Categories
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.

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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.

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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. 

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Urban Farming

5 REASONS TO GROW YOUR OWN FOOD

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

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

Five reasons to grow your own food include:

1. More Nutritious

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

2. Stay Active

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

3. Get Vitamin D

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

4. Save Money

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

5. Better for the Environment

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

Categories
Urban Farming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Start small. 

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

2. Finding the proper spot.

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

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

3. Access to water.

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

4. Preparing the soil.

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

5. Add organic compost.

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

6. Create beds. 

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

7. Grading of the beds. 

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

8. Water the garden. 

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

9. Plant your new seeds.

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

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

The Many Benefits of Home Gardening

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

Food security.

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

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

Reduced cortisol in the body – less stress.

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

Improved immune system.

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

Good workout.

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

Reduce your carbon footprint.

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

Increase property value

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

Tips for Home Gardening

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

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

Home Gardening Can Change Your Life

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

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Urban Farming

What are the Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden?

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

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

Vegetables being planted in the garden

Contents [hide]

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

Improve Your Health

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

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

Save Money on Food

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

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

Newly sprouted plants being held.

It’s Eco-Friendly

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

Effective and Enjoyable Workout

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

A bunch of vegetables being carried

Healthy, Sustainable Food

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

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

Minimize Waste

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

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

Different kinds of vegetables on the table

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

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

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Urban Farming

The 6 Amazing Benefits of Gardening in Your Backyard

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

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

Outdoor Happens is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Click to learn more

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1. The Health Benefits of Gardening

benefits-of-gardening-for-kids

Gardening as Exercise

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

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

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

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

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

Absorb Some Vitamin D

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

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

2. Benefits of Gardening for Kids

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

Gardening Encourages Picky Eaters to Try More Vegetables

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

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

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

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

Incorporate Gardening into Your Home School Plan

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

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

How to Grow Your Own Food

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

Where Food Comes From

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

How Plants Grow

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

Backyard Ecosystems

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

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

Woodworking

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

Physical Literacy

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

Emotional Maturity

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

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

Gardening Decreases Allergies in Children

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Time to get your hands dirty!

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

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

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

3. Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

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The Antidepressant Properties of Soil Microbes

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

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

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

The Joys of Harvesting Your Own Food

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

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

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

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Ah, the reward!

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

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

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

4. Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

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Passionfruit, cucumbers, and tomatoes… Heaven on earth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Benefits of School and Community Gardens

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Community Gardens Build Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detroit: How Community Gardens Can Transform a City

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

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

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

So what is Detroit doing about its food crisis?

They’re gardening.

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

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

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

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

6. Benefits of Gardening for the Environment

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Your Garden Minimizes Your Carbon Footprint

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

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

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

When you grow a garden, you are:

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

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

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

Gardening Saves Bees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go Organic

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

Maximize Your Nectar Flow

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

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

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

Make Bee Watering Stations

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

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

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

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

Designate Space for Native Bees

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

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

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Winnie loves “The Desert”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Urban Farming

The Advantages of Home Gardens

Easy Access to Produce

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

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

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

Control over Inputs

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

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

Less Environmental Impact

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

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

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

Benefits of Gardening as Hobby

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

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

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Urban Farming

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening

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

1. Gardening can build self-esteem. 

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

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

2. Gardening is good for your heart. 

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

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

3. Gardening reduces stress.

Gardening can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

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

4. Gardening can make you happy. 

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

5. Gardening can improve your hand strength.  

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

6. Gardening is good for the whole family.

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

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

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

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

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

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