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Urban Farming

PLANTING POWER: EIGHT GREAT BENEFITS OF BACKYARD GARDENING

Planting Power: Eight Great Benefits of Backyard Gardening

PINETREE GARDEN SEEDS WANTS YOU TO START GARDENING!

As one of the few seed sellers to offer non-GMO hybrid, organic and heirloom seeds in smaller quantities at affordable prices—often just a couple of dollars each—Pinetree Garden Seeds is one of the biggest boosters of backyard gardening. So many of our customers have changed their lives for the better by taking up gardening. We hope the list below inspires you to give gardening a go.

1. Exercise

Can green mean lean? Yes! The exercise benefits of gardening have been the subject of significant clinical studies. Research has shown that specific gardening tasks—like digging, raking, mulching, watering, and weeding—can raise your heart rate high enough to be considered moderate to high-intensity physical exercise. 

Physicians currently recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise each week for a healthy lifestyle—2.5 hours. While the time anyone spends in their garden depends on a wide variety of factors, even container gardeners will find that tending their plantings will have a positive effect on their personal fitness goals. (Gardeners working larger or more ambitious plots will easily exceed them.) And remember, gardening works more than your heart and lungs! Bending and kneeling will help you stretch and stay limber. Digging and lifting will strengthen arms and legs. Manipulating tools and cultivating plants strengthens your hands and improves fine motor skills. Gardening is a high variety, varying intensity workout that always feels worth it.

And if you face physical challenges or constraints, don’t let the known exercise benefits of gardening put you off planting! There are many wonderful tools and techniques that can make gardening safe and fun for all fitness and mobility levels. From raised planters that make it possible to garden while standing or sitting in a chair to ergonomic garden tools, there’s a way to get the work done without the workout.

2. Sunshine & Fresh Air

We’ve all been told since childhood that fresh air is good for us. Major research universities have put this folk wisdom to the test and discovered that, in fact, it’s true! Spending time outdoors in the sunlight prompts our skin to produce Vitamin D, an essential vitamin which helps prevent osteoporosis, cancer, and depression. Sunshine also speeds healing. And being outdoors improves our overall sense of physical wellbeing (creating a stronger sense of vitality) as well as mental wellbeing (lifting our mood). In fact, scientists at the University of Rochester summed up their study’s findings by saying “spending time outdoors makes us feel more alive.”

While some sunlight is necessary to produce Vitamin D, our bodies produce our daily allowance within a few minutes. Hours of sun helps plants grow but gardeners need to be careful of excessive sun exposure. Protect your skin from cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays with generous applications of sunscreen, covering as much skin as possible in light and breathable fabrics, and wearing a sunhat. As gardeners, we are often leaning over our tender plants, so don’t forget the back of your neck!

3. Mental Health

Exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are just the start of gardening’s known positive effects on mental health. It turns out that our brains are particularly soothed and stimulated by spending time in nature. In Japan, the phrase “shinrin-yoku” can be translated as “green-bathing,” a lovely way of describing the experience of spending time in a garden. Research has shown that being surrounded by nature lowers anxiety and depression, helps to manage stress, and more.

Gardening is good for improving mental health

It also turns out that gardening can impart important lessons that help us better navigate our lives. Gardeners learn quickly that we can’t control the weather, we often lose the battle against hungry pests and foraging animals, and sometimes you pull a seedling instead of a weed. Embracing imperfection and adopting “a growth mindset” around our own mistakes and those of others helps us to better tackle challenges at home and at work.

4. Save Money

Pinetree Garden Seeds prides ourselves on the value we pack into each seed packet. By selling organic, heirloom, and non-GMO seeds in smaller quantities, we make it possible to plant an entire garden for less than $50. And, of course, the joys of growing something can found by planting just one $2 packet of seeds. Whether you grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill, plant flowers in planters on your apartment deck, or decide to homestead and feed your family on a couple of acres, the return on your investment will far exceed the cost.

Take a quick look at your most recent grocery receipt or spending at the U-Pick Farm or Saturday Farmers Market. Good, fresh produce can cost quite a lot, especially if you buy local or organic fruits and vegetables. And grocery store produce is never so fresh or perfectly ripe as something gathered from your garden that day, so it is much easier to enjoy eating and avoid wasting anything. Planting a garden is a great way to get the highest quality, organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables at the lowest possible price. 

5. Good Eating

We all want to eat healthier—and we all want to enjoy what we are eating. Think back to the last time you picked strawberries or tomatoes or snapped a sugar snap pea off the vine. If you are used to eating strawberries and tomatoes that have been picked green and ripened on their way to a market, fresh-picked flavors and textures can change the way you (or your picky little ones) feel about eating their fruits and veggies. Fresh-picked flavor also signals a higher, richer nutritional content. The vitamins and minerals in produce begin to break down the longer these foods have been on the shelf. Every bite you take from the garden gives you and your family the best possible nutrition. When the foods that are good for you taste good, getting a recommended daily allowance is a treat. And when you have grown an ingredient yourself you are much less likely to want to waste it, so gardening can encourage families to try new foods and recipes and enjoy more home-cooked meals.

6. Build Community

Something about gardening gets you out into the world connecting with other growers. Gardeners find themselves chatting with neighbors walking by or stopping by their homes with a bouquet of cut flowers or extra summer squash to share. They meet new friends when they sign up for—or start!—their local community garden. Gardeners swap tips at the hardware store or nursery and log on to chat groups or message boards to share challenges or cuttings. (They leave the best comments and tips on our blog!) Gardeners also donate part of their harvest to churches, food banks, and shelters. Gardeners invite friends and family over for dinners made up of their own homegrown ingredients. And for families, gardens are the ultimate group project. From digging in the dirt to building raised beds to trying out new recipes, there are opportunities for children to make meaningful contributions at every age or skill level. And meanwhile, everyone is making lifelong memories together.

Gardening with family


7. Save The Earth

Plants absorb C02 in the air that contributes to global warming and converts it to lifegiving, planet-protecting oxygen, so adding plants to the planet is always an environmental plus. But that’s not the only way gardens help green the earth. Gardens decrease pollution by reducing the amount of food that needs to be transported long distances by truck or plane. Gardeners compost organic waste, keeping it out of landfills. When gardeners practice organic growing methods they help keep wastewater and groundwater chemical-free. And by avoiding invasive species and planting non-GMO, heirloom seeds, gardeners help to preserve the rich biodiversity of our planet.

8. Have So Much Fun

Yes, it can be a lot of work. But you will savor it—not just your harvest but all the little moments that get you there. The smell of ripe berries or sun-warmed tomato vines or basil leaves torn from the stem. The hum of bees working all around you. Unwrapping corn like a present or watching pumpkins slowly glow brighter as the nights grow longer. Pinetree Gardening Seeds has been in business for 40 years now and yet burying a seed and seeing it sprout feels like a magic trick every single time we do it. And don’t you want to try it?

Here’s the thing—this is a long list of the benefits of gardening, but there are more benefits to gardening out there. We’re hoping our national community of gardeners will share their favorite aspects of gardening! How has gardening improved your life? What would you tell someone thinking of planting their first garden? Let us know in the comments!

11 RESPONSES

Susan Farino
SUSAN FARINO

October 18, 2019

Gardening with my Grandsons has given them a love for fresh vegetables!

Denise Herman
DENISE HERMAN

October 18, 2019

Gardening season is my most favorite time of the year! Just working in the soil prior to planting (raking and tilling up the garden, plus the local farmers natural fertilizer). Watching it grow then picking all the wonderful fruits and vegetables. And best of all….is enjoying our hard work all year long.
I not only enjoy eating fresh vegetables and making delicious meals, but like to make it last for more than just the summer months. I can some veggies. Then make homemade pickles, relishes and jellies. Fresh salsa with all my own veggies (tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, onions, mild chilies, and cilantro) and just add some lime juice and salt. I have also made my own cyanne pepper sauce that I also add a little to the salsa.
Another was to save our veggies is to vacuum pack them.. I’ll blanch them, dry off then vacuum pack, label and store in the freezer. I enjoy my garden all year long and love to share with friends! You can even make up some baskets with your creations, and gift them for presents. Everyone always enjoys getting something they can actually enjoy!

Wayne McMillen
WAYNE MCMILLEN

October 09, 2019

I have had a vegetable garden for 55 years.our climate is such that I can grow year round. That way we always have fresh produce on the table. I also can, freeze, pickle and cellar store so we have a variety to serve. I also have 20 or so fruit trees. Working in the garden provides exercise and time to think things over. The time spent gardening, no matter the chore is heavenly!

terrence ward
TERRENCE WARD

October 09, 2019

Yes to all the benefits you listed. I would also add saving pollinators as an additional benefit. I use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides in my garden; PineTree provides me the seeds, nature provides the rest…the result is beautiful organic produce and flowers.

Bill Finn
BILL FINN

October 04, 2019

Very good

Richard Mammel
RICHARD MAMMEL

October 04, 2019

This is a wonderful page. It very graciously and gracefully renders so many of the benefits of gardening, which has certainly lengthened my life and improved the quality of my life and eating as well, beyond extensive native plant gardens. Given the environmental concerns that are only enlarging, gardening takes on life-saving enterprises as well as serving the environment in the best of ways.

David Lee
DAVID LEE

October 04, 2019

My neighbors enjoy the benefits of my gardening.

Vicky Harding
VICKY HARDING

October 04, 2019

I visit my garden twice a day and it provides a meditative space for me, it is a peaceful experience. 🙂

Vernice Hazlett
VERNICE HAZLETT

October 04, 2019

I love the satisfaction of growing my own produce.

Vernice Hazlett
VERNICE HAZLETT

October 09, 2019

I love the satisfaction of growing my own produce.

Vernice Hazlett
VERNICE HAZLETT

December 04, 2019

I love the satisfaction of growing my own produce.

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Urban Farming

Backyard gardening: grow your own food, improve your health

Summer-squash-growing-in-Harvard-Community-Garden

June 29, 2012

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. 

When it comes to gardening, I am all thumbs, and not the green kind. But a new book from First Lady Michelle Obama is inspiring me to try my hand (thumbs and all) at backyard vegetable gardening. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America details the challenges and joys the First Lady has experienced with her now-famous White House garden. It also looks at community gardens all across America, and how they can improve health.

The book contains helpful hints for starting your own vegetable garden, as well as a school or community garden. Along with the how-to information about seed spacing, irrigation, soil types, and the right time to plant various vegetables, American Grown also discusses Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. How does that fit into a book on gardening? In addition to getting more physical activity, so the thinking goes, eating more food harvested from the ground and less from packages can help kids — and adults — become healthy or stay that way.

“Backyard gardening can inspire you to take an interest in the origins of your food and make better choices about what you put on your plate,” says Dr. Helen Delichatsios, an internist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “When you grow your own food, you savor it more because of the effort it took to get to the table.”View Coronavirus COVID-19 Resource Center

Growing your own food has many health benefits:

  • It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • You decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides come in contact with your food.
  • It lets you control when to harvest your food. Vegetables that ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early.

Growing your own food isn’t rocket science. “Growing food is very simple,” says Kathleen Frith, managing director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) at Harvard Medical School. “It takes a little time, but things like tomatoes, lettuce, peppers — basic kitchen crops — are very forgiving. Really, anyone can learn to grow food pretty easily.”

Frith proved that when she spearheaded the Harvard Community Garden, a large collaborative project in Harvard Square. Students tend the garden and grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. The garden’s bounty is donated to food shelters or featured on the menu at the Harvard Faculty Club. You can see photos of the garden here.

If you’re interested in growing food in your backyard, Frith offers these tips:

  • Start small and plant things you’d really like to eat.
  • Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of good daytime light and access to water.
  • Use contaminant-free soil.
  • Consider using a raised garden bed, which allows you to control the soil and nutrient blend.
  • Talk to farmers or other backyard gardeners in your area to get a sense of what grows well in your region and when.

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 American Community Gardening Association.

“You will be amazed by how much fun gardening can be, and the pride you take in sharing healthy food nurtured by your own efforts,” says Acacia Matheson, the CHGE’s assistant director of communications. “We hope that people will develop more interest in learning about their food choices, and how to prepare fresh, healthy food at home.”

Be patient as you cultivate your relationship with your garden and the Earth. Before long, you’ll reap the benefits. You may even see a little tinge of green on those thumbs.

Categories
Urban Farming

10 reasons to start backyard gardens in homes and schools

  1. Gardening is a way to teach children about how the farming industry works. It also teaches them the importance of good and nutritious food. It is vital that children learn about gardening because they might be interested to learn this and do it at home for themselves. It will teach people the importance of biodiversity and the importance of a broad variety in the garden. It is a good way for the family to spend more time together and learn about gardening.
  2. It is a good way for low income families to save money on fruits and vegetables. For families to grow their own food, it would also mean that people would consume more of a variety of food.
  3. For schools it is a great way to implement other ways of teaching for teachers and other ways of learning for students. Including environmental education in the garden will also teach about global warming, greenhouse gasses and what we can do ourselves to become aware consumers.
  4. By growing your own food, you know what goes into the soil and the water. Hopefully when growing your own food you have taken a stand against chemically produced pesticides, insecticides and fertilizers. Creating awareness to go organic in your garden may also introduce you to go more fair trade, local and low carbon emission foods. This is also good for the environment.
  5. Growing your own vegetables and fruits have a positive environmental impact as well as it is a great way to save the bees. Bees are vital for the world’s food production because they pollinate most of the crops. However, in the last decades bees have been disappearing everywhere due to various factors such as air pollution, pesticides and fertilizers. Backyard gardens are a great initiative to plant vegetables and flowers to attract bees and other pollinators.
  6. Having a garden will also improve the community. Having people involved in local community gardens will make people come together for a common purpose. In countries like Germany and the Netherlands community gardens are rapidly growing. It is a place where people can come together, learn and teach each other new knowledge and information.
  7. It is a great way to lessen your groceries. It will also lower your fossil fuel emissions and your carbon foot print. By having a backyard garden you will save about 2 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere for each pound of produce that you grow. Food is being shipped across the planet. We get our bananas from Brazil, coffee from Colombia and our electronics are being assembled in Taiwan or China. At least by having your own garden you do not need to buy your broccoli from Italy.
  8. It gives us a freedom to participate in the market. We are not dependent on buying food that we can grow ourselves and if able to produce enough we can even sell it or give away.
  9. Hunger can be avoided if more people did small scale farming and were less dependent on huge farms. People can work for themselves instead of working long hours for minimum wages and buying the food back as consumers. People can work for themselves and create their own food from their own land.
  10. Learning about sustainability and being self-reliant is very important. It teaches you how beautiful nature is. You start from a small seed and it turns into the food on your dinner table. You can be your own teacher, because that is a very good way to learn. If you practice, you will see what works and what does not work in your backyard garden. Sustainability gives you a grasp on over-consumption, climate change and the environment.

For more information on backyard gardens and all of their benefits, please visit this website: www.greenandhealthyhomes.org

By Lily

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Urban Farming

Benefits Of A Backyard Suburban Garden

In this world of increasing living costs, a backyard suburban garden can provide a family with fresh, delicious, and healthy vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Many fruits and vegetables are perennials and with little care or maintenance can bring your family years of eating pleasure. Gardening can give you the satisfaction of having grown your own produce for a fraction of the cost of buying it in the grocery store. In addition, gardening is not difficult nor does it have to take a lot of time and effort. Let’s take a look at how to create a backyard suburban garden. Suburban Garden Planning There are as many ways to garden as there are people who work the soil. First, think about how much time you have and how much equipment you will need. I prefer to use the raised bed-no till method of gardening. My equipment list includes a shovel, spade, and a good pair of gloves. The entire garden should be planned in detail before anything is planted. There are thousands of sites on the internet that will give you free plans for your gardens; these plans include flower, herb, water, or vegetable gardening. Planning out your garden will save you hours of frustration later, when with poor planning the squash takes over the lawn or the mint threatens to spread to the next county. Decide in advance what vegetables or flowers you would like to grow. Do you want to buy plants or grow them from seeds? Start small as you can always expand the garden next year. What vegetables do you like? No point in growing zucchini if you can’t stand the stuff. How to Create a Backyard Suburban Garden Once your suburban garden planning is complete, it’s time to get your garden ready for planting. Amend and enrich your soil by adding leaves or composted manure. If you are planting in compacted clay soil, add a good bit of sand to lighten the clay. Place your garden spot where it will receive at least five hours of sunlight a day. If you want a low maintenance gardening technique, raised beds will fill the bill. Be sure to position your garden far enough away from trees so they don’t compete with the crops for water. If you have only a small site available for a garden, we suggest you grow crops that will yield the heaviest crop over the longest period of time. Vegetables suitable for a small suburban garden include: Tomatoes Peppers Bush cucumbers Summer squash Bush lima Potatoes Bush beans Pole beans Garlic Various herbs Onions Grow as many vegetables vertically as possible: pole beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and watermelon can be grown on fences. Many vegetables can be grown in containers, thus saving space in the garden area. Tomatoes and peppers love containers if given enough water and fertilizer. For those of us who have small yards, two books can be invaluable in your gardening efforts. Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening and Patricia Lanza’s Lasagna Gardening will be invaluable resources. One will tell you how to plant intensively and the other will guide you to enriching your soil with as little effort as possible. Another information bonanza is the back of the seed packet. This index of information will include growing regions, when to plant, how deeply to plant, and suggestions as to where to plant and how to harvest. There is also a picture of what the vegetable looks like once it is mature. Additionally, the seed packet will tell you the type of soil in which this plant will thrive. Grow the vegetables, fruits, and herbs you love. Most of all, enjoy your time with nature. Put a bench near your garden and take time to watch your backyard suburban garden grow.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Benefits Of A Backyard Suburban Garden https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/urban/benefits-of-a-backyard-suburban-garden.htm

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Urban Farming

The Surprising, Life-Changing Benefits of Gardening

You may enjoy the time you spend with your plants because it helps you relieve stress, but that is only one of the many benefits of gardening. Whether you are growing a large vegetable garden or small ornamental (and great smelling) flower garden, the physical and mental benefits of gardening are plenty. Butterfly gardens and rock gardens, English landscape gardens and windowsill herb gardens have all been delivering mind and body benefits to folks with green thumbs for literally thousands of years.

Woman working in the garden

As a matter of fact, the earliest humans engaged in gardening activities. They didn’t build gardens for pleasure, but rather for food. This practice is called forest gardening, which is the most ancient form of gardening. When your cave-dwelling ancestors came across plants, trees and vines that bore fruit and other edible parts, they would cultivate them.

They eventually learned to harvest the seeds of these food-producing plants and trees so they could plant them wherever they wanted. That ancient practice demonstrates a benefit of gardening some people still enjoy today … you can grow food right in your backyard.

To help you get the most out of your garden I have put together this report on gardening benefits for seniors and toddlers, middle-agers and 30-somethings, and everyone that loves nature (no matter how old you are). You will discover that you help the environment when you garden regularly, and that there are social, mental, physical and even financial rewards.

Let’s get started exploring the benefits of home gardening for your emotional health.

Table of Contents

Benefits Of Gardening

Gardening boosts your mood

Old couple having fun. Happy people with garden hose.

study conducted in the Netherlands confirmed one of the many benefits of gardening you are probably very familiar with … it makes you feel good. Researchers found that fooling around in your garden can quickly relieve stress. Volunteers were asked to take on a difficult task. Upon completion, half were told to go outside and garden for a half-hour, while the other half of the participants went inside and read.

While reading is known as a great stress-reliever, the gardeners reported substantially better moods than their book-bound counterparts. This really wasn’t surprising, as the volunteers who were ordered to garden showed significantly lower levels of cortisol in their bodies.

Cortisol has received the well-earned nickname of “the stress hormone”, because as cortisol levels rise, so do depression, stress and anxiety. As cortisol levels decrease, levels of endorphins and other “feel-good” chemicals and hormones rise. This emotional advantage of gardening is why many green-thumb folks spend time gardening before and after their stressful jobs.

There are plenty of other studies that show spending just 15 minutes with mother nature can have the same effects .

You are a product of nature. All people are. So it only makes sense that your mind and emotions are happier when you spend some time out in nature every day. Even if you aren’t actively gardening and you just spend time outdoors sitting in a comfortable chair and admiring your rock garden, flower garden or herb garden, you get the same depression-defeating, stress-relieving, mood-boosting results (and you get those good feelings quickly).

Are there any environmental benefits of gardening?

My husband and I both garden because we love it. We are well aware that we are improving our lives in lots of ways, but we mainly do it because it makes us feel good and we like growing things. We both hate the fact that the ecological and environmental health of our world is often ignored and sometimes intentionally put at risk by corporate farms simply to make a quick buck.

Our love affair with gardening means I am quick to want to share this super gratifying hobby with others. It is a wonderful added benefit that your garden (however humble or grandiose it may be) is helping the environment.

When you grow food in your backyard or somewhere nearby your home, you reduce food transportation costs. This also minimizes water runoff and the negative impacts large food manufacturing companies have on the environment. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and this means less harmful CO2 for you and your loved ones to breathe.

While the plants in your garden are sucking in as much carbon dioxide as they can, they are simultaneously breathing out oxygen! This means your backyard garden is making you healthier by providing more of the life-giving oxygen required by every cell in your body.

Any time you grow a garden which produces food, you reduce the overall level of pollution in the world. Instead of driving your pollution-producing vehicle to the store to buy groceries, you just walk into your backyard. This limits the amount of food you have to get from global food manufacturers that could care less about adopting sustainable, clean gardening and farming practices.

You also help the planet you live on when you garden because you are using little or no pesticides and chemicals to grow your food. This single benefit of gardening makes Mother Earth happier and healthier, and also improves your mental and physical health.

Speaking of the physical health benefits of gardening …

In case you haven’t noticed, I love gardening. I built this website because my love of nature is such that I want to share it with the world. I have seen gardening positively change my life in so many ways, and I know you can enjoy the same positive rewards that can truly help so many areas of your life.

Whether you are someone who thinks about your physical well-being regularly or not, I am betting you would rather be living and breathing than the alternative! Fortunately, the versatile nature of gardening means there are so many physical health benefits you receive.

We talked earlier about how gardening helps regulate your hormones so that you feel more positive than negative emotions. It does the same thing chemically with the many processes which determine your physical health. When you expose your skin to the sun for just 15 minutes, your body turns that exposure into an entire day’s supply of vitamin D. Vitamin D is necessary for you to properly absorb calcium so you grow and maintain healthy bones.

The physical benefits of gardening include more muscle growth and stronger muscles, reduced blood pressure levels if you have high blood pressure, a healthier heart rate and better skin and hair.

If you are sweating as you are gardening, that’s a good thing. Sweating is one way your body gets rid of toxins, poisons, dead skin and other waste material. Combined with the vitamin D you create while you are out in the sun gardening, this means you have healthier, stronger skin. Of course, you want to wear a hat and make sure you use some type of protective sunscreen so you don’t overexpose yourself.

Studies show that you only need to engage in 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of moderately intense physical activity each week to lower your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. This could be the time you spend in your garden.

As human beings age, they slowly lose dexterity and strength in their hands. Without thinking about the process, you use your hands hundreds of times a day. Another of the physical health benefits of gardening is improved dexterity and strength in your hands. 

Remarkably, when you dig in the dirt and get some physical contact between dirt and your fingers, this helps boost your immune system.

Your immune system is a complicated collection of processes and body parts which works hard to keep you healthy. There is a bacteria in soil named mycobacterium vaccae. It exists not only in garden dirt but also in vegetables, and can be inhaled or ingested. Dig in the dirt frequently and your immune system becomes stronger because of this “good” bacteria.

It has been known to help treat symptoms of psoriasis, asthma and allergies, it helps alleviate depression, reduces stress and anxiety, and since it improves your overall immunity. This aspect of gardening boosts your ability to fight all illness and sickness, and helps you recover quickly if you ever suffer an injury or disease.

Gardening benefits for mental health

Your emotions are largely dictated by hormones. Your brain and nervous system have a lot to do with what hormones are produced. This is why when you are mentally peaceful and happy, you enjoy feelings of calm, serenity and joy. When you are in a bad place mentally, you naturally experience and display negative and unhappy emotions.

This is why one of the most important mental health benefits of gardening is stress-relief. The chemicals we talked about earlier that promote positive emotions are produced when you spend time gardening and out in nature. Isn’t it wonderful that all you have to do is grab your garden tools and head to the backyard to give yourself the wonderful gift of stress-relief and peacefulness?

While being able to de-stress by just sticking your spade in the dirt is amazing, there are some other rewards of gardening that boost your brain function.

The American Association of Retired People (AARP) has discovered that you enjoy a decreased risk of developing dementia and other significant mental health problems when you garden regularly. This is certainly a benefit of gardening for older people, and the research AARP shares shows that gardening also lowers the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia when it is practiced by younger people as well.

Nearly 3,000 people over the age of 60 had their health and hobbies tracked for 16 years. The research showed that those who gardened were 36% less likely to develop dementia. Data collected from tons of research papers reveals that people who began gardening as younger adults and continued to enjoy the hobby when they were senior citizens were also less likely to develop mental disorders like dementia.

Spending time in your garden helps your mental state of being by connecting you with the earth. You feel like you

  • are a part of nature
  • have a purpose
  • a sense of accomplishment when you see the results of your hard work
  • the sense of responsibility you feel to keep your plants healthy makes you feel good about yourself.

This mental health gardening therapy benefits the young and old, men and women, and works whether you have a small windowsill garden or an acre of vegetables in your backyard.

Gardening benefits for seniors and the elderly

Senior woman gardening

Many of the rewards of gardening enjoyed by those over 50 or 60 years of age are quite substantial. Some of them are experienced by gardeners of all ages, such as an emotional boost.

In many ways, gardening is the perfect mind and body therapy for women and men pastmiddle-age. It is a simple fact that we sometimes can’t do what we used to do once we have lived on this earth for 5 or 6 or 7 decades. We don’t have the physical strength and muscle we did when we were younger. Sometimes we feel as if we have no energy. Mental health starts to decline as well.

Fortunately, gardening helps older folks in all those areas.

Gardening is an enjoyable and low-intensity form of exercise. This makes it perfect for people who can’t perform more intense exercises that are hard on the joints. Gardening benefits for seniors include increased flexibility and mobility. Often retired people complain that they feel useless, and a regular gardening practice gives those people a sense of purpose and responsibility.

Gardening has been proven to help prevent bone health problems like osteoporosis, and it helps reverse the natural loss of muscle mass, endurance and strength as we age. By encouraging the use of motor skills, gardening decreases the odds that an elderly person will fall. Injuries from falling increase considerably once someone turns 60, and gardening can help keep that from happening.

Now that we have covered a few of the rewards of gardening for older adults, what can the youngest folks expect?

Gardening benefits for toddlers, preschoolers and older kids

Boys gardening with their daddy

The bodies and minds of children are constantly growing. It doesn’t matter whether a child is 2, 6 or 12 years old, the human growth process is constantly working. Positively impacting different types of growth is possible by introducing gardening to children of all ages.

When you expose your child to different kinds of gardening, you enhance her creativity. She learns that gardening can be used as an art form as well as to grow food. Getting your kids to join you in the garden at a very young age ensures fine motor skill development. Your kids enjoy improved respiratory and heart health because they are exercising and breathing in air from the great outdoors, rather than the manufactured air in your home while they stare at their phone or computer.

Children learn the natural and scientific processes which turn an inanimate seed into a growing, living thing. The responsibility, purpose and pride a child gets when his efforts raise a seedling into a full-grown plant or flower are priceless. Planning and organizational skills are boosted, and you can teach your child to appreciate and take care of the environment through gardening.

Talk with your friends and neighbors that also have children. Build a community garden if you can. Have your child give a flower gift to a friend. These practices help kids learn healthy socializing behaviors that positively impact their lives when they are away from your home, and these skills help them as adults. There are so many amazing advantages of gardening for kids.

If you don’t have children of your own, you can work with a local school or library to help introduce this incredibly beneficial hobby to kids in your area. There are probably children out there right now that are not receiving positive influences from their elders, and sharing your love of gardening could help them in so many ways.

The many benefits of community gardening

Community Garden in Santa Monica, California

So far we have talked about the rewards received mostly from individual gardens. Community gardens have a lot to offer. A group of individuals in a neighborhood come together to build and cultivate a garden of some kind. Community gardens are often used to produce vegetables, herbs and fruits that can help people adopt a healthy eating practice and even save some money at the grocery store.

The benefits of community garden include social health. Neighborhoods and communities which have built these types of project gardens report lower crime levels and improved social support. This is because people invariably get to know each other, and since they are all working towards a common goal, it is easy for them to empathize with one another.

Community gardens are sometimes built for decorative purposes only. The great beauty of a multicolored and aromatically tantalizing garden benefits anyone who sees or smells it. Everyone who encounters this type of gorgeous garden experience receives the depression-fighting, stress-relieving benefits we mentioned earlier.

The ecological rewards are huge. Previously unused acres of land turn into providers of fresh fruits and vegetables. The overall sense of pride in the community is enhanced. People move from their couches to their garden tools and in the process become physically healthier. Community gardens provide a feeling of social connectivity that mushrooms out and influences the development of other positive, community-based endeavors.

The benefits of gardening for individuals are shared by you and your neighbors when you build a community garden.

Benefits of urban gardening

Urban greening - a thriving city garden

Many community gardens are built in urban areas. In many cases, the introduction of gardening to urban communities is the first time the idea of growing food locally has ever been entertained. The term urban applies to the largest localized collections of human beings. This means most urban areas have high populations (big cities like New York and San Francisco), and this unfortunately means a lack of healthy food choices in many cases. Urban gardens can change that.

One of the benefits of urban gardening is improved creativity. Finding a land where you can grow something is often a task in a big city. This means creative juices have to get flowing so that window boxes, community spaces and rooftops can be transformed into gardens. A lack of wide-open spaces means innovative techniques are often developed.

One example is the vertical aquaponic gardening system named The Growing Experience in Long Beach, California. In limited horizontal spaces, a vertical gardening approach using aquaponics consistently produces 3 to 4 times as much produce as traditional, “old school” farming methods and less water is needed.

Since fruits and vegetables have to travel thousands of miles to reach some cities, urban gardening benefits include fewer carbon emissions and cleaner air to breathe. Economic growth often occurs because people are creating their own food supplies. This means less money spent on groceries which profit some far-flung food manufacturer, and more money spent locally.

Large urban farms can create job opportunities, food quality is improved, public health receives a positive boost in a number of ways, and previously sedentary individuals begin to embrace the physical nature of gardening. Gardening can help just about anyone, anywhere in so many ways, and urban gardening proves you don’t always need a lot of green space and naturally occurring dirt to reap those rewards.

Conclusion – gardening benefits are endless

Whether you are young or old, the physical benefits of gardening include increased mobility and flexibility, more strength and balance, and better fine motor skills. Your brain and emotions benefit, you begin feeling better after just a few minutes in your garden, and neighborhood projects like urban gardens and community gardens make your little corner of the world better for everyone.

You also improve the health of the planet as well as your loved ones.

Make sure you get out in your garden today. If you haven’t started a garden yet, I will be happy to help you in any way I can. I am a big believer in the many benefits of gardening, and as a way to thank you for stopping by my little corner of the web, I want to help you get those benefits too. No matter how you want to improve your health (mentally, emotionally or physically), gardening can help. Thanks for spending this time with me talking about a subject I love, and here’s hoping you experience the many substantial benefits of gardening regularly … just like I do.

Father showing seedlings to his 2 young children

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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