Categories
Urban Farming

10 Reasons Gardens Matter

Sunday was the official National Gardening Day, a day to mark appreciation for gardeners and gardening in what is for most of the country mid-spring. For us, it’s just another day of snow melting. But gardens matter, and for so many reasons. Here are 10 we think are particularly important:Japanese garden

Whether visiting a stunning garden, such as the Japanese Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, or enjoying a few quiet moments in your backyard, gardens improve our physical and emotional health.

1. It’s good for your health. The health benefits of gardening have been well-documented. Being outside increases your exposure to Vitamin D and the weight-bearing exercise of gardening is good for bones and the heart. One study even found that gardening decreases your risk of dementia!

2) You never have to stop! Gardeners can continue to grow plants and enjoy the hobby even as they get older. Some modifications may need to be made by raising beds to an easier height or going from a huge vegetable garden to a few containers, but the garden is endlessly adaptable.

3) It boosts your mood. I don’t know about you, but I always feel a little bit more cheery after a round of weeding or a half-hour or more spent planting or harvesting. It turns out it’s in the dirt. One study found that exposure to a bacteria common in soil increases levels of serotonin, the chemical that increases feelings of well-being.

4) Gardens matter for the planet. As more wild areas are disrupted for development, gardens become important places for water to be filtered or carbon to be sequestered by trees.  A recent study from the Smithsonian Institution highlighted the importance of native plants and native gardens particularly in maintaining the health of birds, bees and other insects.

5. Gardens matter for kids. We know this from our Garden-in-a-Box program. When children are given a chance to grow their own food, they feel a great sense of accomplishment. They love sharing the food with others and teaching others about gardening. Also, gardening helps forge relationships between generations. How many gardeners learned at the elbow of a parent or grandparent?

6. Gardens build community. I love a front yard garden (in fact, that’s the garden I’m working on this year) and one reason is that folks stop by to chat when you have a garden. Gardens inspire conversation and they build connections between neighbors. Garden clubs are a great way to share information and connect with folks who love plants just as much as you do!

7. Community gardens! The flip side of No. 6 is that community gardens also build community and gardeners. For 30 years, Minnesota Green has been the liaison between plant growers with excess plants and community gardens in need of plants and seeds. It’s been a joy to help more than 1,000 community gardens over the years.lettuce in pot

Greens are so easy to grow even in a container and so delicious!

8. The food! Food that is fresh from the garden tastes so much better than produce that has been sitting on a truck and then in the store for a couple of weeks. Which foods are the best to grow  in your garden? First, which ever fruits and vegetables you like to eat! After that, I like to look at the list of the Dirty Dozen—those foods most likely to carry a heavier pesticide load—so that means that this year, I’ll be growing kale and other greens, tomatoes (always!), potatoes, peppers and strawberries. I’ll also be growing a few things from the Clean 15 list (those with the lowest pesticide load) but that’s because I love homegrown cantaloupe!bee on crocus

Early blooms such as native ephemerals, crocus and dandelions provide important food for pollinators.

9. Gardens matter to pollinators. Pollinators are more than just honeybees — way, way more. In fact, it’s the native bees that do most of the pollination of plants in our area. Creating a garden that helps pollinators is not difficult. The three most important things: use mostly native plants, think about the full life cycle of the pollinator, and add water and shelter as well as nectar. Here are a few more tips.

10. It connects you to nature. As humans, we need that connection for our minds, our bodies and our spirits. Gardens really do matter.

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Urban Farming

The Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

There is no comparison between the taste of a garden fresh tomato and a grocery store bought one that’s devoid of flavor. The nature of the American food system is that grocery store produce has often been grown hundreds of miles away, meaning it can be days between harvest and your table. This process results in the quality of the produce often being compromised.

Though growing your own vegetables can seem overwhelming to some, it’s actually much simpler than it sounds. Even if you don’t have a yard, consider starting a patio garden or even an indoor herb garden on a windowsill. You’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers you can grow out of one pot!

If you still aren’t convinced, consider these benefits of backyard gardening:

  • Improve your health.  Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. When you pick vegetables right from your garden, the vitamin content will be at its highest. Also, you are reducing the risk of eating vegetables that contain harmful chemicals–you know exactly what you’re eating. In addition, getting kids involved in the gardening process will make it more likely for them to try the vegetables.
     
  • Save money on groceries. One of the benefits of enjoying garden vegetables is a reduced monthly food bill. You can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of the cost in the stores.
     
  • Get outdoor exercise. Gardening is a physical activity and pulling weeds, planting, and digging can burn up to 400 calories per hour. Gardening is also a good mental exercise and helps keep your mind sharp.
     
  • Gardening is a natural stress reliever. Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine can improve mood and make you feel rejuvenated and overall happy.  Growing your own produce also gives you a great sense of accomplishment.

Check out the links below for great tips on how to start your own home vegetable garden. Your body, wallet, and taste buds will thank you!

Categories
Urban Farming

The Benefits of Backyard Gardening

Have you ever eaten a tomato that tasted like dishwater? Does the idea of consuming spinach make you cringe? Do you avoid most vegetables because you think they taste terrible?

Now — the more important question — have you ever eaten vegetables and fruit from your own backyard?

There’s nothing wrong with buying food from a grocery store. However, if you really want the freshest food, nothing beats locally grown. The farmer’s market is a great choice, but there are also benefits to growing your own.

Gardening Gains:

Financial

Growing food can often save you money. There are, of course, initial startup costs. Depending on the space you have, you may need to buy pots, compost, soil, seeds, materials to make raised beds, etc. However, when you start to reap the rewards of your work, it can significantly cut down on grocery store costs.

Taste
raspberries, fruit, gardening, garden
Raspberries from my backyard. Photo by L. N. Holmes.

The big difference between a backyard tomato and a grocery store tomato is the taste. Tomatoes gain most of their flavor as they ripen on the vine. Farmers that provide tomatoes for grocery stores pick tomatoes while they are still green, which means the tomatoes ripen off the vine. It’s true for most produce that the closer to the source you can get it, the better it’s going to taste.

Physical

There are also physical benefits when it comes to gardening. For example, appropriate exposure to sunlight has health benefits. Shoveling, weeding, digging, planting, harvesting, etc. is also a good workout. With a big enough garden, it may even be able to replace your entire workout routine — at least in the spring.

Gardening Guidelines:

Soil

Good soil is key to healthy plants. Soft, black soil is often desirable. Soil with lots of clay will need more work and can be helped by adding compost. Some plants like soil that has been turned either by hand or rototiller. Other plants grow better with little disturbance to their environment. It’s important to do basic research on what you’re planting. Adding compost is often a good idea because it provides extra nutrients. Don’t be afraid of earthworms since they are a sign of healthy soil and will maintain your good soil.

Water
mantis, praying mantis, garden, tomatoes, gardening
The praying mantis that helps keep our tomatoes free of harmful bugs. Photo by L. N. Holmes.

Your plants need water. Plants that aren’t watered enough often grow weak and are more susceptible to disease. There is such a thing as overwatering and uneven watering, though. Tomatoes will split if they are watered unevenly. If the soil is too damp and too wet too often, you might encourage fungal growth, which can impede the health of your plants. If you live in a drought area, be careful about using too much water for your garden (consider drought-hardy plants).

Harvest

Different fruits and vegetables mature at different times. It’s important to know when your plants are ready. Most seed packages have an estimated amount of days from planting time to maturity. It’s also important to know how quickly to use produce after it is harvested. Some options for prolonging the shelf life for fresh produce are canning, drying, and freezing. (Freezing is my preference.) If you can things, make sure that you follow the directions exactly. Food-borne illnesses, like botulism, can occur if canning is done incorrectly, and it can be deadly.

Categories
Urban Farming

What is Urban Gardening?

Urban gardening is where people practice cultivation, mainly of food, in and around urban areas. Basically, it is the traditional cultivation of crops, but in urban centers.

With urbanization and since more and more people would like to do their farming where they are, urban gardening is considerably being taken up and has been a successful alternative – a shift from the traditional thinking that the cultivation of crops can only be done in the rural areas.923.6K125New Delhi most polluted capital for third year

women-doing-home-gardening
Source: Canva

As per Wikipedia,

“Urban agriculture, urban farming, or urban gardening is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around urban areas. Urban agriculture can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry, urban beekeeping, and horticulture. These activities occur in peri-urban areas as well, and peri-urban agriculture may have different characteristics.”https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The growth of plants in urban areas comes in many forms and is influenced by various factors such as land space, topography, capital requirements, and the type of plants. Urban gardening can, therefore, be done differently and includes aspects such as community gardens, urban farms, and aquaponics or hydroponics programs.

It is mainly characterized by the cultivation of crops such as fruits, vegetables, and the rearing of chicken and fish in the urban and peri-urban centers. It can be done in front and backyards, balconies, sunrooms, indoor greenhouses, rooftops, or patios.

Things such as containers, old tires, barrels, unused buckets, shoes, watering cans, window-boxes or kiddie pools can be used to grow food crops, fruits plants, or flowers.

Urban gardening is hence a venture that helps the urban communities in social and economic ways by stimulating the local economy and also serves as an effective means of securing a family’s food security.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

All these aspects make urban gardening a very interesting topic, and for this reason, here you can learn the importance of urban gardening as well as amazing tips and ideas for sustainable Urban Garden.

Contents [show]

Importance of Urban Gardening

1. It puts school lessons into practice and can boost children’s interest in agriculture

Urban agriculture gives students an opportunity to try things out at home and more so, put their class lessons into practice. Through urban gardening, they easily connect their lessons to real-world gardening and how it is done, thereby increasing their stock of knowledge about cultivating plants.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlREAD  Do Tulips Spread? (And How Do They Spread?)

Furthermore, school-goers who are still young can find interest in agriculture and even later pursue a course such as a degree in Agriculture when they experience cultivation through urban gardening.

2. It can boost food security

Urban gardening increases the land area utilized for agriculture, thereby increasing food security as the world population soar and arable land constantly facing depletion.

With urban gardening involving simple food crops such as vegetables and fruits, it can help reduce the dependence of vegetable and fruit produce from farms or imported from other countries, thus increasing available food for families and urban dwellers.

It also gives urban dwellers access to readily available foods that are rich in nutrients, supplementing other food products. As a result, it can serve as a solution to food insecurity for the future amidst the mounting concerns of how the billions of people on the planet will be fed.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

3. Urban gardening is of economic importance and creates jobs

Urban gardening can make a city’s economic base expand by creating economic activities through the production, packaging, and selling opportunities for food, vegetable, herbs, and fruit products.

As a result, jobs are created, the cost of food goes down, and people consume more quality foods. A healthy community also translates to vibrant and hardworking people who can work towards building the economy.

At the same time, considerably big urban gardens may require the services of gardening experts thus creating new jobs.

4. It is of social importance and creates environmental awareness

Urban gardening allows individuals to socially interact, contributing to society’s social and emotional wellbeing. It creates a sense of community participation for not only the community but also individuals and families, making community events more possible and easier to work on.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Also since it involves matters of the environment, it bolsters environmental awareness through aspects such as protecting soil fertility, ensuring air and water quality, protecting urban ecological biodiversity, rainwater harvesting, water recycling, organic waste recycling, and green-neighborhood spaces.

5. Urban gardening improves the overall human body wellbeing

The ability to grow and produce one’s own food or for the family has been identified to improve a person’s mental and emotional state as well as self-efficacy because gardening calms and refreshes the mind.

The process of digging, mowing, raking, and tending to plants is also said to provide maximum body movement and the stretching of almost all the body muscles.

According to experts, gardening exercises burn calories fast (digging and shovelling: up to 250 calories, weeding: 105 calories, mowing: 195 calories, raking: 100 calories). Researchers have equally associated gardening with overall reduced risks of obesity, diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

6. It ensures healthy living

Urban gardening guarantees the consumption of healthy foods that are predominantly organic, “home-grown,” and free of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. In other words, it gives you and your family control of the nutrients you get from your food.READ  Causes, Effects and Solutions to Combating Illegal Logging Globally

Aside from healthy foods, urban gardening has an element known as “horticulture therapy,” which is reported to enhance plant-human relationships that considerably reduces stress, blood pressure, anger and fear, and muscle tension by inducing relaxation.

7. It benefits the environment

Urban gardening reduces carbon footprints by reducing carbon emissions during the transportation of food, vegetables, and fruits from other regions or countries.

It also relieves the farms where agriculture was traditionally practiced, freeing the land for natural regeneration.

Besides, urban gardening does not contaminate as much soil as in the traditional agricultural setting, through fertilizers, hazardous chemicals, and other wastes.

What is more, it provides wholesome environmental regeneration by improving air and water quality, protecting urban ecological biodiversity, and promoting water and organic waste recycling.

growing-plant-home-urban-gardening
Source: Canva

Amazing Tips and Ideas for Sustainable Urban Gardening

1. Pick your plants correctly

Urban gardening can incorporate tens of plants. However, based on your setting, you have to choose the crop to plant correctly. Herbs and leafy greens are ideal as they are less complex as compared to fruits, peppers, and tomatoes.

2. You have to consider the sun

If your garden is in a bit of a dark place, most crops will not do well. Exposure to sunlight is vital for the survival of a plant and without such light, most crops won’t do well.

3. Consider your space

Urban gardening can incorporate the growth of trees. However, if your space is limited, you, therefore, should not plant trees. Limited space will not only squeeze the crop but also yourself and your access to space

4. Overwatering kills

Most urban gardens use containers and have limited space for draining excess water. Overwatering the crops will, therefore, kill them as there will not be enough space to take the excess water.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

To fix this, consider adding drainage holes to your container so that the soil does not become waterlogged and kills the plants.

5. Consider vertical gardening

Instead of filling the limited space with crops and lacking a spot to walk on, it is advisable to use the space upwards. As such, you can plant them in pots that can be hung, utilizing all the space going upwards.

6. Planting right

When planting, you have to put gravel at the bottom of the container, before adding some soil. You should also leave about an inch at the top of the container, for watering

7. Choosing your soil

The soil you use is vital to the quality of the crop harvested. Some go for soil sprayed with pesticides, but forget that it is loaded with chemicals. As such, the end result will not be purely organic.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

8. Watering hours

It is not possible to pinpoint the time it is best for watering the plants as this may vary due to rainfall patterns and soil water retention capacity.READ  Do Deer Eat Petunias? (And How to Keep Them Away)

However, it is ideal to water your garden in the evening and early mornings, so that the crops use up the water for a longer period before the afternoon heat.

9. Start small

Some might get overexcited by the idea of urban gardening, then start big and fail to harvest as expected, which may kill drive and interest. As such, it is advisable to start small and work towards adding more in the future.

10. Potting soil is better

Potting soil is lighter, is sterilized to kill weeds and disease, and drains better. It is, therefore, preferred to directing planting on the soil.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

11. Plastic pots are better

The choice of the container or pot is personal, but plastic containers are better than clay ones. Plants in plastic pots tend to dry out less quickly as plastic pots are not as porous as the clay ones. You need to add about 5 centimeters of mulch at the top to reduce water evaporation from the soil

12. More benefits of vertical gardening

In addition to utilizing the vertical space in a more efficient way, vertical growth of crops can serve more purposes. If a container has a wall pocket, for example, you can plant more crops with additional commitments or having to use more containers.

13. Use the surroundings as well

Using the surroundings works well with climbing plants, like tomatoes, which can climb up walls or up a pole. You can, therefore, hook the climbing plant on to that pole in your backyard and leave the rest to the plant.https://a861761a21ac1db938219f726462669d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

14. Shelf your plants

The alternative to hanging your plants and growing them vertically, is to make shelves, where you will place the pots. It uses less space and makes the most out of small balconies, allowing for an illusion that one’s balcony is spacious.

References:

Baker, M. (2016). What is urban agriculture, and why is it important?. Farm Progress. Retrieved from https://www.farmprogress.com/marketing/what-urban-agriculture-and-why-it-important

Community food security (CFS). Health Benefits of Urban Agriculture Public Health and Food Security. Retrieved from http://foodsecurity.org/uahealthfactsheet/

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Urban Farming

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

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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://815cf22a1c951ecd15e0b58b6c2c5193.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.ADVERTISING

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.ADVERTISEMENTCheck your vitamin levels with a micronutrient test

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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://815cf22a1c951ecd15e0b58b6c2c5193.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.

Healthline

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.

Healthline

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.

Last medically reviewed on June 17, 2020

FEEDBACK:

Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI — Written by Rebecca Joy Stanborough, MFA on June 17, 2020

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.Table of Contentsshow

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.

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.

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.

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?

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. 

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.

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!

Categories
Urban Farming

5 Benefits of Backyard Farming

Front yard and the backyard landscaping are done by people to make their home look beautiful and appealing to the visitors. People with particular sense of landscaping art are the ones who can achieve the target of making their houses beautiful. There are many ways by which a person can landscape his backyard and front yard. He can do it by his own experience or another way can be by calling and contacting the worthy company which can provide with the landscape services. Many of the architect designs can be made through the landscaping companies. There are many different benefits of having the back yard farmed or landscaped. Mentioned below are the five of those reasons.https://160c72f2b5e9fdeb2634cafa0cda4af9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

  1. You can easily manage your vegetables that you plan to grow in the backyard. You can go and check on your vegetables very easily and constantly. You don’t have to call upon farmers or other professionals frequently to check on the whether the vegetables are properly growing or not.
  2. Its your wish to grow whatever type of crop you want to. Crops can be grown according to the seasons. Unlike the large cultivating areas, you already have a small space so if any of the vegetables doesn’t grow with the required pace or has any environmental issues, it can be easily grown else where in the place or a new vegetable can be grown at its place.
  3. The most benefit which can be reaped from the backyard farming is that if you use the raised bed garden, it will be very easy for you to help your garden drain. It can help you with keeping the pests even away from your yard. The particular structure of the raised bed garden makes the vegetables grown very efficiently.
  4. You don’t have to get all the tools that are required in farming. Those expensive tools are only made for large areas. You can even go for traditional farming activities and practices which have proved to be the most successful.
  5. Last but not the least, Apartments and other places already have a managed and well maintained yard with proper landscaping done and it looks beautiful. You can also landscape your garden and make it worth attractive for all the visitors that can come by.

Author: Sean Kim loves home improvement ideas and making her garden the focus point in her home design. He always writes for the home improvement and gardening industries with a passion for organic and local gardening. Sean currently works with P&M Gonzalez Landscaping.

Categories
Urban Farming

Benefits of Backyard Farming

There’s nothing better than knowing where your food comes from! These days, you never know what sort of chemicals, pesticides and other junk make it to your meal, especially your fruits and vegetables. While you can spend extra money buying from local farmers markets or opting for the organic selection at your local grocery store, you can save money by growing your own fruits and vegetables in your backyard!

Backyard, or “urban,” farming is really taking off with many families who choose to grow their own food in the comforts of their yard. Not only does it allow them to provide fresh ingredients for their favorite meals, but it also allows them to learn how to garden as a family. Those with children can make it a family affair, which practically teaches children hard work and how to appreciate gardening and growing foods. It’s truly an empowering way to reconnect with nature and nourish healthy habits. Not only is it fun, it’s also a fascinating process that will make your family proud to see the results! From planting to care and finally harvesting, the entire process is a beautiful and humbling experience.

And it doesn’t matter if you have a small backyard or a huge one; all that matters is your setup! People in apartments are even growing their own food on their balconies, further proving that you can literally do it anywhere. You can start off small with a raised planter box filled with simple items like lettuce or kale, or go big and start growing all your favorite fruits and vegetables!

Interesting Things in this Post

What are Some Benefits of Backyard Farming?

Health Benefits of Growing your own Vegetables

Leisure Holidays And People Concept Happy Family Having Festive Dinner Or Summer Garden Party Happy Family Having Dinner Or Summer Garden Party

The biggest one is foods with less or no chemicals. When you buy fruits and vegetables at grocery stores, you don’t know what’s been done to them. Most likely they were grown using pesticides or other chemicals, but the ones in your garden will be free of harmful things, making them much healthier for your entire family.

Also, fruits and vegetables that are grown in your garden are usually higher in nutrients than those that have traveled thousands of miles to get to your grocery store. They’ll also benefit your family’s health because they’ll be rich in nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, antioxidants and more.

For kids who are resisted in eating vegetables or fruits, planting their own could stimulate their interest in trying. In fact, there is a success story where a lady from Denver, Colorado successfully heal her eating disorder by growing foods in the garden. 1)

How does Planting a Garden Help the Environment?

And since they’re organic, you’ll be saving yourself lots of money! Buying organic or fresh from local farmers markets can get pricey, so if you grow your own in your backyard, you will make less purchase from these places. Also, since less is consumed from commercial stores, there’s less pollution produced transporting from farms to retailers.

Plus, your backyard will look beautiful with all the different colors of the fruits and vegetables you’ve planted! Neighbors, friends, and family will come over and relish at your beautiful garden, and if you have extras, you can also share the wealth and give some of your bounties to them. If you’re growing tall fruit trees, your backyard will benefit from the shade.

Once you start your backyard farm, you’ll have a new appreciation for nature and hard work. Seeing something grow from a seed to something you can eat is a fantastic experience. And who knows, now that you’re growing your own vegetables and fruits, you’ll want to up the ante in the kitchen! Being able to come into your kitchen from your yard with loads of fresh items will inspire your culinary skills and help make you a better cook. Plus, the meals will taste even better thanks to all the fresh ingredients that came directly from your own backyard. You might even realize you love gardening and venture out to plants and flowers, helping your garden look even more beautiful than ever before!

What do You Learn from Gardening?

Two Little Girls With Magnifying Glasses

Children love helping out in your backyard farm. You can take the opportunity to show them how hard work pays off and mold their minds by teaching them how plants grow. A lot of scientific concepts happen when you plant and tend to a garden. For example, they could have a more profound understanding of how do plants absorb water? Why is sunshine essential to the plants? What are the benefits of having worms in the soil?

By including your kids, you’re actually giving them hands-on lessons on the cycle of plants, composition, insects and so much more!

Plus, if you also make your compost, you’ll be able to educate them on recycling. >> Here’s a post on how to make compost in a backyard

Furthermore, you can teach basic math and words to younger children who are lending a hand, too, making it a great project for young and older children. You’ll be stimulating their brain as you teach them about eating healthy since they’ll be more willing to try the foods they helped grow.

Not only is backyard farming stimulating for your child’s mind, but it will also get them active. These days, too many kids are stuck on their iPad inside. Gardening will get them out in the yard working for their food. They’ll get in some physical activity as they pull out weeds and more, plus get more vitamin D while being out in the sun for a few hours.

Your kids will love to get their hands and feet dirty, as they help mom and dad tend to the garden to grow what’s later going into their dinner. Plus, getting dirty while gardening is known to strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health since they’ll be exposed to healthy germs.

Overall, you’ll be showing your kids how to work with their hands and finish through with projects as they start out helping you seed the garden, tend it and finally harvest it. They’ll learn that hard work pays off, which will benefit them in the future.

But most importantly, tending to a backyard farm will bring your family closer together. It’ll give parents a chance to reconnect with their kids no matter what age they are. Think of it as a time to get in some fresh air and bond as a family, with no technology or outside distractions. You’ll soon see how much your kids will look forward to their time in the garden with you! It’ll leave them with amazing memories when they are older and will be inspired to do the same with their kids one day.

Easy Things to Grow in a Garden

The possibilities of what you can grow in your backyard are endless. It all depends on your personal preferences as what you’d like to feature in your garden. If you’re a novice, you’ll most likely want to start out with some easy fruits or vegetables and can then progress to more challenging ones once you’ve gained more experience. Other factors that might influence your decision as to what to grow could be the size of your garden and where you live since climate and weather can also play a significant factor on if something will grow or not. But typically, fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and Goji berry are relatively easy to test out your green thumb.

Fresh Berries As Background

Vegetables that are easy to grow include salad leaves like kales and lettuce, radishes, potatoes, peas, onions, and tomatoes. But why grow something that’s easy if you’re not going to eat it, so make sure that what you plant matches your food preferences.

Tools for Backyard Gardening

Once you figure out what sort of fruits and vegetables you’ll grow in your backyard, you’ll need the necessary tools to make it all happen. If you have limited space to start a backyard farm, you can use containers, but if you have ample space, raised beds would work well. Or if you have the room, you can simply section off a side of your backyard and plant the seeds straight into the yard’s dirt (however, you may need to add some soil to since it is an active ecosystem of fungi, bacteria, and micro-organisms that are perfect for fruits and vegetables.

Tools you need for your first garden include a rake, shovel, some irrigation in the form of a sprinkler or hose, and a hoe or hand wedding tool. You might also want to get gloves for you and the family to keep your hands clean (but kids will love getting them dirty). Gardening boots and a hat might also be great additions so that you can keep the sun out of your face and your other stylish shoes clean!

Finally, you’ll need all the different seeds of each of the fruits and vegetables you plan on growing, which can be bought at online or at home and garden stores. From there, a simple Internet search can help give you more information on planting and tending to certain types of fruits and vegetables so that your backyard farm is bountiful with nutritious and fresh ingredients for you and your family.

So now that you’re inspired, it’s time to go out and begin your family’s journey with backyard farming!

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Categories
Urban Farming

The Advantages of Growing Backyard Produce

The best reason to grow your own vegetables is because you can control what goes onto and into your food; plus produce doesn’t get any fresher then traveling 24 feet from the garden to the kitchen.

Growing backyard produce has its advantages over commercial growers.   Photo by woodleywonderworks under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

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Home gardeners around the country are proving that they can grow an amazing amount of healthy and delicious vegetable crops in their own backyards. Thus, only hitting the produce section of the grocery store in order to supplement their fresh food.

The best reason to grow your own vegetables is because you can control what goes onto – and into –your food; plus produce doesn’t get any fresher then traveling 24 feet from the garden to the kitchen. While it may seem like commercial farmers have all the right stuff (including lots of land); there are some distinct advantages to growing produce in your backyard verses a full blown farm with vast acreage.

Advantage #1 – The first benefit is that a backyard vegetable garden is an endeavor that’s manageable by nearly everyone. And it doesn’t take a crew of workers to plant, maintain, or bring in a crop in a typical backyard situation.

Advantage #2 – The second incredibly cool thing about small land farming is that depending on where and how you intend to garden, if a crop isn’t working in one area, it is possible to simply move that crop to a different location – all in the same season. This is a simple situation if you’re container gardening. If your carrots are in big plastic pots and you find they are not getting a good enough sun-soaking, just drag the planted container to another location.


Advantage #3
 – If you are using raised beds, depending on your growing zone; it’s very possible to squeeze another harvest out in the same season. Raised beds stay warmer than beds dug into the ground. This isn’t something large farm operations can often enjoy.

Advantage #4 – Raised beds are not only more reasonable to construct in a backyard, but can be also created in any fashion your little heart desires. They can be built on a long stretch of side yard, or several shorter rows out back. They can be L – shaped or a kidney-shaped island in the middle of the lawn. You can have container boxes on your back porch by the kitchen door, which perfect for an herb garden.


Advantage #5
 – Gardening tools are inexpensive and minimal (by far) compared to traditional farming. There’s not only less of it to purchase, but the price can range down to nearly nonexistent if you receive some as gifts, hit garage sales, Freecycle.com, or Craig’s List ads. Anything with a motor attached is just a luxury.

Advantage #6 – Apartment and condominium dwellers take heart; you can grow your fair share of crops on your decks, balconies and window boxes. There’s even upside down tomato plant grower so small spaces can take advantage of every square inch; even upside down hanging from the eaves.

Advantage #7 – The last advantage to growing your own backyard produce is that it’s less inclined to be attacked by garden pests in great numbers. Home gardeners grow distinctly smaller quantities of vegetables so pests have a harder time discovering home crops. It’s also easy to tuck companion plants into garden beds to both attract beneficial insects and repel undesirable ones. If pests do insist on hanging around, they’re easier to remove in a backyard garden.

Categories
Urban Farming

6 Exclusive Importance of Backyard Gardens

Backyard gardens are relatively small areas around homes we use to grow food for ourselves and the family. The practice has been going on for ages but this practice is declining in our region for obvious reasons. We often presume food can always be obtained from the open market, so why waste time grow our own in a garden? or “… don’t have the time to work on a garden”, and a number of other reasons.

However, we strongly recommend backyard gardens, for reasons that have quite been overlooked and more so for the reason of surviving the current climate change leading to food shortages.

Picture of David Oscar's backyard garden posted on LinkedIn.
Picture of David Oscar’s backyard garden posted on LinkedIn.

Backyard gardening is a must-do. Consider these.

1.  Source of fresh and organic food.

Who wouldn’t chose fresh and organic food?. Home gardens are very manageable and usually, in cases of insects and disease control, organic means could easily be applied. It is very important when you are very sure and have total control over the quality of food produced. You cannot be so sure of what is out there. Take advantage of that.


2. Gardening is a very good physical and mental exercise.

The experts say, gardening activities like soil preparation, planting, removal of weeds, watering, etc. engage most of your body muscles and are very good exercises. Gardening engages your mind too. They say, gardening 45 minutes early mornings each day before any other work, prepares you physically and mentally like 30 minutes of aerobics.

3. Supplements family budgets.

In our region, many families’ (usually large) expenditure on food is greatly reduced. These are families that actively grow home gardens and they are able to cut down expenditure on food to about 40%. Adding to this, they are sure of the quality of the produce. This has been a major incentive for many to plant home gardens in many households. Some families only need to buy cooking oil and spices and the rest comes from their gardens.


4. Year-round food availability from gardens.

Since gardens are relatively small in land size, irrigation is easier and so continuous food supply through the seasons. Try it.

5. Gardening makes good use of space and protects the soil.

Putting it this way; we use the soil space around the house to plant a garden that gives all the benefits stated above and the one below. Plus, when we cover the soil with beneficial cover crops, erosion is reduced and regular bush growth around the house is minimised. Hope we have made that point clearer.


6. Entertainment, fulfilment and creativity.

The one having the experience can well explain this point. It is a good feeling. Try it. Gardening is a source of entertainment and really brings out lots of creativity in you. The art of planting various crops in the soil, nurturing them and watching them grow by the day and finally so see them blossom into fruits, is such a good feeling. You would be proud to say at the dining table, “this food is from my garden”. So fulfilled.

We would advise you to revive the hobby of gardening and establish your own backyard gardens.