A Busy Mom's Take On Life

Category: Gardening (Page 1 of 2)

Top 6 Benefits of Gardening

Have you been dying to start a garden? Or maybe you’ve been gardening for years? Either way, do you know the actual benefits of gardening? Gardening is good for your whole self—body, mind, soul—and good for your budget, family, and the environment to boot. Here are six benefits of gardening (I am sure there are more) that you may not be aware of.

#1. Gardening is Good for Your Body

Great Exercise

Benefits of GardeningWho needs exercise? Everyone, that’s who! Gardening is just one more way you can squeeze a little extra calorie burning into your day. According to WebMD, gardening can burn anywhere between 200 and 400 calories an hour. Obviously, this will vary depending on the particular gardening task. However, I can attest that weeding provides a great opportunity for exertion.

In addition to the calorie-burning benefits of gardening, being out in the sunshine and fresh air is good for your physical health as well. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient our body produces when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight. According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin D deficiency can cause problems in bones and may even be linked to diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. Getting out in the sunshine (make sure to wear sunscreen and protective clothing) can help to make sure you are getting plenty of this vital nutrient.

Getting Your Fruits and Veggies

Benefits of GardeningBesides the physical act of gardening, the vegetables and fruits you grow are important for your health. When you grow your own, you have control over whether or not to use pesticides or fertilizers. What’s more, nothing tastes better than fresh, home-grown produce. Don’t believe me? Try it and see. Grow a tomato (or buy one at a farmer’s market) and compare it to a tomato from your local grocery store. The difference is amazing. 

Naturally, it follows that the better our veggies taste the more we will actually eat. Plus, having so much fresh produce right on hand forces you to be more creative with your cooking in order to eat it all—hello fried squash blossoms, chive blossom cream cheese, and zucchini everything! An article in Medical News Today claimed that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can aid in weight loss, improve mood and memory, reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, and even help you sleep better.

#2. Gardening is Good for Your Mind

benefits of gardening

Planning a successful flower or vegetable garden takes a great deal of knowledge, planning, and creativity. This planning process is a great way to sharpen your mind. I have read hours worth of articles, blogs, and books on gardening. To compare prices and customer reviews, I have poured over seed catalogs and websites. I have even made spreadsheets—yes, spreadsheets—to track my spending, planting times, care schedules, etc. 

All of the planning and decision-making has challenged my creativity and improved my critical thinking. Gardening is an exercise in trial and error and the learning curve is steep. There is always something new to be learned and new challenges to undertake. Read my post Four Simple Tips for Starting Your First Garden to learn more about how to plan your first garden.

#3. Gardening is Good for Your Budget

Reduce Your Spending on Fruits and Veggies

Simple Gardening Tips benefits of gardening

I must qualify this point slightly, vegetable gardening can be good for your budget. If you spend lots of money on your supplies, by seedlings from nurseries, and spare no expense, well, then no, you won’t save any money. However, gardening can be done to fit any budget. And vegetable gardening can certainly save you money on groceries.

The trick is to figure out what you spend on produce at the grocery store in a year and then make sure that your total garden budget is less. There are a lot of ways to save money on gardening too. Investing in non-consumable supplies like raised beds, tools, and a watering system are worth spending a little more on to get started. Although, you would be surprised what you can find at the dollar store, facebook buy and sell groups, and on sale.

Save Money on Consumables

Seed Starting benefits of gardeningWhat you really need to focus on to save money are consumable things like plants, seeds, fertilizer, compost, and water. The biggest money saver is to start your plants from seeds. This is considerably more difficult than just buying them as seedlings from a nursery. However, it can be done (see my post Seed Starting 101 (A Step by Step Guide for Beginners)) and it is a fraction of the cost. 

Things like fertilizer and compost can also get expensive, but you can save money by making your own compost or buying compost from cheaper sources. Some landfills offer much cheaper compost in large amounts—just make sure it has been tested and properly certified for garden use. 

Watering can also cost a pretty penny, but you can reduce costs by using a watering system, like a drip line, to water your plants more efficiently. You can also save water by mulching around your plants. To learn more about water-wise gardening and landscaping, check out this post about The Seven Features of a Water-Wise Garden.

#4. Gardening is Good for Your Family and Friends

Kids in the GardenBenefits of Gardening

If you have young people in your life, whether nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or your own children, they can also reap the benefits of gardening. Invite the kids to help you in the gardening process, they will learn so much. And, if the gardening bug bites them too, they will have a constructive hobby that they can pursue for a lifetime.

Benefits of GardeningThe benefits of gardening apply to kids just as much as they do to adults, and you might be surprised at how much they will enjoy it. My girls (3 and 5) enjoyed helping me pick flower seeds, plant, and harvest. The more fun parts of gardening will engage them and excite them, and the less-fun parts (like weeding) will teach them about hard work and diligence. Need ideas about how to get kids involved? Check out these great activities from KidsGardening.org.

Gifts from the GardenBenefits of Gardening

In addition to children, gardening will benefit other family members and friends. I love to use my fresh produce as gifts. Zucchini and baked goods involving zucchini make great gifts for neighbors and co-workers. I have made herbed cream cheese and butter that make for great gifts as well. Everyone loves fresh produce and tasty homemade goods, they appreciate the extra effort that goes into it.

#5. Gardening is Good for the Environment

Benefits of GardeningControl the Chemicals

What is greener than home-grown produce? Nothing. As stated earlier, when you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you decide what chemicals are used in their production. Making your own organic compost to enrich your soil not only ensures that you will use fewer synthetic fertilizers, but it is also a great way to recycle your table scraps. Read step-by-step instructions on composting in Better Homes and Gardens: How to Compost.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprintbenefits of gardening

What’s more, one of the biggest culprits when it comes to increasing our carbon footprints is shipping. When your produce is shipped from far away, the packaging used to protect it and the fuel used for transportation not only increase the cost but also the environmental impact. You can easily reduce the plastics and carbon emissions put into the environment (albeit in a small way) by growing your own at home.

Help Preserve Pollinators

benefits of gardeningAs any gardener can tell you, bees are an essential part of the growing process. Bees and other pollinators ensure that our plants are able to produce and reproduce. Unfortunately, bee populations have been declining at alarming rates in recent years. While there is much disagreement over the exact causes of this decline and on-going debate about many of the potential solutions, one thing everyone can agree on is that bees benefit from increased habitat. This is where gardeners come in! You can plant your very own pollinator garden and benefit from a symbiotic relationship with bees and other pollinating insects. There are many lovely plants that will attract bees, but for specific instructions check out the Honey Bee Conservancy’s article on How to Plant a Bee Garden

#6. Gardening is Good for your Soul

Benefits of GardeningI saved my favorite benefit of gardening for last. Gardening is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. I have often struggled with crippling fear and anxiety. For me, one of the most important benefits of gardening is managing my anxiety (read more about Coping Strategies for Anxiety). Being outside in nature has been shown to boost your mood, reduce stress, calm anxiety, improve mindfulness, and promote gratitude according to Resources to Recover. Exercise (like pulling weeds, digging, hoeing) and exposure to sunlight are also thought to increase serotonin levels (6 Ways to Boost Serotonin Without Medication).

Benefits of GardeningOf course, anyone who gardens will tell you that, beyond all the science, there is an almost spiritual connection to having your hands in the dirt, working the soil. I can’t adequately describe the profound satisfaction that comes from watching the progress of plants from tiny seeds to little seedling to beautiful flower or tasty veggie. It is clearly the wonder of God’s creation and the beauty of life unfolding before your eyes.

Get  Going and Reap the Benefits of Gardening!

Benefits of GardeningAs you can see, gardening is a truly healthful and relaxing hobby that anyone can do. Whether your garden is as large as half your yard or as small as a single container, there are benefits to be reaped. If you don’t already have a garden, start something today!

Tell me what you think. What are your reasons for gardening? What are the benefits you have experienced? Please comment below, I would love to hear from you!

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Seed Starting 101 (A Step by Step Guide for Beginners)

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Seed Starting 101 (A Step by Step Guide for Beginners)

You’ve decided to plant a garden! You have a plan, a vision, goals (if not see my post on starting your first garden)! Now what?! It’s time for starting your seeds! Don’t be intimidated! While starting your plant babies from seeds can be daunting, it is very doable!

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Four Simple Tips for Starting Your First Garden

You can have a garden! Yes, you. I don’t care how many plants you have killed, if I can do it, anyone can do it! You just need a few simple garden tips.

For many years I considered myself to be a “black thumb” when it came to gardening. In college, I killed a cactus–yes a cactus. I had never met a healthy green plant that I couldn’t turn into a withered, shriveled, pitiful little heap of twigs. In fact, my house plants closely resembled Ursula’s garden from The Little Mermaid.

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Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 9 — 5 Things I Learned

I think it is official. I am no longer a “black thumb.” When I first started my  vegetable gardening journey, I knew nothing except my previous attempts (and failures) at keeping anything green alive. My college roommate can testify to my cactus murdering phase. Now, nearing the end of the growing season for my zone, I can safely claim a successful first garden. Virtually all of the vegetables I planted grew well.

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Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 8 – The Garden Grows

My Memorial Day deadline has come and gone–my garden has now been completely planted.

The garden is growing!! I have radishes, turnips, two pepper varieties, peas, beans, corn, pumpkin, summer squash, zucchini, onions, two varieties of cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, oak leaf lettuce, cabbage, fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts, garlic, chives, dill, cilantro, basil, and asparagus in the main garden. I also planted rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries in additional areas around my yard. In containers, I have my tomatoes, and additional strawberries and basil. Whew! That is a lot. Too much? That remains to be seen.

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Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 7 — The Garden

Garden Construction

Finally, the day has arrived!  My Garden is ready for planting!

 My very handy husband completed my new garden. In compliance with the sage advice from The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, we went with raised beds. My hubby built three long raised beds the two on the outside are 2′ x 22′ each and the center bed is 4′ x 18′ to leave room for a walkway and gates at either end. Additionally, each bed is separated by an 18″ walkway. It is perfect. I am so excited. 

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Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 6 – Grow Lights

The Pros and Cons of Grow Lights

I was thrilled to discover that Walmart sells LED grow lights! For several days I had been debating whether or not to order some LED lights off of Amazon or try out some simple fluorescent shop lights. I read that LED were better, and then there they were on the shelf in the lighting section of Walmart, beckoning to me with their seductive promise of green seedlings and a productive crops.

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Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 5 – Raised Beds

Beginner Gardening 101

Today I made a trip to the garden section of my local library. I love libraries—especially in this digital age—there Is something about the smell and feel of actual books. I love the weight of them in my hand, the feel of glossy pages filled with pictures . . . I checked out several books about gardening, probably too many. Given my busy schedule these days I won’t have time to read half of them.  

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Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 4 – Gardening To Do List

A Gardening “To Do” List

In the continuing saga of my gardening journey, I spent some time looking through the “To Do” list that Smart Gardener generated for me. The one negative I have to say about Smart Gardener is that the “To Do” list and calendar are not searchable. You have to scroll through the list of plants alphabetically or scroll through the calendar and search manually. Also, I had some seeds already—left over from my failed attempt at a vegetable garden last year, and ones I had impulse bought—which I wanted to track on my list.

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Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 3 – My First Plants

 First Planting . . . Strawberries

Today I planted my first seeds. As I said in my Day 2 post, according to Smart Gardener, I am already behind on my planting! I planted the strawberries without incident.  First, I bought some strawberry roots (and asparagus roots), Jiffy Peat Pots (size 3), a plastic Jiffy seed tray, and some soil designed for starting seeds. Next, I added some seed starting mix to the peat pots, a little water and mixed it up. Then I placed my strawberry roots, covered them with soil, and watered the tops. Finally, I put the peat pots in the seed tray so the water would have somewhere to drain and then covered them with plastic wrap.

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