Whether you have a huge piece of land or no room at all, I'll share my Top 10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Spend Time in the Garden.
This year I decided to put some time and energy into my garden and the results have far exceeded anything I ever imagined possible. I hope my personal story and photos lend inspiration to anyone who thinks they don't have what it takes to grow a successful garden.
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TOP 10 REASONS WHY EVERYONE SHOULD GARDEN
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Reason #1: Gardens provide a home for bees and butterflies
My plan is to mow down all the grass in my upper pasture by my vegetable garden next year and rototil in an abundant amount of Oregon native wildflower seeds. I thought this would be necessary to attract bees and butterflies.
I was so surprised this summer at how many bees and butterflies have come to visit my vegetable garden.
It brings me so much joy to walk up to the garden on a sunny day and see the butterflies dancing from plant to plant. I can't go out there without seeing bees of all shapes and sizes going from one plant to the next. Whether it be a sunflower or a cucumber plant or some rainbow chard that has gone to seed, the bees are everywhere!
If everyone were to focus a little time and energy on creating a home for these pollinators that are so vital to life, our world would be a better place.
Reason #2: Growing your own food is something everyone should do
This reason should be pretty obvious to everyone. Growing your own food comes with unlimited benefits.
Food just tastes better when you grow it yourself. Have you ever eaten a potato that just came out of the ground? I had never grown potatoes until this year, and it was literally a life chaning experience. I had no idea a potato could be so creamy and delicious.
Fresh picked produce retains the most flavor and nutrients. Once you eat something from your own garden, it won't even compare to anything you'll find in the grocery stores.
I also find that I incorporate a ton more vegetables when I grow them. I wouldn't be compelled to put shredded zucchini in every single thing I cooked if I hadn't planted too many zucchini plants. But now my pancakes are more nutritional because I sneak a handful of shredded zucchini in everything.
There's obviously a cost benefit to putting your sweat labor into your garden. A $2 pack of seeds could potentially produce hundreds of dollars worth of produce. I thought about weighing my harvest and calculating how much I would have had to spend at the store versus what it cost me to produce, but I don't garden for the money savings. I do it for the pure enjoyment.
Reason #3: Give yourself a sense of accomplishment
I had no idea how satisfying it would feel to transform a teeny tiny seed into plants that towered above me. Watching a super small seed, the size of the top of a pen, morphed into a giant head of green cabbage that went into two different dinners to feed my family.
From the time the plant starts to peek out of the dirt to the time it starts to provide food for my family, I am constantly amazed at how quickly the sun and water nourish the plants.
It is also overwhelmingly satisfying to be able to identify when you're watering your plant too much or too little by the way the leaves look. It's like my plants speak to me. When they're planted too close together and I'm able to recognize that I need to thin them out. When I pull off spent leaves and the plant continues to produce more. I have slowly realized that the more attention I give to my garden, the more it gives back to me.
Reason #4: Give your kids a deeper sense of appreciation
If your kids only ever know food that has come from a grocery store or a restaurant, how on earth will they ever appreciate what it takes to actually grow that food. How will they ever know how long it takes to grow a single watermelon, or how much sunlight and water is required to make something grow, or how susceptible an entire crop is to a single insect?
When your kids can see food go from a seed to your table after months of work, they will truly appreciate that bowl of soup full of garden vegetables you put in front of them rather than turn their noses up at it. Knowing that you created something out of almost nothing will give them that same sense of pride and appreciation that you feel.
Reason #5: Continuously learn
If we're not continuously learning throughout life, we're not growing and we're not improving.
I'm not gonna lie. I'm really damn proud of the garden I grew this year. Especially since I've always considered myself a novice gardener, at best.
I did a ton of research before anything started growing. I researched what kind of raised garden boxes we should make. I researched the best company to buy seeds from. I planned out which plants should go in which boxes and which should go in the ground. Multiple layouts were drawn. Spreadsheets were made. Discussions were had.
Then, once everything started growing, I realized what worked well and what didn't work at all. I took notes of what I planted too much of and not enough of. I was pleasantly surpised by a lot of things like how pretty the sunflowers looked intermixed with the corn. This was not what I had planned, but there was a huge mound of sunflowers growning (presumably from some seeds I accidentally dropped) and I transplanted them wherever there was room.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it is downright satisfying to continually learn and improve on what you've already done. I'm sure master gardeners would agree that every year they learn something new that makes their garden more successful.
Reason #6: Enjoy your moment of zen
I'm one of those people that never allows herself to stop and smell the roses. That pun was totally intended. My brain constantly goes a mile a minute. From thinking about my next ten steps that will grow my blog to juggling the kids' school and sports and activities, it feels like I never stop thinking.
The garden forces me to slow down and I've found that it's the closest thing to meditation that I've ever found.
For example, when I go out to pick blueberries, my mind is only focused on picking the ripe berries. That's it. I scan the sea of green and bypass all the different shades of greenish purple to find only the deep blue berries. Am I thinking about everything that needs to get done? No. Am I worried or stressed out? No.
All that certainly floods back into my brain as soon as I walk away from the garden, but when I'm there and in my zone, I find my zen.
Reason #7: Get unexpected exercise
I had to plant my garden pretty far away from the house because we have so many trees in our yard. I knew that one of the reasons why my garden sucked so bad at the last house was because the vegetable garden only got a few hours of direct sunlight each day. The vegetable garden at this house gets an abundant amount of sunshine.
One of the added benefits to having the garden not be directly next to the house is the extra steps required to get there and back.
I did plant a small container garden just ouside my kitchen window for herbs and salad greens because I'm lazy like that, but otherwise a trip to the garden is probably a good 500 steps.
I probably squat in the garden a heck of a lot more than I do with any other activity as well. From getting under the blueberry bush to look up or picking up weeds, these quads are strong.
Speaking of weeds... I actually found two tools that make me enjoy eliminating weeds! Since moving to this new property, we bought a weed scraper and a dandelion puller. The weed scraper is great exercise and nothing works better to get those nasty weeds out by their roots, especially in between the garden rows. The dandelion puller doesn't require much physical activity, but boy does it provide more of that zen I was talking about above!
Reason #8: Spend more time outdoors
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. 87% of their life is indoors, then another 6% of their life in automobiles.
Now, think about that 7% of time people spend outdoors... how much of it do you think is spent on their phone? That shouldn't even count, then, right?
Everyone should spend time in the garden, if for no other reason, to spend more time outdoors. Now, I know most people can't live on 10 acres. I realize I'm very unique (and lucky) because of this. But even if you live in a small apartment in the city, community gardens are everywhere. Get yourself a plot and get out there and grow something!
Reason #9: Gardening is good for the environment
I already talked about giving a home to bees and butterflies, which is obviously good for the environment.
But, every time I pick zucchini or radishes or peas from my garden, I think about how I didn't use a plastic bag from the store. I didn't use any gas to drive too and from the store. A truck didn't have to deliver my vegetables from the farm to the store.
Same goes for flowers. Not only do they give wild life resources, but filling your home with fresh flowers that you grew yourself is good all around.
Reason #10: Share your bounty
I like variety. I don't just want one type of tomato. I want at least 8 different types. Multiply that by two (I like to have redundancy just in case) and the result will likely be a crapload of tomatoes. I have a feeling my friends are going to love me once those organic giant heirloom tomatoes start ripening!
It feels good to grow something from scratch, but it feels even better to share that bounty with people. Have them over for dinner and feed them the food you've grown. Give them bags and bags of kale because you planted more than you could consume over the course of 5 years.
And, if you have chickens and goats, they'll be happy to share in the bounty too!
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