8 Surprising Benefits to Growing a Garden

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Do you ever wonder why you should bother growing a garden? It just seems so easy to go to the grocery store and pick out your produce there. But there are many reasons why gardening is good for you. Let’s check out the benefits of gardening.

Working In a Garden is Good Exercise

Working in a garden has some surprising health benefits. Gardening is good exercise. Bending down to check on a seedling or stretching to pull a weed is a great way to move your body and get some physical activity.

Hauling bags of mulch or wielding a pitchfork to layer the mulch on your gardening beds is probably as good as (or maybe even better than) lifting weights. Even just walking around checking out what’s growing is good for your physical health.

The physical exercise you get from gardening can result in lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Plus, digging in the dirt is said to be good for your immune system as you are exposed to various pathogens in the dirt. Kids who are allowed to get dirty when they are young tend to have fewer illnesses as they age.

an orange cosmos
An orange cosmos looks beautiful among the vegetables in a garden.

Gardening Can Be a Form of Therapy

For some, (though not all) gardening is a form of therapy. Out in nature among the plants and the bees can oftentimes provide a sense of peace.

The garden is a great place to think and to admire God’s beauty. You become more attuned to the weather and your surroundings.

Whether you tend a huge vegetable garden or just a few flowers, being outdoors is good for your body and soul. Nature has a way of clearing our minds and allowing us time to think.

Being outside in the fresh air surrounded by green space can have a positive impact on your mood. The sunshine can help raise your Vitamin D levels as well as your serotonin levels (the chemical your body produces to stabilize your mood.)

Gardening is a great way to reduce stress levels and anxiety levels. The garden is also a good place to think and ponder anything weighing on your mind.

I’ve solved many problems alone in my garden while pulling weeds and picking vegetables. Gardening is a great stress reliever! (And you get delicious food or pretty flowers too!) The mental health benefits of growing a garden shouldn’t be underestimated!

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Recent Food Scares

2 varieties of lettuce growing in the garden
Homegrown lettuce means that I don’t have to worry that it will make my family sick.

Here lately, it seems like every day there is a new food-borne illness announced on the news. From tainted Romaine lettuce to bad canned corn, there always seems to be a new food scare.

Growing your own food is one way to avoid some of these dangers. When you grow the food in your home garden, you know how it is handled from seed to your table. And that leads me right into my next point…

When You Grow it You Know Where it Comes From

By growing your own food, you know where it comes from. You know that it was watered with good water and that your hands were washed before you picked the food.

There is a sense of security in knowing that you can grow a portion of what your family eats.

And growing at least some of your own food doesn’t have to be that complicated. I’ve got a whole series of posts on gardening, starting with how to start your garden all the way through the easiest way to put up those extra tomatoes.

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Homegrown Food Contains More Nutrients

Another great reason to grow a garden is that homegrown food typically contains more nutrients than store-bought produce. When you grow your own fruits and vegetables they haven’t been sitting on store shelves for days at a time.

Over time, food loses nutritional value, so growing your own food and eating it shortly after picking, means you are getting more nutrients in your body.

Also on big agricultural farms, they often grow the same crop over and over in the same place. This depletes the soil of vital nutrients. Yes, they do try to add them back with fertilizer, but it isn’t quite the same.

When you garden you can practice crop rotation that allows you to minimize nutrient loss. There are even plants, such as beans, that put nutrients back into the soil.

And you can choose to add nutrients by adding mulch and organic matter like compost or chicken manure instead of synthetic chemicals.

Homegrown Just Tastes Better

a slicing tomato growing in the garden
Homegrown tomatoes just taste better than their store-bought counterparts. You can choose to grow tomato varieties that have better flavor than ones that are bred to keep longer on store shelves.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old timers say they garden because “it just tastes better.” And there is a lot of truth in that statement.

Tomatoes grown for a supermarket are grown to be round, uniform, and about the same size. The tomatoes are picked before they are fully ripe so they must be sprayed with ethylene gas to help them ripen.

Veggies destined for the grocery store have to also be able to withstand traveling hundreds possibly thousands of miles.

These vegetables are bred to be firmer and hold up longer during storage so that they can make the trip from a field to the store. But they aren’t always the best-tasting varieties.

Have you ever had a crunchy strawberry from the store? You won’t if you grow your own.

And I can tell you…No strawberry will ever taste sweeter than one you just picked in the warm summer garden while juice drips down your chin. You can’t buy a strawberry like that anywhere.

Grow a Special Variety or Color

And since we mentioned varieties of vegetables, that is yet another reason you should grow your own garden. There are so many wonderful varieties of vegetables out there that you may have never seen before in your supermarket.

If you only eat store-bought vegetables, you’ll never know how delicious a Lemon Boy tomato or a Cocozelle zucchini can taste. What about purple cauliflower or red carrots?

a head of purple cauliflower
You can’t find purple cauliflower at your local grocery store!

Oh sure, you might say. I’ll just pick them up from the local farmer’s market.

I’m all for supporting your local farmer’s market, however, what if they suddenly don’t grow your favorite variety anymore? If it’s out back in your garden, you can have whatever variety your heart desires.

And some vegetables like fresh sugar peas start turning to starch so quickly, it’s impossible to understand how delicious they can be unless you grow your own.

My middle boy has some texture issues when eating, so he can’t eat beans or peas. However, he will stand in the garden and almost make himself sick eating raw peas straight from the vine.

And if he ruins his supper eating vegetables from the garden? Well…I really don’t care!

Growing a Garden is a Learning Experience for the Kids

Gardening is a great learning experience for the kids. It helps them understand how hard farmers work to produce food.

They start to realize the effort involved in growing an apple for them to eat. It takes time and patience to grow food and there are many things that a farmer or gardener can’t always control such as weather and insect damage.

Recently, I have been saddened by the number of kids who have no idea what certain vegetables look like or how they are grown.

a boy planting in a grow bag

Kids don’t seem to know that carrots grow in the ground and corn grows on stalks. We are truly doing a disservice to our children if we do not at least teach them the basics of how to garden.

Tending even a small container of vegetables allows children to get their hands dirty and experience the thrill of producing something they can eat. As a result, kids will usually at least taste the vegetables they grow, so growing a garden helps kids eat healthier too.

Planting seeds and potting up plants is a great way for young kids to develop fine motor skills too. Watching plants grow and being able to harvest food they planted causes children to have a sense of accomplishment.

And gardening is an activity that can span the generations. Grandparents, parents, and kids of all ages can work together toward a common goal promoting a sense of pride for all.

Excuses, Excuses

I know we’ve all heard them before – the excuses of why you can’t grow a garden. But I’m here to put them all to rest. Below are the common excuses I’ve heard of why you can’t grow a garden and why I think you can anyway.

But I Don’t Have Time to Garden

Gardening can be time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m not asking you to grow ALL your own food. I’m just asking you to consider growing SOMETHING.

If you had a 4′ x 4′ square foot garden out back with some lettuce, a tomato plant, and a cucumber, you have the makings of a delicious salad. You might not have to run to the store to pick up that one missing ingredient for dinner.

Tending a small 4′ x 4′ garden bed will probably take you less than 15 minutes a week. And most people could find 15 minutes of free time by just putting away their phones and not scrolling social media.

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I Don’t Have Any Land

While land can be helpful, you can still have a successful garden in a modest space or just a few containers. If you have a small balcony you can grow lettuce even in the shade.

If you have room for a 4′ x 12′ garden plan, you would be surprised how much food you can grow in a limited space. Check out my garden plan to see what you can grow.

As a last resort, you can grow some food indoors. My mom bought me one of these AeroGarden’s years ago, and I have grown quite a bit of lettuce and some tomatoes indoors in the dead of winter.

It was a fun project to see how hydroponics works and it produced some extremely tasty lettuce, a variety of herbs, and some cherry tomatoes.

Funny story: My Mom and I always have a competition to see who can harvest the first tomato of the year. She beats me every year.

EXCEPT for the one year I grew tomatoes in my AeroGarden. I was able to harvest one in February and she had to wait until May for her first one!

So Why Garden?

With so many benefits to gardening, there really aren’t many reasons you shouldn’t grow at least something. Regular gardening has not only physical benefits, but can improve your mental well-being as well.

And you get fresh vegetables to eat that can contribute to a healthy diet.

If you don’t normally garden, pick one vegetable to grow in a container this year. (Hint: lettuce or a cherry tomato plant are easy ones to start with.) Growing one or two plants doesn’t take much time, and who knows…it may improve your quality of life and help you eat healthier too.

And if you have questions, be sure to ask in the comments below. I love helping others learn to grow their own food.

Are you a regular gardener or have you thought about taking the plunge this year? I would love to know where you are in your gardening journey.

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