Categories
Urban Farming

10 Reasons to Grow a Vegetable Garden

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Growing a vegetable garden for fresh organic food is more important than ever. Consider these 10 reasons to grow organic food, plus tips to get started vegetable gardening in your backyard, on your patio, and even indoors.

basket of colorful vegetables


Do you ever wonder whether growing your own food is worth the time and effort? Here are some benefits to growing your own organic food for you, your family, and the environment.

There was a time when I didn’t give much thought about the foods we buy in the grocery stores. That changed when food recalls became more frequently reported in the news. One food recall in particular caught my attention because the local news reported E. coli contamination of spinach that was sold at my grocery store. It was the fall of 2006, and this recall eventually affected 26 states stretching from Wyoming to Maine.

The first question that came to mind was, “Why was my grocery store selling spinach from California when it grows quite well here in New England?” Even though I was likely to purchase produce in season, I just didn’t realize that most of it was shipped three thousand miles across the country. Call me naive, but I believed that all food was grown locally, and brand names had regional plants across the country that packaged the foods to sell in our grocery stores.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I wondered what else didn’t I know?

I had a little garden at the time, and I planted plenty of basic summer crops for fresh eating, but the news of contaminated spinach urged me to learn more about growing different crops. I began to look at everything I purchased from the produce department and wondered if I could grow it in the garden. I also began to shop at local farm stands and farmers’ markets during the warmer months.

Food safety was one of my main reasons for growing more of my own organic foods, but there are so many other reasons too. Here are my top 10 reasons to grow your own organic food:

10 Reasons to Grow a Vegetable Garden

Growing a vegetable garden is an easy way to save money, stay active, and have fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs at your fingertips! Read on for more benefits to growing your own food, plus tips to start a vegetable garden today!

Homegrown Vegetables Taste Better

There is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe tomato plucked from the vine. Or snacking on string beans as you putter through the garden. Flavor is just one of the pleasures you can enjoy when you grow your own food.

Many of the varieties of fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are adapted for commercial farming. Through selecting and breeding specific traits, these strains are developed to produce more per plant, be ready for harvesting all at once, have a longer shelf life, be uniform size and shape, ship without bruising, and often times finish ripening on trucks during shipping. Even when you purchase organic vegetables, this breeding can compromise flavor. The taste and texture of a grocery store tomato cannot compare to one that is freshly picked from a plant growing in your own garden.

image of a large ripe tomato on a white table

You Can Grow More Varieties in Your Garden

Growing from quality transplants from your local nursery or starting your own seedlings under lights allows you to select from so many different varieties that offer greater flavor and texture than what is available in the grocery stores. You can choose from hundreds of varieties based on flavor, shape, and color. When you grow your own, you can select varieties that are adapted to your growing area or mature in a short period.

No Chemical Pesticides

You control the growing environment of your garden. There is no need for chemicals and pesticides in your backyard garden. If you have problems with disease or pests, there is usually an organic remedy to solve it. In worst-case scenarios, you simply chalk that particular crop up to a loss, pull the plants, and plant something else in its place. (See what to do when late blight strikes)

Each year, The Environmental Working Group releases its Dirty Dozen™ list. This list includes the top twelve USDA tested produce with the highest pesticide loads. Vegetables on the list in 2017 include, celery, spinach, potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. (These are some of the easiest garden vegetables to grow in your own backyard garden without using pesticides.

Reduced Danger of Food Contamination

Growing and harvesting food from your backyard garden ensures you know where your food came from. I cringe every single time I hear about a food-borne illness on the news and there have been many since my eye-opening experience back in 2006. The US Federal Government estimates that 48 million people get sick from a food-borne illness each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria are the most common food borne outbreaks that affect fruits and vegetables in multiple states. At the time of writing this article, the CDC was investigating Listeria contaminated packaged salads and cucumbers tainted with Salmonella. There is no need to worry when you grow your own salad vegetables.image of a basket full of freshly harvested lettuce

Slo Bolt Lettuce

You will Eat Fresh, In-Season Vegetables

Tending to your garden and growing your own food will teach you to eat in season when flavors and nutrients are at peak. When you have a lot of harvests to use up, you tend to eat more vegetables and think of creative ways to prepare them so nothing goes to waste. Since they are harvested fresh, the natural flavors of the vegetables shine and do not need additional oils, salt, or other additives to make them taste good.

Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally in the garden and are consumed within days of harvest have more nutrients than store-bought vegetables. Most of the vegetables that line the grocery store produce section are picked early, shipped to warehouses, distributed to the stores, and stay in storage or on the shelf for a while until you purchase them. Over time, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables declines. Not only do freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste better, but they also have a higher nutritional value.

Gardening Provides Outdoor Exercise

During the growing season, gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine regularly. There are a lot of different movements in gardening that require strength or stretching. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks are excellent forms of low-impact exercise.

Did you know that 45 minutes of gardening burns the same amount of calories as running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes? Regular physical activity can help you feel better and improve your well-being because it relieves stress, boosts energy and releases tension.

image of framed garden beds in the spring

You will Waste Less Food when You Garden

Organic waste is the second highest component of landfills in the US and the largest source of methane emissions. It is estimated that 30% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.

None of the fruits and vegetables harvested on our property go to waste. We make every effort to eat or preserve all the food harvested from the garden. Whatever scraps or trimmings we don’t consume is either fed to our hens or added to the compost bin to be returned to the garden again as nutrients. We also give away excess harvests if we are unable to use it. When you grow your own vegetables, you understand the value more clearly.

Gardening Saves Money at the Grocery Store

Many will challenge that gardening actually saves money. When the garden bug hits, it is easy to find yourself purchasing cute pots, plant stakes, and gardening gadgets on the market. If you stick to the basics, gardening really doesn’t cost much in supplies in comparison to the amount of food it produces.

Even if you grow a small garden for fresh eating, you will save money. For example, a package of organic salad greens cost at least $5 at my local grocery store and is usually only enough for a few servings. If you grow your own from a package of good-quality organic seeds, it costs half that and produces for a longer period of time yielding about 6 pounds of salad greens.

Growing a Vegetable Garden Contributes to Your Food Security

The World Health Organization states that food security is achieved when “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”

Growing your own food garden contributes to your food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to your family daily during the growing season. If you learn how to preserve your harvest, you will be able to stock your Pantry and feed your family even when the growing season is over.

Gardening Makes You Feel Good

Planting a seed, watching it sprout and grow to produce food for you, and your family is one of the most gratifying feelings. Sure, many of us work hard to earn a living and provide for our family, but the close association of this simple effort and direct reward is fulfilling.

I love the feeling of pride as I look over a meal I prepared with vegetables from my garden. I revel in the sensation of accomplishment as I stock our cellar with potatoes, onions, garlic, other storage crops and canned goods to get us through the winter.

How to Get Started Gardening

You don’t need a lot of land or gardening experience to benefit from growing your own food. You can start out with just a few herbs on your windowsill, a simple container of salad greens on the porch, or you could even try gardening in containers along your walkway.

Gardens do not have to be big in order to be beneficial. Choose a small area that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day and has access to water. Build a few raised beds and plant the foods you like to eat. Expand a little each year and experiment with growing different crops. You will quickly gain knowledge and learn how to take care of your garden plants, and they will reward you with great-tasting food.

If you live in an area that makes gardening outside impossible, or if you are physically limited, consider growing an indoor garden. There are many things you can grow indoors under the right lighting or even near a sunny window.

If you don’t have space for a garden at home, a community garden is another option. You can find one in your community through the Contact your local city or town to discover community gardening options in your area.

As you can see, the rewards for the effort of growing your own food are impressive. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your garden today!

Do you grow a vegetable garden? If so, what inspired you to grow your own food?

Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden

Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.

Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Growing a vegetable garden for fresh organic food is more important than ever. Consider these 10 reasons to grow organic food, plus tips to get started vegetable gardening in your backyard, on your patio, and even indoors.

basket of colorful vegetables


Do you ever wonder whether growing your own food is worth the time and effort? Here are some benefits to growing your own organic food for you, your family, and the environment.

There was a time when I didn’t give much thought about the foods we buy in the grocery stores. That changed when food recalls became more frequently reported in the news. One food recall in particular caught my attention because the local news reported E. coli contamination of spinach that was sold at my grocery store. It was the fall of 2006, and this recall eventually affected 26 states stretching from Wyoming to Maine.

The first question that came to mind was, “Why was my grocery store selling spinach from California when it grows quite well here in New England?” Even though I was likely to purchase produce in season, I just didn’t realize that most of it was shipped three thousand miles across the country. Call me naive, but I believed that all food was grown locally, and brand names had regional plants across the country that packaged the foods to sell in our grocery stores.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I wondered what else didn’t I know?

I had a little garden at the time, and I planted plenty of basic summer crops for fresh eating, but the news of contaminated spinach urged me to learn more about growing different crops. I began to look at everything I purchased from the produce department and wondered if I could grow it in the garden. I also began to shop at local farm stands and farmers’ markets during the warmer months.

Food safety was one of my main reasons for growing more of my own organic foods, but there are so many other reasons too. Here are my top 10 reasons to grow your own organic food:

10 Reasons to Grow a Vegetable Garden

Growing a vegetable garden is an easy way to save money, stay active, and have fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs at your fingertips! Read on for more benefits to growing your own food, plus tips to start a vegetable garden today!

Homegrown Vegetables Taste Better

There is nothing like biting into a fresh ripe tomato plucked from the vine. Or snacking on string beans as you putter through the garden. Flavor is just one of the pleasures you can enjoy when you grow your own food.

Many of the varieties of fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores are adapted for commercial farming. Through selecting and breeding specific traits, these strains are developed to produce more per plant, be ready for harvesting all at once, have a longer shelf life, be uniform size and shape, ship without bruising, and often times finish ripening on trucks during shipping. Even when you purchase organic vegetables, this breeding can compromise flavor. The taste and texture of a grocery store tomato cannot compare to one that is freshly picked from a plant growing in your own garden.

image of a large ripe tomato on a white table

You Can Grow More Varieties in Your Garden

Growing from quality transplants from your local nursery or starting your own seedlings under lights allows you to select from so many different varieties that offer greater flavor and texture than what is available in the grocery stores. You can choose from hundreds of varieties based on flavor, shape, and color. When you grow your own, you can select varieties that are adapted to your growing area or mature in a short period.

No Chemical Pesticides

You control the growing environment of your garden. There is no need for chemicals and pesticides in your backyard garden. If you have problems with disease or pests, there is usually an organic remedy to solve it. In worst-case scenarios, you simply chalk that particular crop up to a loss, pull the plants, and plant something else in its place. (See what to do when late blight strikes)

Each year, The Environmental Working Group releases its Dirty Dozen™ list. This list includes the top twelve USDA tested produce with the highest pesticide loads. Vegetables on the list in 2017 include, celery, spinach, potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. (These are some of the easiest garden vegetables to grow in your own backyard garden without using pesticides.

Reduced Danger of Food Contamination

Growing and harvesting food from your backyard garden ensures you know where your food came from. I cringe every single time I hear about a food-borne illness on the news and there have been many since my eye-opening experience back in 2006. The US Federal Government estimates that 48 million people get sick from a food-borne illness each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria are the most common food borne outbreaks that affect fruits and vegetables in multiple states. At the time of writing this article, the CDC was investigating Listeria contaminated packaged salads and cucumbers tainted with Salmonella. There is no need to worry when you grow your own salad vegetables.image of a basket full of freshly harvested lettuce

Slo Bolt Lettuce

You will Eat Fresh, In-Season Vegetables

Tending to your garden and growing your own food will teach you to eat in season when flavors and nutrients are at peak. When you have a lot of harvests to use up, you tend to eat more vegetables and think of creative ways to prepare them so nothing goes to waste. Since they are harvested fresh, the natural flavors of the vegetables shine and do not need additional oils, salt, or other additives to make them taste good.

Fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally in the garden and are consumed within days of harvest have more nutrients than store-bought vegetables. Most of the vegetables that line the grocery store produce section are picked early, shipped to warehouses, distributed to the stores, and stay in storage or on the shelf for a while until you purchase them. Over time, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables declines. Not only do freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste better, but they also have a higher nutritional value.

Gardening Provides Outdoor Exercise

During the growing season, gardening gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine regularly. There are a lot of different movements in gardening that require strength or stretching. Digging, planting, weeding, and other repetitive tasks are excellent forms of low-impact exercise.

Did you know that 45 minutes of gardening burns the same amount of calories as running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes? Regular physical activity can help you feel better and improve your well-being because it relieves stress, boosts energy and releases tension.

image of framed garden beds in the spring

You will Waste Less Food when You Garden

Organic waste is the second highest component of landfills in the US and the largest source of methane emissions. It is estimated that 30% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.

None of the fruits and vegetables harvested on our property go to waste. We make every effort to eat or preserve all the food harvested from the garden. Whatever scraps or trimmings we don’t consume is either fed to our hens or added to the compost bin to be returned to the garden again as nutrients. We also give away excess harvests if we are unable to use it. When you grow your own vegetables, you understand the value more clearly.

Gardening Saves Money at the Grocery Store

Many will challenge that gardening actually saves money. When the garden bug hits, it is easy to find yourself purchasing cute pots, plant stakes, and gardening gadgets on the market. If you stick to the basics, gardening really doesn’t cost much in supplies in comparison to the amount of food it produces.

Even if you grow a small garden for fresh eating, you will save money. For example, a package of organic salad greens cost at least $5 at my local grocery store and is usually only enough for a few servings. If you grow your own from a package of good-quality organic seeds, it costs half that and produces for a longer period of time yielding about 6 pounds of salad greens.

Growing a Vegetable Garden Contributes to Your Food Security

The World Health Organization states that food security is achieved when “all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”

Growing your own food garden contributes to your food security by providing direct access to food that can be harvested, prepared and fed to your family daily during the growing season. If you learn how to preserve your harvest, you will be able to stock your Pantry and feed your family even when the growing season is over.

Gardening Makes You Feel Good

Planting a seed, watching it sprout and grow to produce food for you, and your family is one of the most gratifying feelings. Sure, many of us work hard to earn a living and provide for our family, but the close association of this simple effort and direct reward is fulfilling.

I love the feeling of pride as I look over a meal I prepared with vegetables from my garden. I revel in the sensation of accomplishment as I stock our cellar with potatoes, onions, garlic, other storage crops and canned goods to get us through the winter.

How to Get Started Gardening

You don’t need a lot of land or gardening experience to benefit from growing your own food. You can start out with just a few herbs on your windowsill, a simple container of salad greens on the porch, or you could even try gardening in containers along your walkway.

Gardens do not have to be big in order to be beneficial. Choose a small area that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day and has access to water. Build a few raised beds and plant the foods you like to eat. Expand a little each year and experiment with growing different crops. You will quickly gain knowledge and learn how to take care of your garden plants, and they will reward you with great-tasting food.

If you live in an area that makes gardening outside impossible, or if you are physically limited, consider growing an indoor garden. There are many things you can grow indoors under the right lighting or even near a sunny window.

If you don’t have space for a garden at home, a community garden is another option. You can find one in your community through the Contact your local city or town to discover community gardening options in your area.

As you can see, the rewards for the effort of growing your own food are impressive. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your garden today!

Do you grow a vegetable garden? If so, what inspired you to grow your own food?

Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden

Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.

Categories
Urban Farming

Six Benefits of Growing Your Own Food

109home garden with fruits and vegetables

Get out your gardening tools and stock up on seeds. Growing your own food provides fresh ingredients for your meals, but you’ll soon see other benefits of home gardens that you may not have expected. Here are six ways to make the most of growing your own vegetables:

1. Control your crops

Growing your own produce lets you control what ends up on your family’s table. You decide what fertilizer, water and pest control to use, as well as whether to grow organic. Be sure to do research on the following:

  • Your hardiness zone
  • Plant water needs
  • Plant sunlight needs
  • Fertilizer safety and types
  • Pest and weed control options

2. Live the ‘fresh is best’ lifestyle

Nothing beats flavor-and-nutrient-packed power of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. Once harvested, produce begins to lose moisture and nutrients. At the grocery store, the freshness of your vegetables is largely out of your control. But when you’ve grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can know exactly when they’ve been picked and how fresh they are.

3. Make your yard inviting

A vegetable and fruit garden can add life, color and beauty to your backyard. The smell of ripening strawberries and the sight of crisp cucumbers are a warm invitation to people and pollinators alike. Plants that sport beautiful flowers to encourage pollination—like beans, peas and fruit trees—can really make a splash in your backyard. Plus, the insects they attract will likely pollinate other plants as well, making your whole garden grow faster.

When you decide where to put your garden, keep in mind what plants may need. Do plants need a lot of sun or a lot of shade—or a little of both? Depends on what you’re growing. Read the tag that comes with the plant or look it up in a gardening guide. Give plants the right amount of sun exposure they need to thrive. Also be careful not to place plants too close together. Follow the spacing instructions to allow plants room to flourish fully.

4. Cut down on your grocery budget

One of the biggest advantages of growing your own food is that it can save you money. The price of a pack of seeds is almost equivalent to what you would pay for a single vegetable or fruit at the store. It may even cost less when you factor in the money spent on the gas used to drive to the supermarket. Plus, you can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of what they retail for in store. When taking food costs into consideration, gardening can become an appealing option to cut back on your grocery bill.

5. Make gardening a family hobby

a girl holding a vegetable in a garden

Gardening is a fun, family-friendly activity that allows kids to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from. From planting seedlings to building salads together, starting a vegetable garden is a great way to get your family off the couch and onto their feet.

6. Make your health a priority

There’s one important nutrient gardening can give you before you even take a bite of your produce: vitamin D. The sun’s rays promote vitamin D production, which is vital to our health. Tending a backyard garden for about 30 minutes daily can promote better sleep and positive energy. Just remember the sunscreen.

Now that you see the benefits of starting a vegetable and fruit garden, learn how to plant one in 10 simple steps.

Categories
Urban Farming

How a Family Garden Will Improve Your Health

Whether you have an acre of land or a few pots on a balcony, plant a family garden: You’ll all live healthier! Gardening is an easy activity to share and you’ll harvest benefits along with your fresh vegetables, colorful flowers, and aromatic herbs. Even better, you don’t have to wait for your plants to bloom to see those benefits. Some of them (like stress relief) are almost instantaneous.https://2125dd9674dc05452afa3bf8403e5fc2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The Benefits of Having a Family Garden

When parents and kids work together to plant and care for a garden, they can all enjoy these perks.

Physical Activity

Gardening and yard work are moderate-intensity exercises, which we all need every day (for at least 30 minutes). While tending your family garden doesn’t require the vigorous activity of, say, running or playing singles tennis, it’s still beneficial to your body.

Once you start gardening, it’s common to continue for more than the recommended 30 minutes. And gardening incorporates fine-motor skill strengthening and stretching.

Lower Stress, Better Mood

Gardening is an excellent stress reliever for a combination of fascinating reasons: exposure to fresh air and sunlight, relaxing and repetitive tasks, and even contact with harmless bacteria in the soil that helps release serotonin in the brain.

Outdoor Time

Children are prone to spending a lot of time indoors, which can negatively affect their behavior and health. A family garden gets them outside enjoying and experiencing the natural world.

Better Sleep 

All of the above (physical activity, reduced stress, being outside) can contribute to more and better sleep for everyone. And better sleep, in turn, can improve kids’ behavior and performance at school.

Healthier Eating 

Kids who grow vegetables eat vegetables—or at least, they are more willing to taste unfamiliar veggies, which is the first step to incorporating those new flavors into their diet. Adults who garden are also more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than non-gardeners.1

Family Time

Planning, sowing, and tending a family garden offers physical activity with a purpose shared by everyone.https://2125dd9674dc05452afa3bf8403e5fc2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Gardening helps teach kids responsibility and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It gives all of you a project to work on—and enjoy—together, which reinforces your family bond.

Projects for Your Family Garden

Consult with an expert neighbor, a family member, a local nursery, or a cooperative extension service to find out what plants will grow best where you live. You might consider investing in a rain barrel and starting a compost pile to make your garden more Earth-friendly, too.

If you have limited outdoor space, planting in containers is a good way to try out gardening. Even if you do have space, starting with containers can be a good introduction to gardening for little ones.

Vegetables 

Start them from seed, or purchase seedlings to get a jump-start. If your kids have a favorite vegetable it’s definitely worth letting them try to grow their own. You can find favorites like carrots, string beans, bell peppers, and potatoes in kid-appealing purple hues. Tomatoes, too, come in dozens of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Quick-growing plants, such as radishes, peas, cucumbers, and many herbs, are satisfying for kids to grow. And if your children are very small, remember that it’s easier for them to plant veggies with larger seeds, like peas, corn, and beans.

Flowers

There are lots of options for involving kids in flower gardening. Let them pick out some seeds based on the pretty pictures on the packets. Or opt for drama with easy-to-grow sunflowers, which can reach as high as eight feet tall. Simple daisies produce lots of blooms for kids to enjoy, display, and craft with. Other blooms that are easy to grow (and thus less likely to lead to disappointment) are marigolds, snapdragons, and geraniums.

You might also decide to plant with a goal in mind, such as creating a butterfly garden full of plants that attract and nourish butterflies. You’ll get the satisfaction of growing beautiful things while welcoming beautiful creatures.

Fruits

Fruit trees can be difficult to care for and may take several years to yield a harvest. But strawberries are a snap to grow from seeds or seedlings, and blackberries or raspberries can also be an option (plus they’re perennial and will come back year after year). If you live in a very warm climate or keep them indoors, you can grow your own citrus fruits too.

Family Garden Chores for Kids

Kids can do a lot of the work for your family garden, either independently or alongside an adult. While you don’t want them to burn out on tedious tasks like weeding, taking responsibility is part of what makes a family garden meaningful. Set a goal, such as clearing one small, designated area or working for 15 minutes, then do something else.

Depending on their ages, kids can:

  • Collect sticks and other debris
  • Bring compostables to the compost pile
  • Dig holes for seeds or plants
  • Harvest fruits or vegetables from the garden
  • Mow the lawn (age 10 and up)
  • Rake leaves
  • Snip flowers for a bouquet (again, good instructions will be important!)
  • Spread bark or mulch
  • Sprinkle plant food
  • Water plants with a watering can or hose
  • Weed (with good instructions on what to pluck and what to keep)

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to educate your child along the way, too. You’ll be growing their brain right along with your family crops. 

Categories
Urban Farming

5 REASONS TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD

Learn how growing your own food can improve your physical and mental health, as well as the health of the  environment.

Growing your own produce is a simple solution to numerous health, environmental, and economic problems. Whether you are growing a single tomato plant or have a large backyard garden, it is beneficial to your health, as well as the environments.

Five reasons to grow your own food include:

1. More Nutritious

When growing your own food, your dietis more diverse and healthy, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Food in its rawest, freshest form is not only the tastiest way to enjoy it, but also the most nutritional. The majority of produce sold in grocery stores go through a long process of being harvested, shipped and distributed to stores. Once distributed, the produce can end up staying in storage or on the shelf for an extended period of time before being purchased, losing nutritional value.

2. Stay Active

Gardening is a fun way to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity. The physical activity required in gardening has proven to promote physical health. Involvement in gardening helps to improve cardiac health and immune system response, decrease heart rate and stress, improve fine and gross motor skills, flexibility and body strength. Getting regular exercisecan relieve stress, anxiety and depression, while boosting energy.

3. Get Vitamin D

Gardening is a great way to absorb vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is crucial in order to maintain healthy bones and teeth, and it can also protect against certain diseases.

4. Save Money

You can save a lot of moneyby growing your own vegetables and fruits. By spending a few dollars on seeds, plants, and supplies in the spring, you will produce vegetables that will yield pounds of produce in summer.

5. Better for the Environment

Long-distance transportation of produce relies heavily on fossil fuels. Growing your own food would help reduce the reliance on this transportation that is harming the environment. Also, by growing your own food, you are not using chemicals or pesticides that can harm environment.

Categories
Urban Farming

What Is Home (Backyard) Gardening? (Importance, Benefits …)

As a home gardener, I often feel it is my duty to tell other people about home gardening and its various benefits. Home gardening has become such a vital part of my daily life that I can quite aptly describe it as one of my favorite passions. In fact, if spreading the word will bring even a smidge of the same value and enjoyment to someone else’s life, I would be only too glad to help!

What is home gardening? Home gardening is the act of turning an outside space into a productive and functional area for the family, as well as a home for plants and animals that have otherwise lost their homes to urban development. 

Home gardening involves growing fruit, vegetables and herbs for personal consumption, as well as creating aesthetics and diversity for bird and insect life with attractive flower beds. Home gardening requires gardening knowledge, ongoing nurturing of plants, maintenance skills, and consistent improvement.

Many people choose home gardening as a hobby – that is why I started gardening in the first place – but it turns out that there are many other reasons why home gardening is increasing in popularity. For many, home gardening is a way of going green and provides the perfect opportunity to eat fresh, organic foods that won’t cost you nearly as much as the grocery store’s produce. 

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of home gardening, how to create your first home garden, and get a few great tips for enjoying the best possible yields, read on.

How to Start Your First Home Garden | Steps for Home Gardening – A Newbies Guide

How do you start your own home garden? It is actually pretty simple. Follow the steps below:

1. Start small. 

Do not try to create a massive garden from day 1. You might become overwhelmed. Choose a small space to work with and expand as you become more confident and comfortable with your skills. 

2. Finding the proper spot.

If you plan to grow vegetables, you need to choose a spot that gets about 6 hours of full sunshine every day. If you do not know how to tell how many hours of sun your chosen space gets, you can use a sun calculator (which is a device you just push into the soil and leave there for the day). 

Do not place your veggie garden bed next to tall trees as the roots may interfere with the success of your garden. Also, make sure that it is in a position that is convenient for you to reach every day.

3. Access to water.

Make sure that you have access to water nearby. If you do not have a tap that is right next to your intended garden space, you will need to invest in a long hose with a control nozzle. Watering your garden daily is important, and if you plan to do all your watering with a watering can, you might get frustrated with all the back and forth.https://bba7042f0eff9f44c078c2478b670548.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

4. Preparing the soil.

Next, you have to prepare the soil for the plants. If the soil is quite compacted, you have your work cut out for you. You should loosen the soil so the plants can grow easily and so that it also drains well. Till the soil with a broad fork, a tiller, or a regular digging fork.

5. Add organic compost.

Once the soil is loosened, put in some organic compost. Simply spread the compost on the outer layer of your tilled soil in the areas where you will plant.https://bba7042f0eff9f44c078c2478b670548.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

6. Create beds. 

Create beds by digging the soil from the intended pathways and placing it in the areas where you will plant. You can build the beds up a few centimeters.

7. Grading of the beds. 

Now, you need to do a bit of grading of the beds. A home garden bed needs to be about 1m wide, unlike farm produce rows, which seem to be much narrower. A wide bed will allow your veggie plant’s roots a lot more space to spread and grow.

8. Water the garden. 

Water the entire garden and allow some time for the beds to settle. It is common for weed seeds to germinate and start to grow in the days to follow tilling – this is normal. Hold off planting for now and rather visit the garden space every few days and remove the young weeds from the beds.

9. Plant your new seeds.

Plant your new seeds into the beds by following the planting instructions on the seed packet. If you are like me and like to scoop seeds out of the vegetables that you eat, make sure that you do a little research into how to grow and nurture the plant for the best yields.https://bba7042f0eff9f44c078c2478b670548.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Following these steps will have your first home garden set up in as little as a week. Remember that you will need to spend a considerable amount of time in the garden nurturing plants as well as maintaining the space in the weeks, months, and years to come.

The Many Benefits of Home Gardening

Home gardening is good for a variety of reasons. Below are a few of the benefits to expect if you start home gardening:

Food security.

Buying absolutely everything from the supermarket is bound to put you in a grave position if, for some reason, you no longer have access to the supermarket food. You could lose your car, run out of money, or be separated from your food sources by a storm – then what?https://bba7042f0eff9f44c078c2478b670548.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Growing your own food is a great way to ensure food security for you and your family. And what could be better than eating a salad that came straight from your garden?

Reduced cortisol in the body – less stress.

When the body experiences stress, cortisol is produced. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Gardening is said to help the body relax and reduce the amount of cortisol, thus reducing feelings of stress. https://bba7042f0eff9f44c078c2478b670548.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Improved immune system.

Did you know that you can boost your immune system by being in direct contact with dirt? Gardening is, therefore, the perfect way to boost your immune system. 

Good workout.

Gardening can be as good as a workout as spending time in the gym. If you want to improve your fitness and do not particularly want to join a gym class, take up gardening. While you are gardening, you will be pushing a wheelbarrow, digging, walking up and down while carrying things, reaching, and cutting – all of these actions are a form of exercise.https://bba7042f0eff9f44c078c2478b670548.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Reduce your carbon footprint.

Everything we do in life seems to have a negative impact on the environment. Green living is becoming the norm, and people who want to reduce their carbon footprint can do so by putting carbon and GHGs into the soil via permaculture and organic substances. You can also provide a home environment for birds, insects, and other creatures and critters that might have lost their natural homes due to development.

Increase property value

When you create a beautiful outdoor space, the value of your property increases, along with its curb appeal.

Tips for Home Gardening

When home gardening, you want to ensure that you save time and money by learning a few tricks of the trade. Below you will find a few home gardening tips to help you along the way:

  • Keep your pathways weed-free by placing cardboard along them, watering them heavily, and then laying straw over them. This should keep weed growth at bay.
  • Begin with plants that are simple to grow. If you choose the most sensitive or complicated plants to grow in the beginning (while you are still finding your feet), you might struggle. 
  • Create a watering and maintenance schedule to ensure that you do not inadvertently neglect your new growing plants. 
  • Consider making a DIY drip irrigation system to cut back on water wastage and save money at the same time.  
  • Educate yourself on each and every plant that you choose to grow. The more you know, the better care you can give your plants. 
  • Take pest control seriously. If you have wildlife, think about installing a deer fence. If you have bugs and insects, but do not want to use chemical pesticides, make your own environmentally friendly pesticide with Epsom salts and water. You will find a plethora of online recipes for homemade pest deterrents.
  • Have fun! If you make gardening a chore instead of fun, chances are that you will lose interest in it. If you have kids, encourage them to spend days in the garden with you. Grow plants that interest and excite you and try to incorporate as many veggies, herbs, and fruits in your garden that you and your family regularly consume. 

Home Gardening Can Change Your Life

It is said that people who have a home garden are more in touch with nature and are able to focus on healthy eating with greater ease than those who do not. I strongly agree with this statement. In fact, I can’t wait to get out into the garden right now! If you are thinking about starting a home garden, I hope you have learned everything you need to know to get started. Good luck!

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Urban Farming

What are the Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden?

What are the benefits of growing your own vegetables? Vegetables are so easy to grow especially in sunny spots. And you don’t need a large yard to build a vegetable garden. Even the tiniest slice of space can be transformed into a lush, thriving garden.

If you love the idea of growing your own produce then building a vegetable garden will save you hundreds of dollars on grocery. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that the vegetables you eat are grown with lots of TLC! Still torn about the idea of building a vegetable patch? In today’s post, we are outlining all the amazing benefits of growing your own vegetables:

Vegetables being planted in the garden

Contents [hide]

  1. Improve Your Health
  2. Save Money on Food
  3. It’s Eco-Friendly
  4. Effective and Enjoyable Workout
  5. Healthy, Sustainable Food
  6. Minimize Waste

Improve Your Health

Fresh vegetables are a central part of a healthy diet. Vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that promote better health, including antioxidants and vitamins. Adding fresh vegetables to your daily meals is the best way to boost your health, and your loved ones’ health too.

Children, in particular, will benefit from the health-giving nutrients of fresh vegetables. Studies show that children who are fed with homegrown produce are twice more likely to eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetable a day compared to children who rarely or never ate homegrown veggies. Unfortunately, kids are not great fans of greens. Starting them young is a great way to get the kids to appreciate vegetables early on.

Save Money on Food

Stocking up on fresh produce grown from the yard means having more food to enjoy for weeks, even months, without spending a dime on store-bought vegetables. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average household spends about $550 per month on food, spending more on fresh produce compared to eggs, dairy, sugar, and other staples. If you’d like to reduce your grocery expenses, try growing your own crops. You won’t believe how much money you will save from growing your own food!

Most households spend 60% of their food budget on meals and snacks. A small packet of seeds costs about a few cents. Growing vegetables from seeds allow you to plant a huge variety of vegetables, which you can harvest at different seasons. If your pantry is overflowing with vegetables, you can always preserve these so you can enjoy healthy veggies even after the growing season is over!

Newly sprouted plants being held.

It’s Eco-Friendly

Gardening is inherently eco-friendly, more so if you are growing vegetables without using any type of chemical. Growing food organically means sparing the earth of water, soil, and air pollution. Since you are buying less produce from the supermarket, you are not contributing to the use of fossil fuel from transporting fruits and vegetables to your local grocery. If you are growing crops without using pesticides or herbicides, toxic chemicals won’t seep into the soil and waterways. You can enjoy the earth’s bounty without harming the environment.

Effective and Enjoyable Workout

One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is that it keeps you fit. Most people want to work out but not all of us are comfortable at the idea of lifting weights or enrolling in a fitness class at the local gym. Gardening is a wonderful hobby for anyone who’d like to achieve a trim and healthy physique. All that weeding, planting, watering, and harvesting tone the muscles and build strength. If you don’t like lifting weights, completing all your gardening activities is similar to working out but it’s much more organic and enjoyable because you are doing something that nourishes your soul.
 
If you are always stressed out and you don’t or won’t go to the local spa to de-stress, try gardening. Doing something meaningful or purposeful is a great stress reliever. Going out there and getting some fresh air and sunshine certainly helps soothe frazzled nerves!

A bunch of vegetables being carried

Healthy, Sustainable Food

Dining out or having takeouts is nice every once in a while but restaurant food and fast foods pale in comparison to homemade meals made from fresh, sustainable ingredients. Usually, resto meals and fast foods are high in sodium, sugar, and additives that are bad for the health. Also, there is no way to say if the ingredients are organically grown.

Organically grown vegetables are healthier, more flavorful compared to store-bought meals. Unfortunately, organic produce is more expensive than your average fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to organically produced vegetables at home? Growing your own food allows you to enjoy sustainable fruits and vegetables whenever. You can prepare your meals and have total control over the quality of the ingredients while spending less money on food.

Minimize Waste

Did you know that the average American household throws about $600 worth of food every year? Most people are so used to accessing food conveniently, never thinking about the hard work that comes from growing the said food. It’s much harder to waste food when you grew your own food.

When you are growing your own food, you are less likely to take fruits and vegetables for granted. You are also likely to preserve or use up your supply before it spoils. Building a vegetable garden is also a great way to teach your children about the importance of utilizing whatever bounty the earth has provided to its fullest and avoiding waste!

Different kinds of vegetables on the table

To make your vegetable garden even more sustainable, you can build your own compost pile using kitchen scraps and organic garden debris. By building a compost pile, you can turn organic scraps into natural fertilizers for your garden.

Building a vegetable garden takes a lot of hard work and commitment but as long as you are devoted to growing your own food, you will reap the benefits of growing your own vegetables! It’s also easy to turn any available space into a garden patch. Just use small containers if your garden space is limited. Found these gardening tips useful? Tune in for more! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening resources straight to your inbox!

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Urban Farming

The 6 Amazing Benefits of Gardening in Your Backyard

The value that you get from gardening is much more than the vegetables your plot produces. It can be therapeutic, healthy, educational, communal, environmentally friendly, and good exercise. The vegetables you harvest are just the tip of the iceberg, gardening offers us “sow” much more.

It’s true: Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes! Here are 6 amazing benefits of gardening in your backyard.

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1. The Health Benefits of Gardening

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Gardening as Exercise

For those of you who have spent some time in the garden, it will come as no surprise that gardening can be a good source of exercise. Tasks like raking leaves, mowing lawns, and waging war on weeds tend to offer moderate exercise, while digging holes and shoveling compost can be far more rigorous.

In my own garden, I harvest rainwater in barrels around my house and then tote buckets of water across the yard to my garden. I like to start the season with a smaller bucket and work my way up to carrying a larger bucket near the end of the summer.

Because of my old-school watering system, it seems like every day is arm day, but gardening also includes a wide range of motions like bending, squatting, and reaching, making it good for flexibility too.

Gardeners with back problems or mobility issues may want to consider using taller raised beds. These eliminate kneeling, making gardening far more ergonomic.

After a long day of gardening, a restful night of sleep comes easily to most!

Absorb Some Vitamin D

Did you know that vitamin D is often called the “Sunshine Vitamin?” The more time you spend outdoors, the more vitamin D you absorb through your skin. Spending half an hour outside can be enough to give you all the vitamin D you need in a day.

Most gardeners have no shortage of tasks to do in the sunshine, and luckily for them, vitamin D has all sorts of health benefits including:

2. Benefits of Gardening for Kids

benefits-of-gardening-for-kids
My girls grew up in the garden. Is there anything better than bare feet in the dirt?

Gardening Encourages Picky Eaters to Try More Vegetables

If you have a picky eater at home, you’re probably familiar with this scene: You prepare a nutritious homemade meal, place it in front of your little one, and then you watch as they push it around their plate until it’s cold, and they don’t want it anymore. It sucks. It really does.

So how do we encourage kids to eat more of those dreaded veggies?

A study conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that if a child has helped to grow the food on their plate, they are more likely to try it. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of watching those early tomatoes ripen, or maybe just curiosity around trying the efforts of their labor, but it works!

benefits-of-gardening-for-picky-eaters
Kids get a real sense of pride when they grow their own veggies! Who cares that the carrots look funny…

Incorporate Gardening into Your Home School Plan

This year in particular, many parents are opting to homeschool their children. Gardening is a great learning opportunity for children of all ages. There is even some evidence that kids who garden perform better in their academic courses.

Here are just some of the ways you can incorporate gardening into your home school plan:

How to Grow Your Own Food

Knowing how to grow your own vegetables is a timeless skill. Homegrown vegetables can be more nutritious and more affordable than store-bought ones. Backyard produce is often left to ripen on the plant longer, resulting in better flavor. Here are some of the easiest vegetables to start with.

Where Food Comes From

Do you know where the food on your plate comes from? Some vegetables travel thousands of kilometers to land on your plate; others can be easily grown in your own backyard. It’s interesting to learn about where different foods grow and which ones you can try to grow yourself.

How Plants Grow

The journey from seed to fruit is a fascinating one. Plants store just enough energy in a seed to produce two leaves and a small root system. This is all they need to successfully begin the process of photosynthesis, where they transform energy from the sun into sugars that they can use to grow. Try growing a pumpkin from a seed you saved yourself – it’s incredibly rewarding!

Backyard Ecosystems

Healthy gardens don’t grow in isolation. They are connected to many life forms, and each plays a unique role in the garden ecosystem.

It is fascinating to learn how nature creates balance. Bees pollinate flowers. Spiders, ladybugs, and wasps protect plants from pests. Earthworms improve the soil. Maybe you’d even like to learn how to be a backyard beekeeper!

Woodworking

Many children get excited at the prospect of hands-on learning opportunities. Possible woodworking projects for your garden include raised beds, birdhouses, mason bee homes, and backyard benches.

Physical Literacy

Gardening gives children a chance to practice moving their bodies in big and small ways. Young children may enjoy practicing gross motor skills by watering, digging, and raking, while older children can test their fine motor skills through tasks like transplanting, seed sowing, and weeding.

Emotional Maturity

Taking care of a garden is rewarding, but it can also be a lot of work. Beds need to be weeded. Veggies need regular watering. These tasks can be good opportunities to teach kids about responsibility. If they want to grow great tomatoes, they need to commit to doing the work.

As gardeners, they will also need to be patient. It takes time to grow a vegetable garden.

Gardening Decreases Allergies in Children

gardening-decreases-allergies
Time to get your hands dirty!

A study conducted at Harvard Medical School discovered that exposing children to gardens and outdoor play while they are young may play a role in preventing allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

We are surrounded by all sorts of microbes and bacteria all of the time. Some are harmful, but most are not. When children are young, their bodies are deciding which microbes pose a danger and which do not.

If children are not exposed to a wide variety of microbes, they are more likely to have conditions like allergies because their body is responding too aggressively towards harmless microbes. So, let them get a little messy outdoors. It might help them later in life.

3. Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

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The Antidepressant Properties of Soil Microbes

Whether you’ve realized it or not, we owe a great deal of our gardening joy to soil microbes. They are critical building blocks of healthy plants. Microbes not only help plants take up nutrients and defend themselves from disease; believe it or not, they can have a big impact on mental health too.

A study conducted by researchers from Bristol University and University College London in 2007 discovered that one very common soil microbe, mycobacterium vaccae, actually makes you happier. The microbe enters your body through your skin when you handle dirt or through your lungs when you inhale dirt particles in the air.

Once inside your body, this lovable microbe encourages the production of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is often called the “happy” hormone because it lowers stress levels, increases happiness, and improved focus. Mycobacterium vaccae is kind of like nature’s Prozac. Neat, right?

The Joys of Harvesting Your Own Food

I work with children, and one thing that experience has taught me is: all children love scavenger hunts. It doesn’t matter if they’re three or thirteen; scavenger hunts are always a huge hit. (To be completely honest, I still love a good scavenger hunt, so perhaps age isn’t the factor here.)

The reason we love the feeling of finding that object we’ve been searching for goes back thousands of years to the hunter-gather days of early humans. Our brains have evolved to give us a little boost of dopamine every time we successfully find and harvest something of value: namely food.

That’s why every time you go out to your garden and collect veggies for your dinner, you’re also getting that little hit of dopamine; that feeling of success. There is nothing more natural than harvesting your own food, and your brain will reward you for it by giving you uplifting, mood-boosting chemicals.

benefits-of-growing-your-own-food
Ah, the reward!

On the topic of scavenger hunts, there is no better scavenger hunt in the world than foraging for wild mushrooms. To me, fall represents an entire season of romping around in the bush with my dog, avidly scanning the ground for those tell-tale indicators.

I’m a chanterelle girl, but the mushrooms you find depend on climate. As always, when you pick mushrooms, you take no chances. As they say, “There are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.”

So, get the right guidebooks, go with someone who knows the craft, and pay attention to your surroundings. When done safely, mushroom hunting is great fun!

4. Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

benefits-of-growing-vegetable-gardens
Passionfruit, cucumbers, and tomatoes… Heaven on earth.

When the Coronavirus took hold of the world earlier this year, one of the first things people did was turn to gardening. Garden supply stores quickly ran out of transplants and seed packets, seed companies acquired month-long waitlists, and soil and compost sellers never had an idle moment in their Bobcats.

With looming anxiety on the horizon around food security, people turned to vegetable gardening as a way to prepare for an uncertain future. The self-sufficiency that comes with knowing how to grow your own food is incredibly empowering.

A garden takes very little capital to begin. Most seed packets cost just a couple of dollars. You have the option of building raised beds from whatever is available to you (reclaimed cedar fence boards are my favorite), or keeping it even simpler and turning over a section of your yard and planting directly in the ground.

Growing your own vegetables means that you have a free source of food close to home, and you can vouch for the way that food was grown — free from chemicals and harmful pesticides, if that’s your wish. Food grown in a backyard garden tends to have better flavor as well because it is left to ripen on the plant for longer.

Gardening is a rare hobby because it can become exponentially cheaper the longer you do it. I often save seed from my garden, which means that I do not need to purchase certain types of seed the following year.

Radish, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and squash seeds are easy to collect. You will also want to make sure that you save seed from the best plants in your garden. This increases the odds of having strong, healthy plants next year.

5. Benefits of School and Community Gardens

benefits-of-school-community-gardens

Community Gardens Build Connection

Community gardens are a great place to meet neighbors and build connections. You may think that sharing a garden with strangers would be the worst. Others could take more than their fair share of the produce. Worst of all, there’s small talk with strangers.

Interestingly enough, the strangers you meet may be the best part of community gardening.

Psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago performed an experiment with train passengers. He had noticed that when most people board a train, they sit down and do not talk to each other. Considering that humans are one of the most social animals on Earth, this is sort of bizarre.

So, Epley conducted an experiment where passengers were instructed to do either one of three things:

  • Group A: Make conversation with others
  • Group B: Act as they normally would on their commute
  • Group C: Avoid conversation with others

Consistently, participants in the first group indicated that they had had a better train ride. It didn’t matter if the people in group A were naturally chatty or shy; across the board, people enjoyed connecting, even if it was only for a few moments and even if it was with strangers.

Epley also discovered that the longer the conversation lasted, the more joy it brought the passengers.

Like the train in the experiment, community gardens provide opportunities to meet new people, share pearls of wisdom, enjoy moments of connection, and feel as though you are part of a larger community.

Detroit: How Community Gardens Can Transform a City

detroit-community-gardening-transformed-city

Detroit, Michigan is a city that has taken the community garden to the next level. In the 1950s, Detroit was a major center of industrial production, but as production has moved to other parts of the world, Detroit’s economy has changed.

Many businesses and citizens followed jobs out of Detroit, leaving the city in an unusual position where more than 25% of the city is vacant, and there is a remarkable shortage of grocery stores. The Michigan Department of Agriculture has used the term “food desert” to describe more than a dozen neighborhoods within the city that are exceptionally far from grocery stores.

As such, many Detroiters rely on convenience stores and fast-food restaurants as the main source of food. The result is that Detroit has one of the highest rates of obesity and diet-related illness in the nation.

So what is Detroit doing about its food crisis?

They’re gardening.

Because so much land is vacant, Detroit has plenty of space to create community gardens. With several key non-profits at the helm of this movement, more than 1,400 urban gardens have been created within the city.

The results are incredible. 2016 yielded more than 300,000 pounds of produce. These community gardens provide many low-income residents with access to nutritious, delicious food on a by-donation basis.

Detroit also uses its community garden spaces for community projects such as beekeeping clubs and water conservation initiatives.

Community gardens really are transforming the city of Detroit. Imagine what a community garden could do for people in your own neighborhood!

6. Benefits of Gardening for the Environment

benefits-of-gardening-for-environment

Your Garden Minimizes Your Carbon Footprint

Gardens are more than just a place to fill your plate and revitalize your body and mind; they can be a commitment to building a cleaner planet. Did you know that food production makes up 25% of global carbon emissions? That’s 13.7 billion metric tons of carbon each year!

About half of that comes from raising, feeding, and processing meat. Of the different types of livestock, cattle are particularly bad from an emissions standpoint because they consume so many resources and produce so much methane.

Foods like meat, cheese, and eggs tend to have the highest carbon footprints whereas fruits and vegetables tend to be some of the lowest.

When you grow a garden, you are:

  • Increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet, which reduces the need to eat as much meat
  • Eliminating the need for the single-use plastics that would have packaged your produce
  • Reducing the number of miles your food travels to get to your home

On average, most meals travel around 1,500 miles before arriving on your plate. So, backyard gardening can make a big impact on your carbon footprint for this reason alone.

Backyard gardening is also an opportunity to commit to organic gardening techniques that avoid the use of chemicals that can negatively impact your environment and harm local wildlife.

Gardening Saves Bees

gardening-saves-bees

Bees pollinate about 80% of cultivated crops, and they are integral to life as we know it. Without bees, plants would not be able to produce vegetables and fruits. Animals and people would have less to eat, and the results would be catastrophic.

Yet, bees are also very susceptible to chemicals, particularly neonics.

Neonics are pesticides commonly used in the production of crops like canola, soy, and corn. In the European Union, these chemicals are banned, but they are still used in many places in the world.

Another challenge bees regularly face is insufficient nectar flow. They take nectar and pollen back to their hive where they transform it into honey. That honey serves as their main food source throughout the winter.

As a gardener, you have a unique opportunity to make choices that greatly benefits the lives of bees within your neighborhood.

Here are four things you can try at home to support bees in your community:

Go Organic

The bees will thank you for not using pesticides in your garden. While it may be tempting to use chemicals to manage pest problems, you have to remember that the chemicals you introduce into your garden can affect all kinds of beneficial insects too.

Maximize Your Nectar Flow

With a bit of careful planning and by planting a wide variety of plants, vegetables, and fruits, you can create a garden where something is always in bloom. This isn’t just beautiful. It also means that bees visiting your garden will always have something to eat.

Replacing a portion of your lawn with wildflower mix is a fun, whimsical way of supporting bees. Wildflowers tend to be drought-tolerant, no-fuss plants. They even self-sow, so you can enjoy them for many years in a row. Flowering plants also attract butterflies to your garden, with their own benefits.

Some companies sell special “pollinator mixes” that are designed to bloom all summer. I have one sown around the border of my garden. It’s a real treat to watch this mix grow because it constantly changes as new blooms appear to fill in the gaps where others have just expired.

Make Bee Watering Stations

Bees are hard workers. On a typical day, they make five to fifteen trips from their hive, and each trip is around a kilometer each direction. For a bee, that’s quite a distance!

Just as we do, they need places to rest and have a drink of water. Making a bee watering station is a simple and beautiful way to support bees on their workday.

Bee watering stations need two key features: a landing pad and shallow water. I like to use large clam shells with pebbles placed inside them. I put them around the bottom of my plants where they will be filled when I water my plants each morning.

You can also use a teacup with stones in it or a design of your own invention.

Designate Space for Native Bees

Everyone has heard of the honeybee, but the honey bee is just one of the thousands of bee species. Many bee species are actually solitary ground-nesting bees that prefer to live alone in small holes in the sand.

For years, there was an area of my yard that I referred to as “The Desert.” It is bone dry, devoid of vegetation, and I would challenge you to find a difference between my desert and the Sahara.

Winnie-desert-benefits-gardening
Winnie loves “The Desert”

Interesting enough, my desert is the busiest area in my yard, in terms of insect activity. I often feel the need to hire an air traffic controller because it is almost impossible to walk through this section of the yard without dozens of black and yellow striped bugs pinging off your ankles. Although it’s a bit frightening, I have never been stung.

After attending a local beekeeping meeting, I learned that these were actually a form of native bee. In fact, many of the people at the meeting were hanging Mason bee houses in their yard to attract these little guys.

When you are laying out your garden, consider leaving sandy areas alone. They may be doing far more good than you realized. Even if these bees are not a variety that pollinates vegetables, they could be responsible for the pollination of native plants in your area.

So, now that you know gardening improves mental and physical health, provides tons of learning opportunities for kids, supports local wildlife, builds your sense of community, and reduces your carbon footprint, you’ve probably started to wonder how to start a garden of your own.

Begin with baby steps. Put some pots on your window sill and start with some herbs. Plant a simple garden with lettuce, radish, and beans. Scatter some wildflower seeds in your yard. Check out articles like this one about How to Start a Survival Garden and Vital Things to Know Before Starting a Garden.

Anyone can garden. It just takes a little patience. The rewards you reap from gardening are well worth the effort you put in.

Categories
Urban Farming

The Advantages of Home Gardens

Easy Access to Produce

A home garden gives you instant access to fresh produce, so that you’re not forced to visit the grocery store or farmers market to find it. You save time and money on gasoline rather than driving somewhere else to buy your produce. Depending on the type of vegetables you plant, you’ll also save money on the food itself.

Growing vegetables at home does cost money on seeds and supplies, such as fertilizer, but a single plant often produces lots of produce, so that you often save money by growing your own. A backyard garden opens up new flavoring options or recipes. For example, if you feel like serving salsa but don’t have a jar on hand, you can use tomatoes, peppers and onions from your garden to make your own.

Among the benefits of gardening for students and kids, The University of Vermont notes that those who grow their own food tend to eat more fresh produce. Having a hand in the production of fruits and vegetables increases the likelihood that kids will experiment with new foods.

Control over Inputs

Growing your own food gives you complete control over the chemicals and products used during the growing process. Organic produce typically costs more at the grocery store, but you can grow your own organic fruits and vegetables at home by skipping the chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

A home garden allows you to pick the produce when it is ripe, unlike produce at the store that is often harvested before it is fully ripe. The flavor and quality of the freshly picked produce from a home garden is superior to store-bought produce with unknown chemicals that was likely picked several days or weeks before being sold. The produce retains more nutrients when consumed shortly after harvesting, making your homegrown vegetables a healthier option.

Less Environmental Impact

A garden provides the opportunity to make a positive environmental impact. A compost pile allows you to recycle certain kitchen and yard waste products into a nutrient-rich additive for the garden. This reduces the waste you produce and provides natural fertilizer for your plants.

If you choose to avoid or limit chemical use, you reduce pollution and groundwater contamination from your gardening activities. Garden plants often help reduce erosion by holding the soil in place. Mulching around plants in your home garden further reduces erosion and runoff.

The importance of gardening at home extends beyond human health and diets. Planting native species and plants that provide food and shelter for wildlife helps support the birds and other animals that live among us, notes PennState Extension.

Benefits of Gardening as Hobby

For many homeowners, planting a garden provides enjoyment. Watching your garden go from bare ground to ripe produce or beautiful plants offers a sense of satisfaction. Some gardeners find the activity relaxing and stress-relieving, for overall mental health benefits.

Caring for the plants gives the entire family a chance to work together. If you have neighbors who also garden, the activity sometimes offers social interaction. Gardening also offers a form of moderate outdoor exercise.

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Urban Farming

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

Planting flowers and vegetables can reap bountiful bouquets and delicious harvests for your dining table. But did you know gardening also can do wonders for your well-being? Here are eight surprising health benefits of gardening.

1. Gardening can build self-esteem. 

Maybe you don’t think you were born with a green thumb, but after tilling, planting, nurturing and harvesting plants, you might see a slightly different person in the mirror: a person who can grow things and is a little more in tune with the earth. 

It always feels good to accomplish new tasks, and if you can grow a garden, what can’t you do?

2. Gardening is good for your heart. 

All that digging, planting and weeding burns calories and strengthens your heart. 

“There are physical benefits from doing the manual labor of gardening,” says UNC Health internal medicine physician Robert Hutchins, MD, MPH. “It’s hard work to garden, and it provides some cardiovascular benefit.”

3. Gardening reduces stress.

Gardening can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

“Gardening gives you a chance to focus on something and put your mind to work with a goal and a task in mind,” Dr. Hutchins says, “which is helpful especially now with so much illness and death and talk of death, just to see things growing and things thriving.” 

4. Gardening can make you happy. 

Getting dirt under your nails while digging in the ground can make you pretty happy. In fact, inhaling M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, can increase levels of serotonin and reduce anxiety. 

5. Gardening can improve your hand strength.  

All that digging, planting and pulling does more than produce plants. Gardening also will increase your hand strength. What a great way to keep your hands and fingers as strong as possible for as long as possible.

6. Gardening is good for the whole family.

Gardening can be a solo activity or an opportunity for bonding with your family and friends. The happiness and stress relief that gardening provides is a great thing to share with loved ones. Also, gardening has special benefits for kids. Early exposure to dirt has been linked to numerous health benefits, from reducing allergies to autoimmune diseases.

7. Gardening can give you a boost of vitamin D. 

A healthy dose of vitamin D increases your calcium levels, which benefits your bones and immune system. Exposure to sunlight helped older adults achieve adequate amounts of vitamin D. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.

8. Growing your own food can help you eat healthier. 

If you have a vegetable or herb or fruit garden, you’re getting fresh produce that you know hasn’t been treated with pesticides.

“It’s essentially as farm-to-table as it gets,” Dr. Hutchins says, “if you’re eating what you’re growing.”

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Urban Farming

Seed, Soil, and Sun: Discovering the Many Healthful Benefits of Gardening

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, as lockdowns put millions out of work and headlines forecast food shortages, anxious Americans picked up their rakes and spades.

Many people were cut off from social gatherings. They were worried about bare shelves and contaminated grocery stores. And they needed something to occupy schoolchildren.

In response, record numbers of people began cultivating coronavirus victory gardens. In a matter of weeks, seeds, seedlings, and fruit trees sold out online and in gardening centers.

As it turns out, the impulse to garden is actually a great idea — whether or not you’re coping with a crisis — because gardening is one of the healthiest hobbies you can develop. Keep reading to learn about the many benefits of gardening, for you and your community.

Outdoor gardening can help your body fight disease

You’re more like a plant than you may realize. Your body is capable of photosynthesis — the process where plants make their own food using sunlight.

Your skin uses sunlight to make one of the nutrients you need: vitamin DResearchersTrusted Source estimate that a half hour in the sun can produce between 8,000 and 50,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in your body, depending on how much your clothes cover and the color of your skin.

Vitamin D is essential for literally hundreds of body functions — strengthening your bones and your immune system are just two of them. StudiesTrusted Source have also shown that being out in the sun can help lower your risk of:

If your vitamin D levels are low, you have a greater risk of developing psoriasis flares, metabolic syndrome (a prediabetes condition), type II diabetes, and dementia, as well.

All of these factors have to be balanced against the risk of skin cancer from overexposure to the sun’s rays, of course. But the science is clear: A little sunshine in the garden goes a very long way in your body.

Gardening builds strength, promotes sleep, and helps you maintain a healthy weight

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source says gardening is exercise. Activities like raking and cutting grass might fall under the category of light to moderate exercise, while shoveling, digging, and chopping wood might be considered vigorous exercise.

Either way, working in a garden uses every major muscle group in the body. This fact won’t surprise anyone who’s woken up sore after a day of yardwork.

Studies have found that the physical exertion of working in a garden may help offset both age-related weight gainTrusted Source and childhood obesityTrusted Source. And researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reported that people who garden are more likely to get a solid 7 hours of sleep at night.https://9a87217f6b678f667e3b79b02d2e3164.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Gardening can help protect your memory as you get older 

Doctors have also known for some time that exercise improves cognitive functioning in the brain. There’s some debate about whether gardening on its own is enough to affect cognitive skills like memory. But new evidence shows that gardening activities may spur growth in your brain’s memory-related nerves.

Researchers in Korea gave 20-minute gardening activities to people being treated for dementia in an inpatient facility. After the residents had raked and planted in vegetable gardens, researchers discovered increased amounts of some brain nerve growth factors associated with memory in both males and females.

In a 2014 research review, analysts found that horticultural therapy — using gardening to improve mental health — may be an effective treatment for people with dementia.

In fact, in the Netherlands and Norway, people with dementia often participate in groundbreaking Greencare programs, where they spend a large part of the day working on farms and in gardens.

Gardening is a mood booster

Studies in the United States and abroad have found that gardening improves your mood and increases your self-esteem. When people spend time in a garden, their anxiety levels drop and they feel less depressed.

In a multi-year study published in 2011Trusted Source, people with depression participated in a gardening intervention for 12 weeks. Afterward, researchers measured several aspects of their mental health, including depression symptoms, finding that all of them were significantly improved. And those improvements lasted for months after the intervention ended.ADVERTISEMENT

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Gardening calms you after stressful events

Working in a garden can help you recuperate if you’ve experienced something stressful.

In a 2011 study, researchers exposed study participants to a stressful activity. Then they asked half the group to spend time quietly reading and the other half to spend time gardening.

When researchers tested the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, they found that the gardening group had recovered from the stress better than the reading group. The gardening group also reported that their moods had returned to a positive state — while fewer of the readers had.https://9a87217f6b678f667e3b79b02d2e3164.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Gardening is an effective tool if you’re recovering from addiction

Horticultural therapy has been around for millennia, so it probably won’t surprise you to learn that working with plants is part of many addiction recovery programs.

In one study, researchers noted that plants provoked positive feelings in people recovering from alcohol addiction, and were an effective rehabilitation tool.

In another studyTrusted Source, people in an addiction rehabilitation program were given an opportunity to participate in natural recovery, where they were allowed to choose either art or gardening as their natural therapy. People who chose gardening completed the rehab program at a higher rate and reported a more satisfying experience than those who chose art.

Family and community gardens foster feelings of connection

School gardens, family gardens, and community gardens are sprouting everywhere. The reason these small local gardens are flourishing may have as much to do with human interaction as it does with the produce.

In one studyTrusted Source, students who participated in school gardens took photos of their work and shared what they experienced. Students reported that the skills they learned and relationships they formed gave them a sense of personal well-being.

Working in a garden with people of different ages, abilities, and backgrounds is a way to expand both what you know and who you know.

Tending to a young gardener?

Share these books with the growing readers in your life:

You can find these books at your local library or bookstore, or order them online by clicking the above links.

Gardening can give you a sense of agency and empowerment

Growing your own garden has, historically, been a way to resist injustice and claim space in a world that doesn’t always respond to your needs.

During the forced internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps in the American West, thousands of gardens sprang up behind the barbed wire enclosures. Stone gardens, vegetable gardens, ornamental landscapes with waterfalls and ponds — each cultivated to reclaim both land and cultural identity.

In an ecofeminist study entitled “Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance in Detroit,” researcher Monica White describes the work of eight Black women who looked at gardening as a way to push back against “the social structures that have perpetuated inequality in terms of healthy food access,” allowing them “to create outdoor, living, learning, and healing spaces for themselves and for members of the community.”

As they plowed neglected land and cultivated crops in the midst of barren food deserts, these gardeners were simultaneously improving their own health outcomes, fighting against unresponsive corporate food suppliers, and building a sense of self-determination.

If you’re looking for a way to combat inequities in the food system — or any injustice in your own life — you can begin with this powerful act: Grow something of your own.

Read more about gardening from authors of color

You can find these books at your local library or bookstore, or order them online by clicking the above links.

Gardening can help you manage ecoanxiety

The American Psychological Association echoes the findings of numerous researchers: For many people, watching the gradual, unchecked effects of climate change is increasing daily stress levels and creating a burdensome sense of guilt.

One of the most difficult aspects of this ecoanxiety? ResearchersTrusted Source say it’s the feeling that you’re powerless to do anything about it.

To combat the negative health effects of ecoanxiety, you can garden with the aim of mitigating climate change. The National Wildlife Foundation recommends these actions if you want to cut carbon on your own — and in doing so, cut down on your own environmental anxiety:

  • Use manual tools instead of gas-powered ones.
  • Use drip lines, rain barrels, and mulch to cut your water consumption.
  • Compost to reduce waste and decrease methane production.
  • Turn your yard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
  • Plant trees to absorb carbon dioxide.

You’ll need to take care of yourself while gardening

As is true of almost any activity, gardening poses certain risks to your health and safety. The CDC recommends that you take these precautions while you’re in the garden:

  • Pay attention to product directions any time you’re using chemicals in the garden. Some pesticides, weed killers, and fertilizers can be dangerous if used incorrectly.
  • Wear gloves, goggles, long pants, closed-toe shoes, and other safety gear, especially if you’re using sharp tools.
  • Use bug spray and sunscreen.
  • Drink lots of water and take frequent shade breaks to prevent overheating.
  • Keep a close eye on children. Sharp tools, chemicals, and outdoor heat may pose more of a threat to kids.
  • Listen to your body. It’s easy to injure yourself when you’re toting bags of mulch and hoisting shovels full of dirt.
  • Make sure you have a tetanus vaccination once every 10 years, as tetanus lives in the soil.

Key takeaways 

Gardening invites you to get outside, interact with other gardeners, and take charge of your own need for exercise, healthy food, and beautiful surroundings.

If you’re digging, hauling, and harvesting, your physical strength, heart health, weight, sleep, and immune systems all benefit. And those are just the physiological outcomes. Gardening can also cultivate feelings of empowerment, connection, and creative calm.

Whether your patch is large or small, a raised bed, community garden, or window box, getting dirty and eating clean are good for you.https://www.myfinance.com/r/ssr/b302b093-ab49-4be7-87fb-3ca37b8c0cd3?utm_campaign=hl-genhealth&utm_medium=embed&selector=%23m14fa93db-6e16-4690-8d84-3ff273e2e8f6+%3E+div+%3E+div&csid=fb2ac8ba-311b-4e49-9676-147986c82382&caid=5c3ca7dd-3e4a-4163-afe8-eea5c83e2e8f&ciid=e391b231-34ad-4895-ae79-02d2065b329f&tenant=wk_1Tqf7EYzOKyxm4Gvq042rU0Uky0&srckey=src_1Tqf7BF96WTbG5QbUndHWIgKoFo&cxsid=fdbda5ee-f653-4b8e-8e18-d4254fd55c81&mf_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.healthline.com%2Fhealth%2Fhealthful-benefits-of-gardening&_mfuuid_=25d3b71c-3677-40b1-a9f3-d00156a6237a&width=750&subId=multipartner_genhealth_widget_hl_bot_33340

Last medically reviewed on June 17, 2020

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5 Easy Houseplants to Love, Based on Your Mental Health Needs

Plants are nature’s notification to give yourself more space in this world.

Design by Andie Hodgson

I’m not a mom to a countless number of plants yet, but I’m on my way to that title.

Initially, when I began to adorn a small corner of my house with tiny, leafy plants and a few succulents, it was solely for the purpose of accessorizing and livening up my house.

However, after dedicating time to nurturing my plants on an almost daily basis, I began to realize that they’re more than just a means to reach my household aesthetic goal.

They’re practically like my kids

After all, I had to look out for them as I would myself.

Much like every other being, plants require a certain amount of attention in order to thrive. At times when I wasn’t doing my best, the brown, shriveled ends of my plants’ leaves reflected my pain and vice versa.

PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF PLANTS

Besides instantly boosting a home’s aesthetic, studies show that being surrounded by greenery can help with cleaning the surrounding air, creating a sense of well-being, and enhancing your life.

When I realized the correlation between plants and self-care, I researched my current plants (as well as others I plan to add to my home).

Turns out, my gains aren’t arbitrary. Plants can reflect our lives in more ways than one and help us acclimate during difficult times.

Find out which plant is calling to you — based on your personality

But not all plants bring joy, especially high-maintenance ones. Some also speak to us in hard times more than others.

I rounded up a list of plants and dug into their personalities. Find out which ones are calling out to you based on their benefits, as well as efforts and attention you want to give.

1. For a reminder to break toxic ties, try aloe vera

Aloe vera is probably my favorite house plant simply because it has so many benefits and is easy to care for. If you’re the type to give a lot (emotionally, monetarily, or physically) to others, you and aloe vera may make the perfect pairing.

While you can cut off the leaves to herbally treatTrusted Source and improveTrusted Source skin wounds (burns, cuts, scars, and inflammation), aloe vera is also a powerful plant that can purify the air around you. It’s not the same as an air filter, but it can help with detoxing your air of harmful chemicals.

Aloe vera and you: During the repotting process, you may have to trim away any dead pieces that are no longer contributing to its growth.

Doing this can serve as reminder of your own growth: as you approach different life stages, you sometimes have to let go of who or what may be stopping you from thriving.

And as you continue to learn more about yourself and experience new things in life, it might be necessary to replant yourself. Make choices that help you continue to grow into the person you want to be.

Caring for aloe vera

  • Where to put it: To take advantage of aloe vera’s benefits, place this power plant in the kitchen or bathroom, which is where most household chemicals are. Because aloe vera can grow to be a very large plant, it’s common to have to replant it in a bigger pot where it’s able to continue to grow to its fullest capacity.
  • How to care for it: This low-maintenance plant does well being watered on a weekly basis and soaking in some sun. Not a lot of light? It can still work its magic under indirect sunlight when placed on a window sill.

2. For a reminder to relax and stay calm, try lavender

This plant is very easy on the eyes, smells delightful, and is the source of one of the most popular essential oils. For those who forget to unwind or take a few seconds for themselves, especially at the end of the day, lavender (and its powerful scent) is for you.

Although it’s not considered to be a traditional houseplant, lavender offers a ton of benefitsTrusted Source that’ll make just about everyone want to keep some version of it around.

The floral smell is effectiveTrusted Source at decreasing anxiety and providing a calm atmosphere.

Topically, it’s also great to add to your beauty routine due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory propertiesTrusted Source.

Lavender and you: Close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or when you want to get a good night’s rest. As you inhale the relaxing scent, it’ll help calm you down.

During the warmer spring months, move your lavender plant outside as it helps the plant to catch some fresh rays of sunshine. While you’re at it, take in a few moments outside to get your own dose of vitamin D as well.

Caring for lavender

  • Where to put it: Place your lavender plant on a night stand in your bedroom so it’s one of the last things you see before drifting away to sleep.
  • How to care for it: It’s best to keep the plant in a bright area and water it when the soil is dry to the touch. Too much watering can shorten its life span.

SIDE EFFECTS OF LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL

Always dilute lavender oil before applying directly to your skin. Research shows that it may be a hormone disruptor.

3. For a reminder to maintain a work-life balance, try peace lilies

Here’s another natural purifier to add to the list: peace lilies. This gorgeous plant improves the flow of energy in the home as it neutralizes harmful indoor chemicals. It’s also believed to help people flourish mentally, physically, and spiritually.

If you’re into astrology, you’ll appreciate that peace lilies have a delicate and gentle appearance but are extremely strong and deep-rooted, akin to the energy exuded by people born under the Cancer zodiac sign.

Peace lilies and you: Peace lilies symbolize peace, tranquility, prosperity, purification, and solitude. Because peace lilies have such powerful symbolism, speak positive affirmations to your plants. Only say what you, yourself, would want to hear.

Caring for peace lilies

  • Where to put it: Keep it in your bedroom or work office to help balance all of the energies in your space. If talking to your plant is a little out-of-the-box, let its presence be a reminder to you to think life-affirming thoughts.
  • How to care for it: This beautiful plant requires indirect sunlight and water once a week or when the soil is dry to the touch.

4. For a reminder to survive and thrive during hard times, try a snake plant

Known to provide a strong protective energy in your space, snake plants are extremely durable and require very little attention in order to grow.

For easy-going folk who need a reminder of how resilient they are when times get tough, snake plants are here for you. Snake plants are easy-going and the ideal plant to keep in observation. Meaning: they require little attention and still thrive under a little pressure — just like a Libra!

This plant is unique because it has the ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, meaning that if you live in an area with no air flow, having quite a few snake plants around you may help sanitize the oxygen in your space!

Snake plants and you: Snake plants serve as a reminder that even when you may feel alone or experiencing a difficult time, you can still choose to grow through and survive even the hardest situations.

When you see this plant, find a quiet spot in your home to sit down next to it, close your eyes, breathe in the cool, clean air it provides, and find your peace.

Caring for snake plants

  • Where to put it: Keep your snake plant in the bedroom where you’re likely to get most of your rest or any other room in your home. One of the most beautiful things about this plant in particular is that no matter where it’s placed in your space and even if it’s neglected for a few weeks, it will still provide you with clean air as it grows resiliently.
  • How to care for it: Simply water it every couple of weeks to keep the soil moist. It’s pretty hard to kill, which makes it an easy plant to care for regardless of experience.

5. For a reminder to stay present, try a eucalyptus

This popular plant is known not only for its distinct, pleasant aroma, but also for its ability to help treat asthma, colds, and congestion.

Eucalyptus and you: For those who need a reminder to appreciate the present and what the day will bring, the eucalyptus is the ideal plant. Take a few moments to inhale its healing and powerful scent. Doing this brings you back into the present moment.

Remember that this present moment is all you have. Don’t think about what happened yesterday as you can’t change that, and don’t concern yourself with tomorrow’s to-do list because all you have is this very moment. Enjoy.

Caring for eucalyptus

  • Where to put it: If you find yourself feeling a little under the weather, you can create a eucalyptus “bath bouquet” to bring to the shower. By placing a eucalyptus bundle around your shower head and allowing the steam and heat to rise, it’ll release the plant’s fresh fragrance into the atmosphere.
  • How to care for it: Eucalyptus requires full sunlight and needs to be watered regularly.

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The extra, life-enhancing benefits of loving a plant

Besides instantly boosting a home’s artistic appearance, studies show that being surrounded by such greenery can help clean the surrounding air, create a sense of well-being, and enhance your lifeTrusted Source.

Benefits of plants

  • Lowers levels of anxiety. Constantly seeing and being around plants helps people feel more calm and relaxed, thus decreasing levels of anxiety.
  • Increases attentiveness and memory. Being around plants, whether at home or work, helps improve memory and attention span by 20 percent and can increase concentration.
  • Increases productivityThis study shows that employees were more productive when just a few houseplants were added to their workspace.
  • Reduces stress levels and boosts mood. Caring for plants can reduce physiological and psychological stressTrusted Source as compared with mental work. This may be because caring for plants suppresses sympathetic nervous system activity and promotes comfortable, relaxed, and natural feelings.
  • Sparks creativity. People are 15 percent more creative when surrounded by greenery and natural elements.

Caring for your plants is essentially a reminder to care for yourself

When I struggled mentally and found it hard to take care of myself, my plants suffered because I wasn’t caring for them either. However, when they’re happy and green, it usually means I’m more attentive to myself and taking care of my physical and emotional needs.

When I am able to witness the way my plant’s leaves naturally unfurl to receive the sunlight, I get an instant boost of happiness. It reminds me to do what I find fulfilling, instead of solely focusing on my obligations. It’s a reminder to always keep going and keep growing.


Shawna Davis is a wellness journalist and the founder and creator of the wellness lifestyle blog, Froing and Flowing. Beyond the blog, she is a certified yoga instructor, wife, dog mama, and natural hair enthusiast who’s passionate about health, wellness, and natural beauty. You can follow her on Instagram.

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FEEDBACK:Written by Shawna Davis — Updated on July 28, 2020

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How Gardening Helps My Anxiety and 4 Steps to Get Started

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Even people without a green thumb can find a sense of calm.

How we see the world shapes who we choose to be — and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.

What’s the equivalent of a green thumb for anxiety? A shaking thumb? That’s me.

I’ve lived with anxiety and depression since childhood, and it’s an ongoing challenge to find new ways to cope. From therapy and stress management classes to exercise (when I’m not too depressed to do so) and medications, I’ve been working at it for a long time.

Still, I realize every day that there’s something new I can try to improve my overall well-being and reduce my anxiety levels.

Enter gardening.

My anxiety brings on obsessive negative thought patterns, excessive worrying, and paralyzing panic attacks. Gardening delivers sustenance, beauty, and self-esteem — all counterpoints to my anxiety.ADVERTISEMENTExplore new calming exercises with Calm

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The benefits of gardening for your mental health

I know what you must be thinking: Gardening? If you don’t already have an interest in nurturing plants, you might mostly know it as your parents’ or grandmother’s favorite way to spend a weekend. But gardening — and its rewards — are for everyone.

In fact, it may provide some mental health benefits for you.

Studies have found gardening and horticultural therapy can:

  • reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • improve attention
  • interrupt harmful ruminations, a symptom of anxiety
  • lower cortisol, the stress hormone
  • lower BMI
  • increase overall life satisfaction and quality of life

Soil has even been described as having antidepressant properties. Researchers found that bacteria found in the soil actually helped activate brain cells that could produce serotonin. That’s a pretty incredible addition to the sense of presence and mindfulness that gardening can bring.

Gardening has even been used as therapy across a number of different populations. For example, one study found gardening enhanced the psychosocial well-being of people in prison — and can even reduce recidivism rates.

Gardening, like other art therapies, differs from traditional therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), because it’s more indirectly beneficial. Rather than working through all of your problems with words, you cope with your hands.

Your plant could be hanging from a hook on your ceiling, and yet there’s something about gardening that’s so grounding. Gardening can focus your thoughts, keep your hands busy, and give you something to take care of in the future.

You can sow literal seeds as well as figurative ones for your self-esteem by developing a sense of purpose and achievement.

My thoughts feel clearer when I’ve finished digging through the dirt. And watching my plants grow feels a little like watching myself grow. I’m learning to cope with my anxiety as my cactus springs a flower.

Gardening doesn’t only have physical and mental therapeutic potential, but also utility. It gives me something in return: a beautiful patio, fresh herbs, or even homegrown veggies.

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How to get started

When I picked up my first plant, I’d had plenty of experience with anxiety. But gardening? Not so much. So, where do you begin?

1. Start easy

Remember, if you’re using gardening to soothe your anxiety, you don’t want to start with something that’ll lead to more stress.

My first plant, tulips, was a gift. Those tulips and I shared two very stressful weeks… until I forgot about them, and they died.

Depending on your environment or ability to maintain your plants, don’t start with a difficult plant or flower. Start with easy ones. Think succulents, like aloe vera, cacti, and jade.

Succulents are hardy. They’re often “hard to kill” (though, I can confirm, not impossible), and are easy to maintain in an urban space.

Good plants for first-time gardeners include:

  • lucky bamboo
  • air plants
  • snake plants
  • rubber plants
  • succulents

Herbs considered easier to grow include:

  • chives
  • mint
  • parsley
  • thyme

When evaluating what plants to get, do a quick search on the watering frequency and any special needs of the plants. Succulents, for instance, need infrequent watering and can do poorly if watered daily. Nursery employees can also be a great resource of information.

Shop for succulents.

Shop for an herb garden kit.

Shop for planters.

2. Evaluate your space

Now that you have some ideas for plant types, think about the kind of space or natural light you have to offer them.

Do you have a garden plot to work with? A balcony? Hanging space? Table space? A desk?

I never thought my tiny balcony could be a small garden oasis, but now I’m surrounded on all sides by a variety of plants. There will always be a plant happy to thrive in whatever space you have to offer.

The lighting situation is important. No matter how much we’d hope for the perfect amount of sun, many places (especially at certain points throughout the year) are plagued by too little or too much sun. But even with a lack of natural light, you can find the right plant for you.

Succulents can typically handle a lot of sun. Some types can even be grown indoors, especially during winter, as they prefer hotter climates. Lucky bamboo can handle low light, although it may not grow as much without bright light.

Don’t forget to make space for yourself near your plants to revel in your work — and their beauty. My garden surrounds a small table and chair where I can sit with a cup of tea in the morning and read in the company of my little green accomplishments.

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3. Don’t push yourself to pain

Don’t push yourself to garden in ways that will put you in pain. Remember, this is supposed to good for you, not painful.

If my back is aching or I’m tired after a physically or emotionally draining day, sometimes all I can do is lay a towel out and garden inside. Do what works for you.

If you have back issues, don’t force yourself to bend over a low-lying plot of dirt. Instead, use tall, raised beds, or focus on container gardening.

If you struggle with plants that need frequent watering, consider buying a self-watering pot or accessory that can make it as easy as possible.

Shop for self-watering pots.

Shop for gardening bench and kneeling pad.

4. Choose what makes you happy

Does gardening remind you of a loved one? Does the scent of a specific type of flower bring back joyful memories? Gardening can be a great opportunity to symbolize something special to you.

Consider picking scents, colors, or foods that make you happy. Think chamomile for a soothing scent and blues and greens for calming colors. Then choose the herbs or foods that would be beneficial for your kitchen, like basil or cucumbers.

I started with many succulents (green is coincidentally my favorite color) and basil for both the smell and taste.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’ll give your garden meaning and happiness.

Takeaway

Whether it’s watering a little desk plant, creating an urban or outdoor garden of your own, or simply taking more walks through nature, you can benefit from the plants around you.

Amid a day of anxiety, gardening makes me smile, gives me something to show for my efforts, and clears my mind.

Scientifically, gardening also comes with a number of health benefits that work to improve my anxiety.

Gardening is one of the most enjoyable tools in my arsenal that proves I have the power to control my mental health and anxiety. Having little successes — even if they’re shaped like a succulent — can truly calm your mind.

If you’re experiencing anxiety or have any other mental health concerns, check out our mental health resources for more information.


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Jamie is a copy editor who hails from Southern California. She has a love for words and mental health awareness and is always looking for ways to combine the two. She’s also an avid enthusiast for the three P’s: puppies, pillows, and potatoes. Find her on Instagram.ADVERTISEMENTGet help for anxiety today

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Last medically reviewed on November 9, 2018

FEEDBACK:

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Jamie Elmer — Updated on December 17, 2019