Why Growing Your Own Vegetables is Worth It

rocket seedlings

Rocket seedlings growing in an old recycling bin

The squirrels and I are at war and so far the squirrels are winning. I plant the seeds, they dig them up and either eat them or carry them off somewhere else in the garden and bury them. My role is to curse them and to patch up the mess they’ve caused and to wonder if this ‘Grow Your Own’ lark is worth it when it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle against the forces of nature.

oregano seedlings in a pot that has been dug in by a squirrel

The squirrel has been digging in the Oregano

The voice of reason (i.e. my partner) tells me that the squirrels are only doing what squirrels do. They don’t know that they’re messing up my precious bean and coriander planting. To them it’s food. In fact, with all the planting I’ve done recently, it’s a positive food festival bonanza for the squirrels in the back garden.

Growing Vegetables from Seed

This year I’ve planted lettuce and rocket, French beans, kale, beetroot, spring onions and pak choi all from seed. I also planted courgettes but there’s no sign of them yet so I suspect they got eaten by the squirrels.

And not forgetting the various herbs I’ve planted; oregano and mint, dill, fennel, thyme, chives and nasturtiums.

Dealing with the Forces of Nature

seedlings growing in pots on patio

The makeshift nursery on my patio

But it’s not only the squirrels waging war on my precious seedlings. There’re the pigeons, and their love for green leafy veg, to deal with too and the foxes that never miss an opportunity to dig a deep hole where it’s not needed. And that’s before we even get on to every gardener’s foe – the slugs and snails.

And then there’s the English weather. Last year we had to deal with drought followed by floods and this year all planting has been delayed by at least a month because of one of the longest and coldest Springs on record.

Gardening is Not for Wimps

Apart from my battles with nature there is also my body to consider. Let’s face it, gardening is not for wimps and it appears that despite my best efforts at regular gym attendance, I do still have the body of a wimp.

The physical rigours of digging the vegetable patch, carrying bags of compost and hours of endless weeding and planting have taken their toll and I am currently nursing a lower back spasm and a right arm and shoulder that I can barely move for the pain.

This has meant twice-weekly visits to the osteopath and sleepless nights due to pain, but I persevere. Whatever it takes, I am determined to grow my own vegetables and tend my garden.

Is Growing Your Own Vegetables Worth It?

By now, the question you’re probably asking is, is it worth it? After all, the hundreds of pounds I’m paying for osteopathic treatment comes to far more than any savings I would make by growing my own vegetables.

Why not pack it in, save myself some trouble and heartache and just buy all my veg from Tesco’s? Far easier, right?

And to that I would say, of course it’s worth it. And here’s why…

Why Growing Your Own Vegetables is Worth It

Experiencing Joy, Serenity and Flow

Because when I’m working in the garden I feel joy and serenity. I experience ‘flow’ in the sense that I lose track of time, hours fly by and I don’t even feel the need to stop for food or rest (highly unusual).

Gardening as Meditation

My partner always remarks on how happy I look when I’m working in the garden. I find gardening to be a form of meditation in the way it clears my mind. I forget my problems, tend not to think about anything, and just focus on the tasks at hand.

Getting Close to Nature

pak choi and kale seedlings

Pak choi and kale seedlings in the vegetable garden

I love the feeling of fresh compost between my fingers, the smell of the earth. I love watching the earthworms wriggle about in freshly turned soil and spotting the robin redbreasts hovering close by to catch them.

Creating Order out of Chaos

I love the satisfaction of weeding and digging and seeing how much better everything looks afterwards. The sense of order and control one gains from a newly weeded border is not to be sniffed at.

Witnessing the Miracle of Creation

french bean seedling

French bean seedling

Mostly, I love the thrill of watching a plant grow. Witnessing the miracle of creation as the seed I planted breaks through the soil with a single green shoot, then nurturing it as leaves appear and vegetables finally take shape, brings me incredible joy and satisfaction.

The Joy of the Harvest

And then there’s the harvesting and eating of something you have grown with your own hands and toil. I love the sense of creating something out of nothing, of being connected to nature and being self-sufficient in a small way.

A Treat for the Tastebuds

pink chive flowers in bloom

Chives in full bloom

Finally, there’s the taste of home grown vegetables. They are sweeter, tastier and more vibrant on the palate than anything shop bought. It’s a bit like rediscovering your taste buds and realising what all the fuss is about when it comes to fresh vegetables.

So, I will persevere with me aches and pains and the slugs and squirrels. I’ll arm myself with slug pellets and protective mesh and go out there and do whatever it takes to save my precious vegetables from harm.

Gardening is great for Mental Health

Because growing your own vegetables and tending a garden is definitely worth it. It may not always make sense financially, but the sense of mental wellbeing you can derive from it is priceless.

Do you grow your own veg? If so why? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to read about your experiences so please leave a comment in the box below.

Read my Tales from the Vegetable Patch 2012:
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 1 – Planning and Preparation
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 2 – Sowing Seeds
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 3 – Life and Death
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 4 – The First Harvest

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2 Responses to Why Growing Your Own Vegetables is Worth It

  1. Kathleen Towler June 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    I love the way you so accurately describe the highs and lows of growing your own veg. I find it distracting – I’m completely absorbed in whatever task it is, there’s no room for all those unimportant worries or niggles. I feel relaxed and happy in the garden.

    All gardeners feel completely dispirited when their lovely seedlings vanish (or don’t come up at all). Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks. You have to protect your bulbs/seeds/seedlings from the pesky squirrels, birds, mice – be that some netting, a cloche, a home made bird scarer. Once they get going, you’re usually OK, but if you don’t protect them, you are likely to lose a few. I find that each year you have different predators – last year it was a fox and this year I have my own pesky cat. What works one year, fails the next due to the different weather condiditons. You have to just go with the flow…celebrate your successes, learn from your failures and try something new.

    There are many old sayings about planting beans, and a famous one is “One for rook, one for crow, one to rot and one to grow” which from my experience is very accurate.

    • Angie Macdonald June 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing your very useful tricks and experience with us. Yes, good idea to learn to go with the flow, that’s something I want to get better at. I love the saying about planting beans – very apt.

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