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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

Start Your Own Simple, Super-Productive Backyard Farm

Yearning for a more self-sufficient lifestyle? The solution might be as close as your own backyard. Whether you have an acre outside of town or a tiny city lot, you can benefit from making the most of your yard’s natural assets. The key is to treat your yard like a microfarm that needs investment, enrichment, harvesting and replenishment—and manage it accordingly.

Reduce lawn area. The typical swath of sod requires regular feeding, watering, weeding and mowing. With many communities mandating outdoor watering restrictions, not to mention environmental concerns about chemical fertilizers and emissions from gas-powered mowers, eliminating some or all of your lawn can be a positive step in creating a more earth-friendly, sustainable yard. One alternative is to simply tear out the turf and plant low-maintenance native, water-wise grasses, xeriscape plants or drought-resistant ground covers; you’ll reduce water use and have more time to enjoy your yard.

Converting lawn space to a vegetable garden goes one step further because land that previously sucked up resources can now generate abundant food. Growing your own produce still requires time and attention, but your investment is paid back in delicious edibles rather than do-nothing grass. A home compost pile can provide natural fertilizer to enrich soil while proper mulching can reduce the amount of water and weeding needed.

For step-by-step instructions about how to eliminate grass in preparation for a garden, read “Turning Sod Into Garden Soil.”

Landscape with edible plants. Many plants can do double-duty in the garden, providing color, foliage and visual interest while also producing food for you and your family. Fruit trees, many of which flower in the spring, can provide shade that cools the house in summer months. Dwarf varieties are a good choice for smaller yards, and fruit-bearing bushes such as raspberry, currant and blackberry can add structure to the garden and bear sweet berries for many years.

Produce plants can also be colorful, practical alternatives to flowering annuals. For example, scarlet runner beans are fast growers with showy red flowers and edible pods. Rhubarb’s giant ruffled leaves and vivid red-to-green stalks make unusual garden accent plants, and red and yellow cherry tomatoes provide bright pops of color. Edible flowers such as pansies and nasturtiums make pretty additions to salads, and nothing beats the sunflower for charm and height in the back of a sunny garden. Grapevines can be trained up a trellis or over a pergola, and colorful Swiss chard can be planted in hanging baskets. Ground covers such as strawberries, oregano and creeping thyme can fill in spaces under taller plants.

Grow the produce that makes sense for you. Consider what you buy and eat most, and plan your garden accordingly. If you make smoothies for breakfast, you might want to grow strawberries or kale for a ready source of ingredients. Perhaps your kids favor broccoli and peas, or you use a lot of fresh spinach and lettuce for salads. If you’re into beer making, you might consider growing your own hops. If you love to cook, you might grow hard-to-find gourmet foods such as haricots verts or French fingerling potatoes.

Periodically review your garden’s output from a financial perspective and calculate the cost of purchasing produce versus growing your own. If you love golden raspberries, which can be expensive and scarce at the store, you might save money by cultivating a few canes. On the other hand, if local sweet corn is three ears for a dollar in your area, it might make more sense to invest your time, money and garden space to grow another crop.

Re-evaluate your efforts at the end of the season, too. Were the beets a bust? Did you end up with a plethora of zucchini and not as many tomatoes as you’d have liked? Make adjustments to next year’s garden plan so you’re investing time and resources growing the things you will most eagerly eat and use. 

Grow up.  No matter what size yard you have, you can grow more food in less space by planting some crops vertically. Grow vining plants such as pole beans, peas and cucumbers straight up, supported by posts, teepees or cages. Vines can be coaxed to trail up a downspout, and trellises, wires or netting can also be attached to fences. Sprawling plants such as tomatoes, melons and squash can be trained to grow upright on heavy cages or trellises.

While they may need a little more attention to be sure they get plenty of water, vegetables grown vertically are less likely to be attacked by ground-dwelling slugs and snails, and they’re less susceptible to fungal diseases because of improved air circulation.

Use your rainwater. If you install rain barrels under your downspouts, you can collect and use the water that accumulates after a storm to irrigate parts of your garden. Commercially made rain barrels are available in many sizes and materials, and typically range in size from 50 to 80 gallons. Look for a model that has an overflow valve that kicks in and directs water away from your home when the barrel reaches capacity, a fine-mesh screen to keep insects out, and a spigot valve at the bottom to connect to a garden hose. You can also make your own; find instructions in How to Make a Rain Barrel. As a simpler alternative, you can simply place large stockpots outside when it rains and use the water for irrigating small spaces.

Not all states allow rainwater collection, so be sure to check regulations in your area. Even if you can’t install a rain barrel, you can still benefit from thundershowers by planting moisture-loving plants such as watercress, chervil or sorrel near areas where your gutter downspouts drain, or, if you live in a rainy area, creating a rain garden (get instructions in Reduce Stormwater Runoff with a Rain Garden). Also, enriching your soil will increase its ability to absorb and hold moisture—and reduce the amount of water that flows away from your property and down the storm drain.

Raise small farm animals or bees. Do you have a yard with a sturdy fence and space for a hive, coop or shed? Honeybees, fowl and small animals are increasingly being permitted on residential properties in many places; check your local zoning ordinances and research licensing or permit requirements. A modest flock of laying hens can supply your family with eggs, and the birds’ droppings provide excellent fertilizer. For milk, you might consider Nigerian Dwarf goats, which grow to about 70 pounds and can produce up to three quarts of milk a day. Honeybees are rarely aggressive and can often be kept in urban areas; in addition to providing honey and beeswax, they’ll help pollinate your garden. You can read much more about all of these possibilities.

Make your own soil enhancements. A compost heap or bin will complete the circle of life in your backyard, turning garden trimmings and food scraps into rich humus. Digging in compost improves garden soil by adding nutrients and organic matter, and it helps plants grow because the roots can reach deep in soils that aren’t compacted. Best of all, everything you need to make compost is usually readily available in the yard: grass cuttings; leaves and leaf mold; clay soil clumps; garden debris; and plant waste (just don’t add diseased plants or invasive weed plants that are in seed). You can find instructions to make a compost bin out of reclaimed shipping pallets (often available for free from area stores) in DIY Shipping Pallet Compost Bin.

Spreading a protective layer of mulch on top of soil and around plants reduces water usage and combats weeds. Organic mulch will also improve soil as it decomposes, and many yards already have materials that are perfect for the task—from grass clippings and leaves to pine needles and compost. If you need more mulch than your yard provides, you can always offer to clean up your neighbor’s yard in exchange for autumn leaves. Read more about compost and natural fertilizers in All About Organic Garden Fertilizers.


Harness the Sun

Dry your clothes for free. Electric clothes dryers are among the most expensive home appliances to operate, costing the average family $100 in annual utility costs. Hang damp laundry on a clothesline instead and take advantage of free sunshine and breezes to dry your clothes. The savings don’t stop there: Your dryer should last longer with less use so you’ll save on repair costs; during warmer months you’ll avoid adding heat to the air in your house; and line-dried clothes often last longer because the fibers aren’t worn from the movement in the dryer.

A few municipalities have banned clotheslines for aesthetic reasons, but a retractable clothesline, a collapsible model or a small standing rack may work for you. For stiff clothes such as cotton towels and blue jeans, a five-minute final tumble in the dryer after drying on the line will generally soften the fabric. Of course the biggest reason of all to hang laundry outside may be the fresh, clean aroma of sheets dried in the sunshine.

Power lights and small electronics. Even if you’re not ready to invest in rooftop solar panels, you can still channel your yard’s sunbeams into a free energy source. Consider solar-powered lights for nighttime illumination around your yard. The panels absorb sun power during the day and gradually release the light in the darkness. If you invest in portable accent lights (some look like candles or Mason jars), you can also bring them inside to cast a warm glow at your dinner table.

If you’re tired of replacing the batteries on your electric toothbrush, you can capture the sun via small solar chargers that will power rechargeable AA and AAA batteries as well as USB-compatible cell phones and GPS units. (Read more in Energizer Rechargeable Solar Charger.) Other easy-to-use solar gadgets include sun-powered radios, calculators and flashlights.

Try solar cooking. If you live in a dry climate where the days are typically sunny and hot during harvest time, you can preserve a variety of fruits and vegetables by dehydrating them in the sun. Dry the beans you pick from your garden, preserve your tomatoes by sun-drying them, and make your own fruit leathers and dried fruits such as plums and peaches—free of the preservatives and additives sometimes found in commercially dried foods. You can purchase a solar food dehydrator or make your own; for complete instructions read “Build a Solar Food Dehydrator.”

For even greater versatility, you can harness sunbeams to power a solar oven. On a sunny day, you can cook rice, eggs, chicken or fish in an hour or two, and if you have three to four hours you can cook vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and beans or even bread and muffins. Read more at “Making a Solar Cooker for Free.”


Healthy Enhancements

Our yards can also be places where we can enhance our health. Consider these ways your yard might become your at-home health ally.

1. Create a relaxing retreat. We become calm in the presence of breezes, birdsong and the gentle sounds of moving water. Consider creating a relaxation oasis in your yard by sectioning off a portion, planting wonderful-smelling plants all around (try lavender, lilac or lemon balm) and installing a fountain or other water feature. Add a comfortable chair and go to your private oasis whenever you need a moment of pure serenity.

2. Build an outdoor yoga studio.Exercising outdoors is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Cordon off a section of your yard with an outdoor privacy screen or a trellis planted with vining plants. Make sure it’s somewhere where the ground is flat. If you need a hard surface, LifeBoard is a portable hard floor designed for yoga practice on carpet or outdoors. It’s made out of 50 percent recycled and 100 percent recyclable materials and available from Amazon for about $100.

3. Grow your own medicine.Medicinal herbs—including chamomile, lemon balm, calendula, echinacea, yarrow and more—are easy to grow and transform into homemade medicinal products such as tinctures, teas and skin balms. Read about our 10 favorite, easy-to-grow medicinal herbs at The Medicinal Herb Garden: 10 Best Herbs to Grow.


Backyard Farm Bloggers

Visit these websites for ideas and inspiration from real-life people who are making the most of their urban and suburban gardens, and sharing their photos and experiences online:

Tenth Acre Farm
Amy Stross and her family tore out their lawn and planted an edible landscape in their suburban lot in Cincinnati.

Battery Rooftop Garden Blog
Gardening 35 stories above Manhattan, a team of intrepid growers raises everything from peaches to potatoes in a lush rooftop garden.

Urban Homestead
The original urban homesteaders, the Dervaes family farmers harvest 3 tons of organic food each year from a 1⁄10-acre garden on a city lot in Pasadena, California.

Categories
Urban Farming

10 Top Gardening Tips for Beginners

Never gardened before? No problem. Make your grow-you-own dreams a reality with these 10 easy-to-follow tips.

1. Site it right.

Starting a garden is just like real estate it’s all about location. Place your garden in a part of your yard where you’ll see it regularly (out of sight, out of mind definitely applies to gardening). That way, you’ll be much more likely to spend time in it.

Illustration of person planting in a raised bed.

2. Follow the sun.

Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you’re first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun in order to thrive.

3. Stay close to water.

One of the best gardening tips you’ll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don’t have to lug water to it each time your plants get thirsty. The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that’s about one knuckle deep). If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Illustration of three different types of Miracle-Gro soils.

4. Start with great soil.

When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil that is nutrient-rich and well-drained. Achieve this just-right blend by mixing 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil if you’re planning to plant in the ground. If you’re planting in a raised bed, use Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil, which is the perfect weight and texture for raised bed growing.

5. Consider containers.

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that’s large enough for the plant it’s hosting, and fill it with Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control® Potting Mix. Not only is it specially formulated to help plants in pots thrive, but it also helps protect against over- and under-watering.

Illustration of person holding a plant in each hand.

6. Choose the right plants.

It’s important to select plants that match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room (or a trellis to climb). Do your homework and pick varieties that will grow well where you live and in the space you have. And to get a step up on success when growing veggies and herbs, start with vigorous young plants from Bonnie Plants® instead of trying to grow from seed.

7. Discover your zone.

Knowing your “hardiness zone” can help you choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. So if a plant is “hardy to zone 4” and you garden in zone 5, that plant will survive in your yard. If, however, you’re in zone 3, it’s too cold to grow that particular plant. Find out your hardiness zone.

8. Learn your frost dates.

Planting too early (or late) in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don’t accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It’s also good to know your first average fall frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them. Discover the average first and last frost dates for your area.

Illustration of person mulching yard.

9. Add some mulch.

Apply a layer of mulch that’s 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. For a polished look, put down a layer of Scotts® bagged mulch. Or, you can put down straw, shredded leaves, pine straw, or some other locally available material.

10. Feed plants regularly.

We’ve already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success! So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with plant food like Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food. Be sure to follow label directions.

One last word of advice: Stock up on the basic tools you need to make it easier to grow. Get all the details in our Tools for Gardening article. Happy growing!

Categories
Urban Farming

What Is A Backyard Farm – Backyard Farming In The City

It is not uncommon to find flocks of urban chickens nowadays. This is a simple way to interpret backyard farming ideas. However, you don’t have to raise farm animals to try urban backyard farming. Even condo-dwellers can integrate the concept with raised food beds and container crops. Small spaces or large, backyard farming in the city is not only possible but it’s impossibly chic.  What is a Backyard Farm? Would you like to take control of what you put on your plate? Sick of processed foods, high veggie and fruit costs, or chemicals and dyes in your food? Urban backyard farming may be your answer. What is a backyard farm? It encompasses sustainable ideas, combines a variety of your favorite foods, and enhances the space. Your farm can provide you with organic meals and enough produce to share with family and friends. By starting slow and planning carefully, you can develop a garden that provides you with much of your food. Over time you can add elements as space, time, and expenses allow. A kitchen window herb garden is a simple way to start urban farming. Growing upside down tomatoes in summer or a tabletop planter of greens are also easy, inexpensive ways to start backyard farming crops. Backyard farms provide exercise, stress relief, healthier food, save money, enhance the garden, and in some regions produce food year around. You don’t have to devote all your yard to food production, and you don’t have to sacrifice that landscaped look. By tucking in edible plants that are beautiful and still grow food, you can have a finished look to your garden, and even indoors. Starting Backyard Farming in the City Unless you have done this before, the first rule is to start simple. Choose backyard farming crops that you enjoy eating. If there are existing plants, consider replacing them with those that produce food. 15.1M2K Information On Caring For Pothos Plants NOW PLAYING An ornamental maple is a thing of beauty during several seasons, but a fruit tree will provide your family food for a lifetime. Make sure you have a wide variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Utilize space by vertical gardening and make sure you start a compost pile, so you have plenty of ready “black gold” on hand. Once you have mastered a plan to integrate food into your space, you can branch out into other backyard farming ideas. Other Facets of Backyard Farms If you have the space, adding chickens is a great way to provide a constant supply of organic eggs. Feed them your kitchen scraps combined with chicken chow for balanced nutrition. Chickens will reduce pests in the garden and produce rich manure for your plants. You might also consider bee keeping, which can provide your own honey and plenty of pollinators to make your fruits and veggies grow. Encourage beneficial insects with insect houses and by using natural methods of pest and weed control. Don’t just focus on annual, seeded crops. Commit to perennials like asparagus, strawberries, and artichokes. There are no hard and fast rules for backyard farms, which is great. You can tailor the space to suit you and your family’s needs. This article was last updated on 08/26/20 Read more about Urban Gardens Did you find this helpful? Share it with your friends!

Read more at Gardening Know How: What Is A Backyard Farm – Backyard Farming In The City https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/urban/backyard-farming-in-the-city.htm

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Urban Farming

PLANTING POWER: EIGHT GREAT BENEFITS OF BACKYARD GARDENING

PINETREE GARDEN SEEDS WANTS YOU TO START GARDENING!

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

1. Exercise

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

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

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

2. Sunshine & Fresh Air

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

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

3. Mental Health

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

Gardening is good for improving mental health

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

4. Save Money

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

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

5. Good Eating

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

6. Build Community

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

Gardening with family


7. Save The Earth

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

8. Have So Much Fun

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

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

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Urban Farming

Backyard gardening: grow your own food, improve your health

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

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

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

Growing your own food has many health benefits:

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

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

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

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

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

If you don’t have space for a garden at home, a community garden is another option. You can find one in your community through the American Community Gardening Association.

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

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

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Urban Farming

Everything You Need to Know About Backyard Farming

Yearning for more sustainable living, an organic garden, but don’t know where to start? Dreaming of eating healthy vegetables and less processed foods?

The solution lies in your backyard. Whether you live on a small lot in the city or a piece of land outside town, there’s a lot to benefit from by having your own backyard farm.

Here is a quick start-up guide that will help you learn more about backyard farming.

Why you need to start backyard farming

Converting your lawn to a garden requires time, effort and will even suck up your resources. But, there’s a payoff.

Here’s are the benefits of backyard farming;

– Saving on groceries

One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is reducing your monthly food bill. You can grow your own groceries at a fraction of the cost in the stores. You will also be reducing your carbon footprint by reducing food miles. 

– Get to increase your physical activity

Before you even take a bite, you will benefit from vitamin D from the hours spent outdoors, which is vital for your health. Tending your backyard for 30 minutes daily is also a good source of physical activity which can help you burn calories and eventually lose weight and live a less sedentary lifestyle.

 Eat Healthily

Reducing your intake of processed foods and vegetables is a great step towards healthy living. Picking vegetables right from your garden will reduce your chemical intake from pesticides used on the vegetables. Vitamin and mineral content is also higher for freshly picked vegetables.

– Stress reliever

Gardening is a hobby to many and a stress reliever that leaves them feeling rejuvenated and happy overall.

Getting started

As a new gardener, starting on the wrong foot is a common fear that you might experience. Here are a few points to help you when starting a backyard farm.

Start small

Most new gardeners have high expectations when starting backyard farming. While it is important to have lofty goals, don’t set the bar too high when starting. Having high expectations might kill your motivation when the results turn out to be small or slow in coming.

You will be surprised at how much you can grow in a small area using the latest backyard farming techniques. Think of starting with a raised bed, or even a collection of container plants. All that is needed is a little creativity to trade in your high expectations and watch your garden become lush with beautiful plants.

Commit to 30 minutes a day

Or even less, depending on your yard size.

It is common to feel overwhelmed by the things that need to be done when starting out in backyard farming. Well, you don’t have to do it all at once. Have a 30-minutes-a-day strategy and you will realise how much you can get done when doing it consistently.

What should I grow?

Grow what your family likes eating.

No one would love to watch their family at the dinner table forcing themselves to eat what they don’t like just because you grew it.

So, be honest. Only grow what your family will enjoy eating.

Make a list, of what your family loves and needs in most of their meals. This will save you the agony of watching your hard work go to waste just because your family doesn’t like it.

After making a list, now figure out what does well in your climate and grow it. You can try growing plants that don’t do well in your climate with greenhouse techniques later, but for now, go for the easy wins.

Think of the perennials

All that most new gardeners see is growing vegetables. But what they later learn is that annual vegetables need to be worked on a lot. And, it might be unnecessary to do so much work when there are other low-maintenance crops they can plant.

Avoid getting overwhelmed by giving perennial crops a chance. You will benefit from products that come year after year without so much work. Some examples of perennials are strawberries, herbs, artichokes, asparagus and fruit trees.

If you have little time for your yard, perennials should be your top priority.

Get creative ideas from books

Get a book to read about backyard farming and watch your creativity soar with ideas.

You can also scan a lot of online resources for great farming ideas, especially small personal gardening blogs and YouTube videos. You will be amazed at how much people have been able to grow in even tiny yards.

Learn to deal with bugs

Avoid pesticides and research organic pest solutions and preventive ways to deal with any pest outbreak.

In conclusion

Backyard farming should be fun, don’t let it feel like it’s a chore. Just start small, incorporate all these concepts one at a time, and watch your yard flourish with healthy, nutritious plants you can use for your meals.

Featured image from Pixabay. 

About the author 

Steve Wright is a Freelance writer who loves cars, playing basketball and business. He works closely with https://scorpionwindowfilm.com and https://scorpioncoatings.com/ as a content specialist helping them build their online presence through friendly, engaging and shareable web content. When not hunched over his computer thinking loudly, you can find him playing pop music with his band, reading horror novels or travelling.LinkedInTumblrPinterestRedditVKontakteShare via EmailPrint

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Urban Farming

The Advantages of Home Gardens

Home gardens take on many forms, from a few plants in containers to large garden plots in the backyard. Beyond the reward of homegrown produce, the benefits of gardening as a hobby include health, environmental and enjoyment advantages for the gardener. The benefits of a home garden make the physical exertion and costs of gardening worth the effort.

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.https://63b3809db04406b7c1c2a72ffb20e37a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

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.https://63b3809db04406b7c1c2a72ffb20e37a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

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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 Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

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

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

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

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

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

Grow Your Own: A Vegetable Garden How-To Guide 
A Beginner’s Guide to Fruit and Vegetable Gardening 

— Laura Quinn RDN, CDN Sodexo Dietitian at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital