The most obvious benefit of vegetable gardening is the harvest. Frugality is one of the most common reason for wanting to garden. Seed packets, seedlings, and supplies are often much cheaper to buy than whole produce.
Gardening does not have to be all about vegetables and food. I grow many ornamental plants. Like produce, flowers are very expensive if bought already cut and arranged. I have used garden flowers to make indoor arrangements and even frugal gifts.
Of course, frugality must consider the value of a person’s time. Gardening does take some time. But I find many people overestimate the amount of time gardening really takes. Many plants do not require daily work to produce a good harvest. Even watering is only a few minutes a few days per week. I work a full-time job and have an active social life. I still have time for a day or so of gardening in a week.
There are other costs to consider on top of time and seeds. Of course, many of us have to pay for water. This expense can be reduced by using underground ollas to provide water to the roots or rain barrels to catch rain water for later use. Fertilizer and potting soil costs can add up too. However, this can be reduced by home composting kitchen waste for fertilizer.
The produce you grow yourself will very likely be the freshest you have ever eaten. The entire travel time from the backyard to the kitchen is about 5 minutes for me. Even buying local will not give you travel times this short. Of course, I find that fresher tastes better.
Gardening gives me a practical reason to get up and move around. Not every task will be heavy work like building raised beds or new flower beds. But the basic maintenance of a garden can provide a good deal of exercise without the gym membership fees. Even the simple task of pulling some weeds will exercise the legs and back. Then there is raking and mowing and harvesting that all involve standing, stooping, and lifting. This is all done outside in the sun and sometimes the heat or cold. After many years of gardening I find I do not need a gym membership anymore. And who needs hot yoga when you have outdoor work to get done in 90-degree heat?
You meet the neighbors
I met nearly all my neighbors for the first time while doing yardwork. And if you really think about it, when else do you have the opportunity to even see each other, let alone strike up a conversation? It is common in our modern society to live in a house for many years and never cross paths with the people next door to you. It has become normal to stay inside watch TV and ignore the world outside and all the people in it.
Many neighbors we met while we were each working on our own yard work. This provided a good foundation for building relationships that have lasted years. I am not by any means a “prepper” but there are advantages to knowing the people who live in your area. One of these is the increased security of knowing your closest neighbors.
Improves curb appeal
Gardening is one of the simplest ways to add curb appeal and improve your property value. We purchased the eyesore of the block. There had been nearly no yard maintenance for at least a year prior to us moving in. One of the first tasks was to simply clean up the yard.
Better curb appeal is all about presentation and will affect the property value. A house with a well-maintained yard is going to look better than the same house with an overgrown yard of tall weeds. People partially value things based on how others act about that thing. If someone values a place enough to clean it up and make it look the best it can, others will value it higher as well.
Gardening can increase the property value of other houses around yours. Please see the previous point about relationships with the neighbors. We met a few neighbors who came out just to thank us for cleaning up the front yard. They knew that our efforts made the whole block and their homes look a bit better. In addition, the bandwagon effect caused some neighbors to start giving more attention to their own yards.