by Brian Clarey
I’ve got a patch of earth in my backyard tucked into the southeast corner that was once intended to be a vegetable garden.
In the spring of 2009 I dug up the grass and tilled it with manure and sod, raked it into rows and planted seeds: tomatoes, peppers, maybe some cukes… I don’t really remember. Because after doing all that work on the front end, I pretty much forgot about my garden except to look at it guiltily as I cut the grass nearby. I think I got a couple tomatoes out of it before the weeds, bugs and rabbits took it over.
Let’s face it: Keeping a garden is a pain in the ass, unless you absolutely love it, which I apparently don’t.
I blamed it on the lawn, which took up every ounce of my tolerance for yardwork. But really, even if I had a full-time lawn crew to handle my yard, I likely wouldn’t be out in the garden on my knees. And that’s when it hit me.
People pay big bucks — $40 a pop and up — to have their lawns maintained, which serve no actual purpose other than to increase a home’s curb appeal and soak up water. Why not take that same cash and hire an actual gardener to plant the beds and bring in the crop every season?
It makes financial sense: A backyard garden can yield a summer’s worth of vegetables, which even at a farmers market can run a good $20 a week. Throw in the early- and late-fall crops, and you might even end up ahead of the game.
There was a time when every home had a garden out back, and while the expertise to tend them has been passed down in some families, others (like mine) passed down less essential skills like drinking and card-playing.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t all have fresh vegetables from our own backyards. Some of us just have to be willing to pay for it.
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