Gardening offers many benefits, whether you have an expansive yard with room for huge flower and vegetable beds, or if you live in an apartment with a small balcony just large enough for a few containers. Aesthetically, a well-tended garden is pleasing to look at, for you the gardener and for your friends and neighbors. You will enjoy just looking at the rewards of your labor, and the compliments from your neighbors will add to your satisfaction.
The therapeutic benefits also include stress relief in the activity itself. Working outside in the trees and grass and digging in the dirt are great ways to shift your focus from mental stresses to physical exercise and nature. As you concentrate on the weeds, the seeds and the bees your mind lets go of the things that frustrate you. You will discover a whole new world in the soil and in your garden as you watch things grow.
The boost to your motivation and positive attitude should be reason enough to want to grow something. Of course, the benefits of growing your own food go far beyond stress relief. Gardening can be a great form of exercise, if you have beds that need to be turned, weeded, mulched and holes dug for planting. Imagine losing weight and gaining muscular strength while growing food and flowers that please you. You win twice!
When you grow your own vegetables, you know exactly how the crop has been grown. If you don’t use harsh chemical pesticides to control bugs and herbicides to control weeds, you will have vegetables that are free of any chemical agents. When you buy vegetables in the supermarket, you have no idea what chemicals were used in their growing, harvesting or packing before they ended up on the shelf.
There can be a significant economic benefit to growing your own food. A small packet of seeds can grow hundreds of carrots, cabbages, kale, Swiss chard, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, zucchinis, onions, garlic and more at a fraction of the cost of buying those items in the store. Some plants, like kale, collards and Swiss chard, have very long seasons often lasting through the winter and into the next year. Many herbs such as chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme and others are perennials. One plant will keep producing for years.
Gardening can improve your social life as well. The garden and the process of gardening adds a new a talking point with neighbors and friends who visit you. You will impress friends and family when they learn that the vegetables on their plate came from your own garden, proudly tended and harvested by you. Their impression of you will improve as well, as one with broader interests, knowledge and the discipline and dedication to stay with the program through the entire season.
Don’t worry if you have never grown anything before. Planting seeds or seedlings in good soil with lots of compost, keeping it supplied with water and protected from weeds and bugs takes little more than diligence. Nature knows how to make the plants grow. All you have to do is be there to tend to it along the way. Pick up a simple book or two on gardening “made easy” and between that and what you learn simply by doing you will become an expert productive gardener in no time.