For a long time, I was someone who really wanted to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in her backyard, but I was too scared to take the leap and actually start a garden. I had all sorts of excuses:
I’ve never gardened before. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll probably kill everything. It’ll cost too much money. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough space. The list goes on…
But last fall I finally worked up the courage to start my first garden, and you know what I realized? It’s not hard! Yes, the process is imperfect and not everything always grows as well as we wish, but it is also so rewarding!
You CAN garden, and here are 15 reasons why I think you should.
1. To have fresh food
Food does not get any fresher or more local than when it comes straight from your back yard to your kitchen table.
2. To grow organic produce
It’s easy to avoid using chemical pesticides when gardening at home, and that means organic fruits and veggies for you and your family!
3. To eat better tasting fruits and vegetables
Trust me, a fresh tomato from your back yard tastes infinitely better than one at the grocery store that’s been stored and transported hundreds of miles before arriving at your table.
4. To save money
Seeds are so cheap compared to regular or organic produce at your grocery store, and you’ll get a lot more produce for your money, too.
5. To relieve stress
Yep, the simple act of gardening can actually reduce your stress level. Studies have shown that spending time in your garden can reduce your body’s level of cortisol, the hormone released when we’re stressed, and boost your mood.
6. To build confidence
There is no greater sense of achievement than telling someone, “I grew that myself!”
7. To help your kids learn
Allow your kids to get their hands dirty with you in the garden, and they’ll learn all kinds of things about plants, animals, math, nutrition, the weather, and more.
8. To prevent picky eating
If your kids are involved in the fun of growing something, they’ll be more likely to try it, opening them up to all kinds of new food experiences!
9. To improve your family’s health
Nutrition experts like me recommend that we all eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and you’re much more likely to meet that goal when the food is growing right in your yard. The health benefits of consuming fruits and veggies are practically endless. Eating produce provides us with the vitamins, minerals and fiber that our bodies need, plus tons of antioxidants to help prevent chronic disease.
10. To stay active
You might be surprised how much exercise you actually get while gardening, and it’s a heck of a lot more fun to grow your own food than it is to walk on a treadmill indoors.
11. To enjoy nature
These days, most of us end up stuck inside more than we realize. Take advantage of an excuse to get outside, smell the fresh air and soak up some sun while growing your own food!
12. To protect the environment
If you garden without pesticides, you can reduce harm to bees, butterflies and the environment in general. Plus, you can reduce your carbon footprint by growing your food at home, rather than buying it from the grocery story where the food has traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to get to your plate.
13. To share food in community
One of the things I love most about gardening is that you can never grow too much. Have way more tomatoes growing than your family can possibly eat? Share some with your neighbors, make salsa for your friends, or invite your extended family over for a spaghetti dinner. The possibilities for sharing your bounty are endless!
14. To try new things
How often do you branch out and try fruits and vegetables that aren’t familiar to you, or try using familiar vegetables in new recipes? Having a garden can be a great way to push yourself out of your comfort zone to try new foods and experiment with familiar foods in new ways.
15. To make your yard look beautiful
While food gardens certainly are practical, they can also make your yard look stunning. You can even plant some flowers in your vegetable garden. Certain varieties not only look beautiful but will actually help you keep pests away too!
If you are at all interested in growing some of your own food, I would encourage you to get going! You can grow a full-sized garden or just start with a few containers on your back porch. With all of these amazing benefits of gardening, there’s just no reason not to try it!