at the grocery store, the emotion behind a self grown carrot trumps any financial benefit.
Did it really make sense to grow tomatoes? Absolutely. Think about it—you could buy 18 jars of pasta sauce for $1.75 each at the store, or you could plant 30 tomato plants, repeat after the late frost, weed throughout the summer (maybe) and finally harvest copious amounts of ripe tomatoes. This triggers another adventure: making pasta sauce for the first time ever, with your mom. Four hours of chopping and stirring ingredients and 24 hours simmering in the pan. Totally worth the time spent in the garden with Grandma and in the kitchen with Mom.
Some more food for thought – a trusted Financial Advisor will review both the financial and the emotional side of your plan. Certain experiences may not grow your net worth, but they will bring value to your life.
As Christmas approaches – be forewarned – my share of this summer garden’s bounty included two laundry baskets of potatoes and I am not afraid to wrap them up as gifts.
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