Why Garden At All?

Hi, all! Ryan here. A lot of you might be wondering why you should go through all the trouble of growing things you can pick up anytime at the grocery store. What makes it worth building your own raised bed or hydroponic garden?

Here are some quick reasons:

  1. Garden-fresh vegetables are so fresh, they taste better, and they save you tons of money over time (Hint: the grocery store is in your house or backyard!)
  2. Gardening makes you more self-sufficient.
  3. It’s fun to witness progress over a long period of time.
  4. It can be done anywhere.
  5. Planning gardens can scratch your artistic itch.

1. Garden Fresh Vegetables

Many of us in the U.S. have never tasted a vegetable directly pulled from a garden. The experience is life-changing, and for those of you who enjoy cooking and want to infuse as much flavor into your dishes as you can, this reason will appeal to you. Nothing can rival the taste of fresh herbs just cut from the garden. Those small, plastic containers of herbs you buy at the grocery store contain plants that are days old and are usually already browning or dried out, significantly impacting the flavor. Apart from that, the mass-produced herbs aren’t grown with the same attention to detail and care that you as a gardener could impart at home. And, you will be spending your hard-earned cash on your gardening hobby by producing far more than you can buy for the same price.

Raised Bed Garden in an Alley in Boston

2. Be more self-sufficient.

In these times of COVID-19, gardening is one of the few hobbies that can be both relaxing and productive. A lot of us are trying to practice social-distancing by avoiding going out in public to shop, and gardening can certainly help you do that.

Planting your third row of romaine lettuce while smelling the calming scents of lavender is a much more relaxing and enjoyable way to provide for yourself and your family without ever touching a shopping cart or standing in long lines surrounded by people. Gardening day in and day out will have you feeling like you’re ready to ditch the system all together and become a fully fledged farmer… No?… Maybe that’s just me.

But believe me, the first time you pull a tomato off a vine you have tended to from seedling to fruiting bush, you will never look at grocery store tomatoes the same way again.

3. It’s fun to witness progress over a long period of time.

Having goals is an important aspect of feeling fulfilled as a human being. If you are looking for a hobby tied to something you love, how much better could you do than growing the things you love to eat?

I like to start the seeds I will plant in my raised beds a month-and-a-half or more before the last expected frost. For us in Maine, that happens in March or April, but for many of you, that may be as early as December or January! Depending on what I’m growing, the season can last all the way through late Autumn. You can tailor your crops to suit your climate and season as well.

That means with a traditional outdoor garden of any kind, you will have a hobby for more than half of the year. If, however, you opt to make a hydroponic system, you could have a hobby that lasts all year long.

For me, the experience of seeing seedlings sprouting has a magical quality to it. No matter how many times I see it happen, it always incites a sense of wonder and pride within me. I attribute this to some bit deep within an old segment of my brain that knows when it sees little green leaves, food cannot be far away. With every day that passes, and as I see my sprouts become larger and larger, I can look forward to seeing peppers, beans, and cucumbers form from the tiny buds covering the young plants.

4. It can be done anywhere.

Most of the apartments I’ve lived in have hardly had enough room for all our daily living essentials, and have averaged about seven-hundred square feet. Despite that, I’ve been able to grow some plants in each one. If I don’t have any outdoor space, I build a small herb garden with the cheapest hydroponic or soil setup I can pull together and reasonably execute in the space I have.

$Cha-ching$, that’s at least
$20 of basil just sitting for use in my small hydroponic setup (see links).

I’ve easily saved over $60 by growing basil in a system a lot like this one you can get on Amazon with this smaller light from Home Depot, which combined cost around $60.

Simple math quiz, what’s 60/60. That’s right: I’ve already made a return on my investment! LM had so much basil, we started making batches of basil pesto and freezing it. I would guess that basil is our favorite herb, but I’ve grown parsley and lettuce in the same small system too. Recently, we’ve been using it to start seeds rapidly that we then transfer to soil or the larger aeroponic system.

Some happy lettuce. No tricks here, they’re not even in front of a window.

This summer, I plan to grow basil, rosemary, and parsley in the small system, as well as bush beans, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in my larger aeroponic system.

Cherry Tomato from Aeroponic Setup

I’ll share more about that larger aeroponic setup in future posts. It’s in a tidy 2 x 4 x 5ft tent that could easily fit in a corner you have no use for. To some, it may seem like a pretty big box to just sit there in your home, but doesn’t everyone want a big box that generates food non-stop?

5. Planning gardens can scratch your artistic itch.

I hope I’ve given a lot of you a reason or two to start a garden, but for those looking for even more, please consider this: does art move you? Well then, gardening is your unexpected best friend! The art of vegetables, fruits, and herbs is everywhere. Next time you are at the grocery store take a look, and really take in all of the shapes and colors in the produce section. Having a raised bed where your current patch of dirt is, or herbs brightly cheering up a counter or windowsill you weren’t currently using will happily take the place of any trinket you were considering putting there anyway.

A Raised Bed Garden Plan

Mixing and matching colors is a huge part of gardening. Did you know there is purple basil? Yeah! There are so many colors shapes and sizes of things to grow you just have to start and see!

Keep growing, my buds!

Until next time, I’m Ryanponic. 🙂 Let me know if you try my garden tips, and if you do, I’d love to see pictures and know what you think!