FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Their reasons are simple. And, as for the work - it's even easier than one thinks.

That's what Yvette Sutton and Donna Lally will tell you when the topic of gardening sprouts up in conversation.

Both are residents of Rossell Loop Village and both are Coast Guard wives. Though, that's not all they have in common. Since coming to Belvoir, both have maintained vegetable gardens. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers adorn their backyards.

Sutton, who has lived on post since 2005, got into planting while on a previous visit to Boston. According to her, prices alone are a good enough reason to start your own garden.

"It's expensive going to the supermarket. With prices the way they are, it can be a huge savings to just do it yourself," Sutton said. "That's what I've done and I have a lot of fun doing it. You can't beat fresh vegetables, either."

In Sutton's opinion, it comes down to buying some pots and potting soil. She found some discounted pots at Fort Belvoir's Thrift Shop and, earlier this spring, took advantage of a plant sale at the installation's Home and Garden Center. There, she got what she needed and is now enjoying the fruits of her labor.

"I'm growing strawberries for the first time. I thought I'd give that a try and it seems to be working out," she said. "There's so many health benefits to having your own garden, too. At a supermarket, fruit and vegetables are usually not ripe. They also go through a lot of handling and packaging. With your own garden, you don't have that worry."

Everything is organic, fully ripened and all the vitamins there, Sutton said.

Like her friend, Lally saw how expensive a trip to the supermarket could be and decided to plant her own vegetables. She starts her garden from seeds and has branched out into the world of herbs.

"I have parsley, oregano and garlic. Everything has grown really well and I don't use any pesticides on my vegetables," Lally said. "The best advice I could give someone is to give it a try. It's not expensive and you can start out small. It's much healthier and can last a long time."
Like Sutton, Lally made a trip to the Thrift Shop and picked up some pots and rubbermaid tubs - which she uses to plant everything from watermelon to pumpkin seeds. She also uses the tubs to plant spaghetti squash, eggplant, and zucchini.

"For me, planting is a lot of fun. Our vegetable garden has also turned into a family project," Lally continued. "My husband, Joe, gets into it and is big into pumpkin carving. We planted seeds for that in May, so we should be good to go by the time Halloween starts rolling around."

Her daughter, Morgan, enters her senior year at Mount Vernon High School in the fall and is a member of the school's Ecology Club. She doesn't mind being counted on to help out in the backyard this summer, either.

"We know a lot of people who have vegetable gardens and everyone does it for pretty much the same reasons," Sutton said. "Price wise, you can't beat planting. The health benefits also outweigh anything you could buy in a store."