5 Very Good Reasons To Grow A Garden

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Gardening is one of the most gratifying hobbies you can take up once the growing season starts. Whether you have a backyard where you can carve out a garden plot or you’re working with less space, such as a balcony or nothing more than a windowsill begging for some fresh herbs, you can still get in on the fun of gardening. 

Here are five very good reasons to get your hands dirty and sow some seeds for the future. Don’t worry if you’re all thumbs when it comes to gardening, with these starter tips and your motivation to grow your own food, you’ll have green thumbs in no time! 

  1. Getting your hands dirty will make you happier 

Let’s skip right to the good stuff. Why do we do anything, really? To be happier, of course! 

And this may come as a surprise, but there are decades of scientific research that shows that gardening is excellent for mental health. 

In one meta analysis—which is just a fancy term for a statistical examination of many studies around a specific topic—gardening was proven to have a substantial positive effect on various aspects of health. 22 studies were included in this particular analysis and found that among those who garden, anxiety and depression rates were lower, body mass index dropped, and there was an impressive uptick in quality of life, life satisfaction, and a sense of community. 

In another study, gardening was associated with improved cognitive function and mental well-being. There is further evidence that shows that just the physical act of digging in the dirt can lead to heightened happiness. Scientists say that a bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil triggers a serotonin response. 

  1. You’ll eat more fruits and veggies

If you’re looking for ways to sneak more fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies into your diet, gardening is definitely for you. Not only is it exciting to plant something and watch it grow, but little ones that are involved in the process are much more likely to want to sink their teeth into a juicy red tomato or happily snack on a plate of crunchy cucumbers if they are involved with growing and nurturing it. The same is true for adults. There’s a certain pride that comes with growing and savoring your own home-grown food. You’ll also be less likely to waste it.

The sad truth is that approximately half of the produce grown in the US winds up in landfills every year. When you grow your own, you’re less likely to overshop and you’ll only harvest what you need. Plus, you can always go back for more. And because you’ve seen it through from seed to plant, you’re much more likely to finish your plate, or save it for later. 

  1. It’s better for the planet 

There are many ways that growing a garden helps the planet and one of the biggest is that eating from your backyard—compared to food that travels long distances to get to your market—reduces your carbon footprint and helps global warming. 

Most of the food you buy at the supermarket travels an estimated 1,500 miles before it winds up on your table. This is bad news for a few reasons…

1.) It drives up the need for fossil fuel. 

2.) It generates a lot of carbon dioxide emissions. 

3. Far-traveling produce is also harvested before it’s fully ripe and then gassed to ripen once it arrives at its destination, stunting its natural growth and effectively cheating it out of reaching its full nutrient potential.

Homegrown gardens are also great for our pollinators, which play a vital role in our food system. Even if your garden is the edible kind, you can intersperse planting veggies with marigold flowers throughout to help keep pests out and welcome much-needed pollinators. Marigolds produce pollen that attracts bumblebees and other pollinators. This is extremely important since pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat every single day. These flowers do double-duty service and therefore make a great addition to your garden.

Another fun way gardens help the planet is this lesser-known fact: Rooftop gardens have the ability to reduce heat islands. Green rooftops provide shade, cool building roofs, and help to remove heat from the air around it, which all have a positive effect on heat islands. Heat islands are bad for the environment because the heat pockets in the air promote air pollution. If you have a rooftop space, consider transforming it into a lush rooftop garden and be an eco-warrior at the same time. 

  1. You’ll save money 

We probably don’t have to tell you that food prices have skyrocketed in the last year. In fact, they’ve jumped 11.5 percent from May 2021 to May 2022, with an expected 8.5 to 9.5 increase in 2022 alone. For comparison sake, in 2000, food prices went up by 3.5 percent. On the list of seven foods costing more are, of course, fruits and vegetables, with fruits now five to six percent more and vegetables up by two percent. And let’s be real, fresh produce was already pricey to begin with. 

The solution to offset some of this expense? You guessed it, grow your own! Though it’s hard to pinpoint an exact amount of savings given all the variables such as plot size, vegetable types, and frequency of your harvests, gardening bloggers report savings ranging anywhere from $600 to $2,400 a season. Typically, start-up costs to plant your first garden can be done on the cheap for about $200. 

  1. It’s naturally organic and tastes better

Commercial farming comes with all kinds of hidden considerations—especially if you’re not splurging on organic—such as sprayed pesticides and fertilizers. Growing your own means you get to decide everything that goes on and around your food, from what soil you use, what you feed your plants with, and how you keep pests at bay. There are plenty of natural ways to keep pests away ranging from cayenne pepper spray to mixing in marigold flowers. When you garden at home, you can cultivate a naturally organic and nontoxic garden that you will feel good about eating from. 

Food you grow yourself is also more nutrient-dense and tastes better. The minute industrial farm produce is picked to be shipped to the supermarket, the nutrient value of the produce begins to deteriorate. And it just doesn’t taste nearly as good for that same reason. Once produce is harvested, the natural sugar in the fruit or vegetable turns to starch, degrading its vibrant flavors. 

Bottom line, growing your own fruits and veggies means that you can control the substances and insecticides your food comes into contact with. By allowing it to naturally reach its fully ripened state, you’ll maximize health-improving nutrients and peak flavor. 

5 Easy Steps For Growing Your Own Edible Garden:

  1. Plant your garden within your growing season. Use this tool to search your location and learn when and what to plant. 
  2. Pick the right spot. An area with six-to-eight hours of sunlight a day is best.
  3. Decide between a raised garden bed or a plot in the ground. Raised beds are a little easier in a number of ways. They extend your growing season thanks to the warmer temperature benefit of being above ground, they provide better drainage, it’s easier to manage weeds, and it’s also easier on your back! 
  4. Choose easy-to-grow vegetables for your first go. Lettuce, cucumbers, radish, zucchini, peppers, and green beans are all easy starter veggies. It’s equally important to choose things that your family enjoys eating!
  5. Monitor your vegetable garden carefully and know when to harvest for a fuller, more abundant garden and when to harvest at peak ripeness. Here’s a great guide for beginners.

Lastly, if you simply have nowhere to make a garden but you want to take advantage of all the benefits that come with it, consider joining a community garden. Find one near you through the American Community Gardening Associate

*The links used in this article are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Iovate Health Sciences International Inc. or any of its affiliates (“Iovate”) of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. Iovate bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

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