How gardening can save you money
How can you get healthier, happier, and save money on bills at the same time? The answer, it seems, is to take up gardening. Studies show that just half an hour spent working in your garden every day can do wonders for your stress levels and your heart – but, best of all for recession-strapped households, it can help to transform your spending patterns.
Plenty of people are already catching onto this trend. Queues for allotments in the UK are at an all-time high, 'grow your own' advertising has reached what feels like wartime levels, and sales of plants and seeds are rising steeply. Cucumber frames, greenhouses and potting sheds are springing up around the country.
But is this simply another national fad? Is it really possible to save money through growing your own, or will you end up spending a fortune on seeds only to find that the slugs profit more from your veggie patch than you do?
The answer is that it depends on your commitment levels. Research does appear to show that people who grow their own vegetables do save money on their weekly shop – in the States, where Michelle Obama has made gardening fashionable, a study found that the average family with a vegetable garden spends approximately £42 per year on it and grows an estimated £367 worth of vegetables.
Of course, if you're a vegetable garden virgin then your initial investment is likely to outweigh the money you save in the first year. You'll need tools and equipment, plus it might be necessary to pay somebody to prepare the ground for you if you lack the time or inclination.
In addition to the initial outlay, you will also need to account for a certain amount of time spent tending your garden throughout the year. Vegetables require patience, commitment and occasionally backbreaking work, so this certainly isn't a project to be undertaken by the faint-hearted.
On the other hand, if you're prepared to put in the time then gardening can be endlessly rewarding. A small investment could be more than tripled in the course of a year, even if you're not an experienced gardener – and, at the moment, that's more than you'll get from stock-market speculation.