Free Food Grown in Your Own Backyard
How do you get free food in retirement? You can always visit Costco for a variety of free samples, the hardware store for a bag of popcorn, or the bank for complimentary coffee and cookies.
Seriously though, if you want free nutritious food that will benefit you all year, you need to plant a vegetable garden.
A vegetable garden is an important element for retirees on a budget or those desiring a self-reliant and healthy lifestyle. No green thumb is required to start a small garden plot in your backyard or to arrange a few pots of herbs or tomatoes on your patio.
Carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, peas, green beans, and onions are just a few of the easy to grow vegetables that store well, or can be preserved for longer shelf-life through pressure canning or freezing. (You may like my article on what to do if you have too many cucumbers.)
If you’ve never had a vegetable garden, you may think it’s not worth it. It costs money to buy seeds, starter plants, soil, and garden implements. It’s hard work, requiring digging and weeding – often in hot, scorching sunshine; not to mention the fact that grocery stores carry just about any vegetable imaginable.
For the small initial investment you’ll make to start a humble garden, you will have free food for an entire growing season, if not longer.
Once you discover the benefits of vegetable gardening, you will be hooked!
How will planting a vegetable garden benefit you in retirement?
In addition to having a lot of free nutritious food, you’ll reap other rewards from vegetable gardening as well.
Let’s take a look at what those are.
Lots of us cringe at the thought of what goes on with our food before it gets to market. When you are the gardener, you are in control. You make the decision whether or not to spray pesticides on your crops. Plant heirloom seeds that are not genetically modified and know that the vegetables you grow are safe and healthful.
2. Better Health
It’s well known that vegetables are good for us and boost our immune systems. And it makes sense that gardeners eat more vegetables than non-gardeners. It doesn’t matter at what age you start a vegetable garden, studies indicate that your veggie consumption will increase. Therefore, retirement is just as good a time as any to plant a garden and reap the benefits of better health from eating fresh vegetables.
3. Save Money
Most retirees are on a budget and looking for ways to save money. However, many of us prefer to buy organic produce, even though it costs more. When you plant an organic vegetable garden, you reap what you sow in nutritious vegetables, and enjoy organic produce at a fraction of the costs. What you save in the organic produce department, you can put into other foodstuffs or household supplies.
4. Good Exercise
Don’t be sedentary. One of the things you lose when you age is flexibility and strength. I am not going to kid you, tending a vegetable garden can be a lot of hard work, but the workout you get from it will help maintain your mobility and muscle strength. Also, digging in the dirt is good exercise for your hands.
I like this quote, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes”. I’ve always known that gardening of any kind is beneficial to improving one’s mood. Being in a garden setting has a therapeutic effect. Fresh air and sunshine takes your mind off of your worries and relieves stress. Plus, there’s an extra bonus to digging in the mud! A study by PubMed.gov concluded that physical activity, especially daily gardening, could lower the risk of dementia by 36%! That alone is a great motivator to pick up a shovel!
Instead of simply focusing on building wealth, as most retirement strategies do, self-reliance is about living abundantly. Although, it’s not about the money. If your extravagant lifestyle is no longer affordable or satisfying, planting a vegetable garden and growing your own food can be a rewarding experience. It can be the first step toward independence and lowering your expenses.
Vegetable Garden Must-Haves
As Rebel Retirees, we’ve had an organic vegetable garden for the last 5 years. I’ve discovered a few garden essentials that you don’t want to be without. Here’s what I recommend.
- Garden Hose Nozzle – Don’t be cheap when it comes to a spray nozzle. It makes watering your garden fun, easy, and efficient.
- Garden hod – or some type of container with large holes or spaces in the bottom for harvesting your vegetables. A garden hod makes it easy to transport larger amounts of vegetables. In addition, you can hose off the dirt right in the container before bringing your harvest indoors.
- Wiggle-Weeder – or Hula Hoe is easy to use. It grabs the weeds by the roots and is an absolute must for keeping your garden weed free.
- Garden gloves – I didn’t always wear garden gloves. However, they prevent blisters when shoveling and wiggle-weeding. They also keep dirt from getting underneath my fingernails.
A Few Closing Thoughts
A vegetable garden not only produces food that is more nutritious and flavorful, it supplements a retiree’s food budget as well. Staying fit in body and mind should be a priority, and vegetable gardening is one of the ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Product Recommendation: Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening has been the go-to resource for gardeners for more than 50 years—and the best tool novices can buy to start applying organic methods to their fruit and vegetable crops.
Do you have a vegetable garden? We would love to hear your tips for success!