Gardening is not all perfect roses and red ripe tomatoes; it has its distinct disadvantages, as well. While gardening magazines tout the health benefits of home-grown produce and the exercise advantages of fresh air, sunshine and double-digging garden beds, there are also sunburn, poison ivy and raspberry thorns to contend with. Most importantly, if you don't love gardening, the time and work it requires will not be worth the trouble.
As Sandra Mason writes for the University of Illinois Extension, it is certain that gardeners' daffodils bloom in April, but their backs ache in May. Digging, lifting, weeding, hauling wheelbarrows and prying out rocks create blisters and sore muscles. If you have strength or health difficulties such as a bad back or tricky knees, growing your own vegetables can exacerbate the problem, leading to pain or serious injury. The University of Vermont Extension also warns of dangers of eye injury from spraying soil or snapping branches.
Bugs, Snakes and Creatures
Plants and dirt are full of insects and snakes. The University of Vermont Extension advises that vegetable gardening can entail bites from mosquitoes, ticks and ants as well as stings from bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets--not to mention the prospect of bugs getting in your ears. Spiders also lurk in vegetation, and some spider bites, such as those of the brown recluse, can present a considerable danger to health. Most garden snakes are helpful, nonviolent creatures, but in some regions the cool shade of squash or eggplant leaves shelters poisonous serpents. The disadvantages of encounters with bugs and snakes in the vegetable garden can range from mere inconvenience and irritation to severe allergic reaction.
Gardens may also attract woodchucks, deer, mice and other creatures looking to eat produce or burrow in fresh mulch or compost. In urban areas, this can lead to neighbor's complaints or health code violations. It may also require taking extreme steps--hiring an exterminator, laying traps or setting out poison--to control unwanted animal visitors.
Time and Money
Selecting seeds or plants, building raised beds, digging in compost, weeding, pruning, watering and harvesting all take time. Shovels, seed trays, potting soil, fertilizer, hoses and sprinklers all cost money. New York Times writer Michael Tortorello attempted to keep meticulous track of his first garden's costs and benefits; from March to July of 2009 he expended nearly 50 hours and nearly $1,000 in out-of-pocket cash, and reported that he still had no idea what the garden was worth in terms of output. Time and money spent on growing your own vegetables will vary widely depending on experience, size of the garden and the gardener's desire for tools and "toys," but gardening will always involve a cost. If you love gardening, the time spent on it will seem a benefit, but if you don't like it--or if your time is committed elsewhere, such as work, traveling or attending to necessary family responsibilities--time spent gardening will be nothing but an unnecessary chore.