06/25/2010 01:00 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Priceless Garden

Don't let anyone tell you that having your own vegetable garden saves time and money. It does neither.

Back breaking physical work, the expense of preparing the soil, planting, maintaining and harvesting is the costly cycle of having a garden. But what it does is provide a short season of pleasurable eating that is excellent for your health. Can you put a price on that?

I have had a vegetable garden for years. At this point, I can't imagine summer without one. My husband is the brains and brawn behind the layout, seeding and cultivating of the garden and I have learned a great deal about soil tests, composting and fertilizing from him. From the first day the seed catalogues arrive in January to the first spring day that the ground is tillable, we are busy coaxing seeds to sprout under grow lights in the basement and anticipating the day when we place them in the ground and wait to pick the first cool weather crops like lettuce, and crunchy radishes. As the weather warms, we add more plants to the garden: onions, eggplant, beans and kale.

As mid summer approaches we check the zucchini plants that seem to double in size when we are not looking and we wait impatiently for that first red tomato to appear. We have not eaten one since last September when we plucked the last one from the vine and ate it gingerly, cut into small pieces.

All summer long we weed, feed, and water while we are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Japanese beetles, slugs, and other pests bore holes in our plants; some die. We replant. Hail the size of golf balls batters tender lettuce leaves and endless days of rain causes blossom end rot on tomatoes.

Still we love the satisfaction that comes with picking your own home grown vegetables and it is such a nice feeling to march through the grocery store right past the produce aisle and say I need none of this. Priceless.