When we speak of gardening, we often think about the art of nurturing plants, the joy of watching them grow, and the satisfaction of harvesting what we have sown. But gardening is not just about growth, it’s also about continuous learning and improvement. As gardeners, we must always be open to rethinking and repurposing what we have, even if it means letting go of something we’ve invested time and resources into. This is where the theory of sunk cost comes into play.
The sunk cost fallacy is an economic theory that deals with the costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered. In simpler terms, these are the investments of time, money, and resources that you’ve poured into a project, which cannot be retrieved. Often, we become so attached to these costs that we fail to make rational decisions for the future, holding on to things that no longer serve their purpose efficiently.
In the realm of gardening, understanding and overcoming the sunk cost fallacy can be a powerful tool. It allows us to look at our gardens not just as a product of our past efforts, but as a dynamic space that can adapt and evolve based on our future needs.
This concept recently guided a significant transformation in my garden. I had a wicking bed that, while quite effective and beneficial, had started to take up space that could be used for other things. For those who are unfamiliar, a wicking bed is a self-watering system that uses capillary action to water plants from below, promoting healthier root systems and conserving water. It’s a fantastic addition to any garden, but in my case, I needed the area for new purposes and it was time for it to go. You can learn more about the construction of the wicking bed here
Rather than just discarding the wicking bed, I decided to upcycle it – to transform it into something that would serve a new purpose in my garden. I dismantled the bed and repurposed the materials to build a new, massive corner wall behind my compost tumbler. This not only gave me the additional space I needed, but it also allowed me to make better use of the materials I had on hand.
The transition from the wicking bed to the corner wall behind my compost tumbler was a clear demonstration of overcoming the sunk cost fallacy. Even though I had invested time and resources into the wicking bed, I understood that its value was not in what I had spent, but in how it could serve me in the future.
Reusing and upcycling are fundamental principles of sustainable gardening. They allow us to minimize waste, save resources, and get creative with what we have. So, whether it’s turning an old ladder into a vertical garden, using broken pots to create beautiful garden art, or transforming a wicking bed into a corner wall, there are countless ways to rethink and repurpose in our gardens.
In conclusion, as we journey through the seasons, remember that the garden is not a static entity but a dynamic, evolving space. It reflects not only the time and effort we’ve sunk into it, but also our capacity to adapt, rethink, and transform. So let’s continue to learn, improve, and practice the art of letting go when needed. Remember, the best garden is not just a product of the past, but a vision of the future.