My mother has always grown a vegetable garden. Even when we lived in Southern California and our backyard was all cement patio and pool deck, she would always have a community garden plot that I remember having to go water and weed every weekend. I didn’t appreciate the benefits of growing your own vegetable garden back then, but the gardening bug must run in the family because I LOVE it now! And my daughter Britta is following in the footsteps of her Mom, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother as she embarks on her second year of vegetable gardening.
So today Britta and I are sharing our TOP TEN good reasons (or at least WE think they are!) for growing your own fresh veggies. I’m sure once you get started, you’ll come up with a few ideas of your own.
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It tastes GOOD
Who could argue that a tomato fresh from the vine tastes better than than one from the store? Food you’ve grown yourself tastes amazing! Your food is picked fresh from your garden when it’s ready and doesn’t have to be transported on a truck or sit around on store shelves. When food tastes better, you’re less likely to let it go to waste! Which leads to our next reason to grow your own vegetables……..
It’s GOOD for your wallet
Growing your own produce can save you anywhere from $100 to $1000 in a year! A $1 packet of carrot seeds will give you dozens of fresh carrots to eat. You can also choose to raise your food organically, which provides a significant cost savings over buying organic produce at the store.
Of course, if you’re not careful, gardening can be expensive. Here are a few ways you can save money on planting a garden:
- Start small. A smaller garden takes much less work and needs fewer materials to start.
- Start from seed. Starting seeds indoors can be a huge savings over what you’d pay for plants at the greenhouse.
- Plant what you’ll eat. There’s no point in having a garden if you don’t like anything you plant.
- Compost. You’ll save money on fertilizer and be doing something good for the environment.
- Preserve your harvest. Make sure to make the most of what you’ve grown.
It’s GOOD and clean
By selecting heirloom or organic seeds and transplants, you can ensure that your crops are GMO-free and safe for you and your family! You also decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides come in contact with your food.
It’s GOOD for the environment
Backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution, for example. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket.
It’s GOOD for the local economy
When you purchase seeds and transplants from local nurseries and garden centers, you’re helping to support your local economy! Plus, you’ll most likely find a wider variety of plants suited to grow well in your region.
It’s GOOD for kids
Getting kids involved in gardening is a great way to increase family time, get them some fresh air and exercise, and begin teaching them about food production and healthy eating! Studies have shown that children who are involved in gardening have more positive attitudes about fresh fruits and vegetables. (source: http://www.schoollunchinitiative.org/downloads/sli_eval_full_report_2010.pdf)
It’s GOOD to share
Growing your own vegetables means that you will always have more than enough than you can possibly use yourself, leaving you plenty of extras to share with friends, family, and neighbors. Just think how popular you will be when you show up at your neighbor’s door with a basket full of fresh veggies!
It’s a GOOD workout
Whether you’re weeding, lifting, or digging, you’re probably breaking a sweat when you’re out in the garden! The activities involved in gardening often use several different muscle groups in the body, while also providing a moderate level of cardiovascular exercise. Gardening is exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise, which is what we all want, right??
It’s GOOD stress relief
Some studies suggest that gardening is a great stress reliever, and might even relieve stress better than other leisure activities. This is because our modern life requires a lot of what researchers call “direct attention,” which involves expending effort to stay focused and ignore distractions. Long, sustained periods of direct attention can result in “attention fatigue,” where we become distracted, irritable, and impatient.
Luckily, gardening is an activity that involves “involuntary attention,” which is an effortless form of attention that we use to enjoy nature. Spending time enjoying nature appears to have a restorative effect on our attention capacity, which is why gardening makes us feel so good!
And the most obvious reason…
It’s GOOD for your health!
Studies have demonstrated time and time again that the average American is not getting enough nutrients in their diet. Not only will having a garden increase the amount of fresh produce in your diet, but it will likely be more nutritious than the produce from the store. Fruits and vegetables lose vitamins during the time it takes for them to be shipped from the farm to stores. (source: http://chge.med.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/resources/local_nutrition.pdf) Produce picked fresh from your backyard will not only taste great, it will be packed with beneficial nutrients too.
Whether you have big backyard, or just enough room to grow some herbs on your windowsill – you can still grow food. You’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers can grow out of one pot. Or, do like my Mom did and Britta does now, find out if your city has a community garden. Check out www.CommunityGarden.org to locate a community garden near you.
I hope you’ll give gardening try. Your wallet, the environment, your body, and your taste buds will thank you! :-)