If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would become an avid gardener, growing pounds and pounds of fresh produce every year – all the while trying my best to convince others to do the same, I would have called you crazy!
Because 10 years ago I couldn’t even keep a simple pothos plant alive. But that is exactly what happened.
This year marks my 8th year of gardening. The garden started as just a tiny corner in the backyard and has now grown to over 1000 square feet of gardening space. Over the years, I have become plant-obsessed. And digging in the dirt and growing my own food is one of my absolute favorite things to do!
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Why You Should Start a Garden This Year
There are so many amazing benefits to having a backyard garden and I wanted to share just a few in hopes of inspiring you to start a garden this year. So here are a few reasons why you should start a garden this year!
Homegrown Food Tastes Better
Anyone who has ever tasted a just-picked strawberry or tomato will tell you that it is far more delicious than anything you will find at the grocery store.
Grocery store tomatoes can be anywhere from 2-6 weeks old. And tomatoes are actually one of the freshest types of produce that you will find at the grocery store. Other types of fruits and vegetables are stored even longer than tomatoes before reaching the grocery store shelves.
Freshness has a huge effect on flavor. The fresher it is the yummier it is. And you can’t get any fresher than fresh-picked produce from your own backyard.
So if you have kids that are super picky about eating fruits and veggies or maybe you are the picky one, try some homegrown produce. I promise you, you will taste the difference.
Homegrown Food is Better Quality
Most of the produce sold in grocery stores is sprayed with pesticides. And even after washing, most of that pesticide remains on the produce.
Every few years scientists from the CDC measure the number of pesticides and other chemicals found in the bodies of Americans. In the most recent study, close to 44 different pesticides were found. Including DDT breakdown products, even though the chemical hasn’t been widely used in the United States since 1972!
Many of these chemicals have been linked to learning disabilities, reproductive issues, birth defects, cancer, and more.
When you grow your food at home, you have complete control over the products that are used in your garden. You don’t have to worry about your food being sprayed with dangerous chemicals.
You Can Grow Food You Can’t Get at The Grocery Store
This may sound really dumb or maybe you can relate but when I first started gardening I had no clue yellow tomatoes or purple carrots existed. I just always thought tomatoes are red and carrots are orange because that is all I would ever see at the grocery store.
Fast forward to 2021 and you can find a little bit more variety of produce at the grocery store thanks to the growing demand for heirloom and organic produce. But there is still a whole other world of fruit and vegetables out there that don’t get the attention they deserve.
This year we are growing a golden zucchini and a lemon squash which I had never even heard of let alone seen at the grocery store before. We’re also growing yellow tomatoes, white tomatoes, purple tomatoes, orange tomatoes, and a ton of other varieties.
So my point is – when you grow your own food you have the opportunity to eat food you might otherwise not have even known existed.
My hands-down favorite place to buy heirloom seeds is Baker Creek Seed Company.
Gardening is Good for Your Mental Health
You probably already know that the sun is the best source of vitamin d. Spending time working in the garden is a fun, productive way to get the vitamin d your body needs.
Vitamin d can help to regulate your mood and ward off depression.
Gardening is also a great way to get your mind off of things that are worrying you or stressing you out. One study done in 2010 confirmed the stress-relieving effects of gardening. You can check it out here.
Gardening Is Great Exercize
There is a lot of physical labor involved in gardening. Weeding, digging, pruning, raking – these are all great calorie burners.
Gardening is a great way to get your body moving. Especially if you are not a fan of the gym or traditional workout methods.
Gardening Can Help You Save Money
There are varying opinions regarding whether or not gardening actually saves you money. Gardening can cost you a lot of money if you decide to go the raised bed route or if you buy plant starts instead of growing your plants from seed.
But if you can grow from seed and stick your plants straight into the ground, according to my math you can save a lot of money.
For example, the average cost of organic heirloom tomatoes in my area is $4 a pound. A tomato plant produces on average 10 pounds of tomatoes. So if I plant 10 tomato plants I could potentially be harvesting up to 100 pounds of tomatoes.
If I were to purchase 100 pounds of heirloom tomatoes from the grocery store it would cost me around $400! Of course, you have to factor in the cost of the seeds, water, and other items needed to help grow that plant.
But even after you add up your total gardening expenses, I guarantee you it will be nowhere close to $400. So I truly believe you can save a ton of money gardening.
If you don’t really care about heirloom or organic, the cost difference of purchasing tomatoes from the grocery store versus growing your own isn’t going to be quite as significant.
But if you don’t really care about growing heirlooms or organic produce you are really missing out on some of the best benefits of growing your own food.
Also, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention the time investment because like they say, time is money. And gardening can definitely take a lot of your time. Especially at the beginning of the season and during harvest time.
Some people would rather spend that time working to make money and then use that money to help buy better quality produce at the grocery store. Which I totally understand and definitely makes sense.
But I look at the work involved with gardening a little differently. I actually don’t look at it as work at all. When I’m in the garden I’m getting sunshine and nurturing my mental health (which I need desperately always), I’m getting exercise, and it’s also where my husband and I reconnect and talk and hang out.
So I would much rather be out in the garden growing food than working extra hours to make money to buy food. Does that make sense?
But with all that being said not all types of plants are going to be a giant money saver. Some plants require a lot of time and attention and don’t produce a whole lot. Plants like that may not be worth growing if your main goal is to save money.
But if your goal is to save money, I highly recommend growing tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and beans. These plants usually produce a ton of food with not a whole lot of work or time required.
Gardening will help you eat healthier
Everyone knows fruits and veggies are so good for your body.
When you grow your own food you never want your hard work to go to waste (plus homegrown food is super yummy too) so you usually eat all the fruits and veggies you grow which of course can be extremely beneficial to your health.
And if you are growing organically then you are avoiding all the nasty pesticides and insecticides that are used to grow most of the produce at the grocery store which is even better for your health.
Everyone Should Know How To Grow Food
Food is absolutely essential for life. We need food to live. And we have really lost our way as humans when it comes to food. Especially in America. So many kids think food comes from the grocery store. They have no clue how food is grown.
There is just something so amazing about how one teeny tiny tomato seed can produce a giant plant that can then grow pounds and pounds of tomatoes. And not only that, but each tomato that plant produces has hundreds of seeds inside that can grow a hundred more tomato plants.
I think that is so cool!
And I personally believe, knowing how to grow food is one of the most important things to learn and to pass on to our children.
Gardening and growing food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I think it’s important to at least learn how to do it. You may never be in a situation where you need to grow your own food but if you ever do end up in that situation somehow and you don’t know how, you’re in trouble!
So I truly believe learning how to grow food is one of the most important things you can learn to do in life!
Well, I hope I’ve convinced you to start a garden this year. As you can see there are so many amazing benefits to growing your own food. Gardening is one of the most live-giving, soul-nurturing things you can spend your time doing!