Monday night was my night to make pickles. My garden cup runneth over where cucumbers and dill are concerned, and my father-in-law had brought five pounds of beans over to me from his garden. As I was busy pickling, I started to do some mental math about how much money I was saving and the impact of my gardening activities on the planet. It all added up to a simple conclusion: gardening saves money and natural resources and – as an added bonus – provides me with the comfort of knowing where my food comes from and what has gone into its production (here’s a hint: just water…no chemicals).
In one evening, I pickled 10 quarts of beans and cukes. At $8 or $9 per PINT for gourmet pickles in the market, that’s over $150 in pickle value. And what did it cost to make? Less than a dollar each for the reusable canning jars, just a few dollars for vinegar and spices, and less than $3 each for packets of organic bean and cucumber seeds. And our bean and cucumber plants aren't nearly finished producing yet!
I can’t help but factor in the environmental impact of having my own organic garden. I didn’t have to burn any fossil fuel driving to the market to buy my pickles, and no fossil fuels were consumed in transporting the pickles to the store to be sold.
Even if you don’t have space for a full garden, consider planting an herb garden. Have you ever traveled to the market, purchased a bunch of parsley or cilantro or dill for a couple of dollars, used a fraction of it and then had to throw it out when it turned into a soupy mess at the bottom of your fridge? Now consider harvesting just the amount you need from your herb garden. Nothing goes to waste! Herbs like sage, tarragon, thyme, chives and rosemary are perennial in my region - so I can plant them once and keep on harvesting year after year!
I’m looking forward to harvesting some peppers, tomatoes, squash and eggplant this weekend, and snipping a few herbs for a nice ratatouille. And come Monday, I’ll be pickling another batch of beans and cucumbers – which I’ll put into storage for our family’s enjoyment all winter long.
Now that’s what I call Practical Sustainability!