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 them out.
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Working a garden is good Exercise
Working in a garden is good exercise. Bending down to check on a seedling or stretching to pull a weed is a great way to move your body. Hauling 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 body.
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. Nature has a way of clearing our minds and allowing us time to think. 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!)
Recent Food Scares
Here lately, it seems like everyday 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, 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.
Homegrown food contains more nutrients
Another great reason to garden is that the food typically contains more nutrients that store-bought produce. When you grow your own food, it hasn’t been sitting on store shelves for days at a time. Over time, food loses nutritional value, so growing your own 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 tastes better
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/color
And since we mentioned varieties of vegetables, that is yet another reason you should grown your own garden. There are so many wonderful varieties of vegetables out there. If you only eat store bought ones, you’ll never know how delicious a Lemon Boy tomato or a Cocozelle zucchini can taste.
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 is your favorite.
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. They 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.) 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.