The Benefits of Planting a Vegetable Garden

1 Jun

I am finally in a location where I can have a vegetable garden – oh boy am I excited. There are various benefits of planting a vegetable Garden that I would like to share with you. But first I want to share some thoughts on why choosing your vegetables carefully is important.

Garden after Planting

Garden after Planting

My initial thoughts when deciding on vegetables was to pick items that I love to eat and then I moved into the healthy choice vegatables to maximize my return. But as I sat and thought about it (and humbled myself to my 83 year old landlord, who has been planting his whole life), I realized that it was about planting a vegetable garden that will grow with the biggest bounty. It is also important to figure out how to utilize the space effectively. I can buy vegetables fresh at the markets that are plentiful and inexpensive.

I decided to pick a few of my favorites. For me, I love zuchinni and tomotoes, so I had to have lots of them in place. I have 12 beefsteak, 8 cherry and 4 plum tomoto plants. Zuchinni is hearty so I should get plenty out of my 7 plants. Since the garden is next to a fence, I planted snow peas, so they can weave up the fence.

A few of the herbs

Herbs for Cooking

I then planted 5 rows about 4 feet wide of lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, beets and similar items. I threw in some experiments with strawberries, gladiolas (flowers are delicious and edible) and then added some herbs including cillantro, basil, parsley, fennel, dill and mint. Chives and onions also exist around the parameter of the garden. These ward off slugs and insects.

Reduce Waste with Compost

We also used a mulch from the compost we make. This compost is rich and we know it is good from the quality of food we eat that goes into it. Almost everything in our house gets recycled and composting is one fo the best ways to reduce garbage to almost nothing, about one small bag every two weeks. Reducing consumption is another way…buy less, buy with less packaging, bring your own bags, buy fresh produce (and forget about putting them in a plastic bag or bring your own). Some simple steps.

So what are the benefits of planting a vegetable garden?

Well, apart from the obvious of getting fresh vegetables here’s the true value of a veggie garden:

  1. The food is fresh and you know the source is chemical free
  2. The quality of the food – straight from the garden to your mouth
  3. The distance the food travels – distance to travel is almost nil, except for travel to get plants
  4. Investment offers good return – $50 worth of plants should save 4 to 10 times the cost ($2-500)
  5. Constant care is not necessary, some weeding and watering every few days if the weather is dry will only take a few hours of time.
  6. Time spent per week is less than a couple hours and the fresh air and exercise is good for you
  7. Veggies can be jarred, frozen and made into sauces, preserves and various goodies to last the winter and act as gifts
  8. Gardening is about growth and the personal growth from the success is very rewarding

Those are just some of the many benefits. I’m sure with a bit of effort we can find a lot more. I encourage you to comment with some of the benefits of planting a vegetable garden can offer and let me know about your success. I will post some pictures as the garden grows and at season end discuss the harvest and successes of this years project. It may be June but it’s not too late to start a garden….go, go, before it’s too late. You will thank me later.

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18 Responses to The Benefits of Planting a Vegetable Garden


Alison Kerr

June 1st, 2009 at 8:20 am

I love that the food I grow is 100% fresh – it goes straight from the garden to my cooking pot, or to my mouth 🙂 There is also less waste – I pick only as many green onions as I need for instance. My garden also gets me outside every single day, keeping me in touch with the land, nature and the seasons.


Garden Gnome Wanderings

June 1st, 2009 at 9:34 am

It sounds like you are off to a good start! Be careful with fennel as it is not a good companion plant and does not play nice with other plants. It is better planted by itself. Mint can be quite invasive as well. You might be interested in square foot gardening to maximize yield in smaller gardens.

gardengnome1 on twitter



June 1st, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Alison…thank you for your input. Fresh from earth to mouth is nice and there is definitely limited waste. The weather in Toronto has been hard to enjoy this season but we need the rain.

My little gnome…you participate on twitter and thank you for commenting on my blog. I was not aware that fennel didn’t “play nice” but it is in a separate area with flowers, so it should be okay. I am looking forward to using the buds for cooking, especially with fish. I will make a fancy dish with the whole root at the end of season.

The mint is in a contained pot for the very reason you mention, although being overrun with mint is alright if you put it in a secluded part of the garden. It’s so easy to maintain. I’m looking forward to mint tea.

I’ll have a look at the “square foot gardening” idea. My garden is fairly large probably over 100 sq ft, so the yield should be nice. Time will tell.

It certainly is nice to get out in the garden and I’m really excited watching it flourish and grow. Now if only I could keep my indoor plants healthy…I’ve brought em outside to enjoy the errant summer sun.


Susan Catt

June 3rd, 2009 at 1:29 am

I’m enjoying your gardening adventure Stephen. I wont be growing a garden this year. Next year though I hope to be very invovled with growing sustainable edibles. I’m also very interested in aquaponics and may try to set up a system next spring. Or later when I have a year round green house.

I agree with the fresh from garden to mouth… cant get more nutritious than that. Energetically the food is vibrant and that vibrancy passes on to our bodies. Excenllent!




June 3rd, 2009 at 4:45 am

Hi Stephen. I’m jealous! 🙂 I grew up on a farm and we had two huge gardens. It was satisfying eating home-grown food. And delicious too. I’ve tried growing tomatoes on my balcony and it went well, until I moved to the north side. And now I can’t even grow flowers without them attracting bugs.

You might be interested in reading “edible Vancouver” magazine. You can download issues (free) from their website at Their spring 09 issue has an article in it called “Less Lawn, More Lasagna”. This article explains how you can grow a garden on your front or back lawn without having to dig up your lawn. Imagine that!



June 4th, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Thanks for the post. My family and I decide to create a sanctuary garden as a way to feed our bodies and our souls. I get great joy watching my 3 old pick a cherry tomato right off the plant and eat it.



June 4th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Susan…I’m sorry that you won’t get a chance to plant a garden this year, but you have a whole new adventure. When I was in the Yukon a couple summers ago, I learned about the joy of eating edible flowers and plants and picking mushrooms. Hoping to go picking this summer.

Davina…interesting magazine. There are a variety of ways to grow gardens on balconies, including hanging bags with soil for tomatoes and other small veggies. Herbs can also work well. Have you looked at a community garden plot? If you are in Vancouver, at least you have lovely gardens and nature to enjoy…not as much here in Toronto.

Hugh…I’m glad your 3 year old is getting an early start enjoying gardening and eating fresh veggies. The pleasure of marrying nature and children is a blessing. Thank you for visiting.


Barb Bertsch

June 5th, 2009 at 8:26 am

Your post on your garden was fun to read. We also have a garden here in Oregon. I credit our garden with my boys love of vegetables. It is great to have a fresh selection right out your door. Don’t forget to stagger when you plant your lettuces or they will all be ready at once. We plant a couple feet each week so that we have it for the summer. 7 zucchini plants! You must really love it. I do, but two or three plants works for our family of four. Keep upp the good posts and I’ll return.


Cathy Payne

June 5th, 2009 at 8:51 am

Hi, Stephen. Glad I found you on twitter. Looks like you have a good start on your garden. The rich compost should really help! We started a square foot garden this year to maximize space and minimize work. A lot of effort up front, but easier to maintain year round. Also easy to cover and protect from critters. Last year I lost 70% of my produce to rabbits and I won’t do that again! We have a chicken wire cage around the most tempting greens that lifts right off as needed. Have you tried worm castings or worm tea as fertilizer? We have Podcasts on our website on vemiculture and square foot gardening. I think both were in April. You can also find them on iTunes.



June 5th, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Barb…I’m glad you liked the post. The garden will be a learning curve for me so I’ve probably made a few mistakes…but I just want it to be fun. So far so good. I will stagger picking the leafy greens and will probably share some of them. I know I went overboard with the zuchinni but, I do love em.

Cathy…twitter is great and yes, my garden seems to be flourishing. The rabbits seem to be staying away so far. Will cover them if it becomes an issue. Will probably be more Thoreau like in my style of planting…just let it grow au naturel. I will have a look at your podcasts, thank you.



June 27th, 2009 at 3:06 am

Last year’s garden, for us, was decimated by squirrels. The moment any of the tender shoots would break ground, the squirrels would race through and devour the lot. This year I hope to outsmart them by starting the seeds indoors. We are a little late, but have mild enough fall/winter that we’ll be ok. I am really looking forward to getting our starts in the ground. it should be quite rewarding this year.

PS- I loved #8 – “Gardening is about growth and . . . is very rewarding.”


Cathy Payne

July 1st, 2009 at 7:44 am

Besides the cage described earlier, I got a large bag of hair clippings from my hair dresser and put them around all our plants. Before we planted our garden we had rabbits in the area every day, and we have lots of squirrels at the bird feeder. However, the hair seems to be keeping both away from the veggies, even the uncaged ones.



July 1st, 2009 at 9:45 am

Jeremy…I appreciate the squirrel comment. The squirrels & birds have walked away with may cherries but so far no veggies. I had the “perfect strawberry” and on the day I was going to pick it a raccoon plucked it out from under my nose…I call her Amy, so I hope she enjoyed it.

You have a lot of growth in your life at the moment, so the garden will be a good reminder and a helpful way to keep healthy and control your budget…good timing. May you have an abundant season.

Cathy…I like the idea of the cage, the rabbits for some reason have stayed away, though I saw one across the street yesterday. I may design a cage for the lettuce and strawberries next year and noticed Nancy at Zen Bird Feeder had some good solutions – which I may try in the future too.

The concept of the hair is interesting. Is it the smell that keeps them away. I wonder if cayenne would have the same effect?


Cathy Payne

July 1st, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I think the smell of hair makes them think a human is in the vicinity. It did attract flies, though!


Garden Gnome Wanderings

July 1st, 2009 at 5:18 pm

In my previous square foot garden grown in raised beds I dealt with a couple of persistent rabbits so those adventures are documented in my blog during 2006 entries. In fact I even did one dedicated just to rabbits and how these rabbits seriously were ruling the roost. One is rather humorous 🙂 When we first pulled in the driveway here a rabbit ran across in front of the car. My feeling is despite everything I’ve tried (cayenne pepper, cayenne pepper spray, motion activated sprayer, music) nothing is as effective as a barrier. The barrier can be living as in planting tulips that rabbits love in clumps of day lilies that rabbits hate. Our new raised beds are just going in sheltered by the garage on one end and a privacy fence on one side. Once the beds are all in I’m running low level fencing from the garage on the other side and to the privacy fence on the other end. The beauty is a low level fence need not be any taller than 30 – inches to keep rabbits out and can be planted with vining plants including edibles.

Now rabbits didn’t bother my strawberries ever. I’m not sure why. They don’t bother most herbs other than parsley and even that seems to be confined to the curly leaf variety. They don’t like marigolds so I like planting marigolds around the edges of my garden.

Depending on the seed in your birdfeeder, you may increase your rabbit problem. I found some great folding tomato cages that can be chained together if opened to form temporary fencing if you tie chicken wire to it. You could even just tie fishing line to it although that isn’t as environmentally friendly. There’s a picture of them on yesterday’s blog post.


simply stephen

July 2nd, 2009 at 8:36 am

Cathy…I figured it was the human smell. Wonder if it works for raccoons, they get the grapes – just when they ripen.

Garden Gnome…a few humorous posts and very informative. Speaking of posts, I use them (two in an upside down V for two tomato plants) instead of cages for Tomatoes and simply tie the tomatoes up. It’s easy to manage and get to the plants.

Update…so far the garden is thriving, though my 83 year old landlord (who lives here for half the year) ate or gave away all my leafy lettuce. Since I’m quite indifferent to lettuce, that was the kind I prefer so it was a great way to get me to eat it! Fortunately, I can plant more and the swiss chard is doing fine! At least they enjoyed it and he’s away for the rest of the summer.


Cathy Payne

July 2nd, 2009 at 8:55 am

We have raccoons at our bird feeders above the garden, but they don’t seem to bother the veggies. No grapes here, though. I used to have a pet raccoon, Rocky, who knew exactly where we kept the grapes in our refrigerator. Definitely a favorite treat!

BTW, how do I import a photo to show when I leave a comment?


Vegetable Garden Harvest Update | simply stephen

September 25th, 2009 at 8:08 am

[…] has arrived, so I think it’s fitting to do an update on my wonderful vegetable garden experiment and the harvest this year. The garden was an experiment in simplicity. I wanted to plant and […]

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