Written by Dwiti Kacharia
6 min read
Gardening – What Are the Benefits?
Here are 3 reasons why gardening is a health fix that everyone should adopt:
- Health benefits: growing your own food has multiple health benefits that are easy to incorporate into your lifestyle and easy to sustain.
- It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables – Growing your own food gives you healthier food options and helps avoid junk or processed foods. It’s also easier to eat healthy salads and fruits when it’s available right in your backyard without the hassle of having to shop or plan for these fresh ingredients.
- You can choose to go organic and avoid unwanted pesticides or preservatives – When you work on your own garden and plant a variety of veggies, it gives you a farm to table experience like none other. You can easily avoid harmful pesticides and fertilizers, and choose how you want to grow your plants and hence what goes on your plate.
- Physical benefits – The physical activity involved in digging and weeding strengthens your arm muscles and your cardiovascular system while the exposure to the sun provides healthy vitamin D.
- Mental benefits – Gardening has also proven to make you happier and reduce stress. Inhaling M. Vacae, a healthy bacteria found in soil, increases serotonin which helps reduce anxiety. This is one of the reasons why the smell of wet soil after the rains helps to elevate your mood. Moreover, the various activities and processes involved in gardening give the mind something to focus on while also reaping the actual benefits of your labour. This helps in reducing depression and anxiety while also uplifting self-esteem. In addition, engaging with gardening has increasingly been recognized as not only a cost-effective health intervention but also a treatment or occupational therapy for those with psychological health issues, also known as “horticultural therapy”
- Saves you money: healthy, hormone-free and pesticide-free organic food is expensive and difficult to sustain on a daily basis. When you grow your own organic food, you can eat healthy without the additional damage to your pockets.
- Better for the environment: gardening or growing your own food also has environmental benefits. Have you ever stopped to consider how your food gets to your table? Long-distance transportation not only produces carbon emissions into the atmosphere but also causes wastage of tons of food that goes bad or is discarded in transit. Additionally, the harmful effects of carcinogenic pesticides and fertilizers used in commercial farming not only hurts your body but also the environment. When you grow your own food, you know what to add and what to avoid. Similarly, when you learn more about gardening, you learn about many more environmental and weather-related concerns that can help make you more eco-conscious.
Gardening: Tips and Tricks
How and Where to Begin
If you are interested in gardening, it’s ideal to start by picking small and easy plants, vegetables, and herbs that you consume on a regular basis. There are many vegetables that are easy to grow and care for and take relatively little effort to maintain. Here are 10 quick tips that can help you to start gardening in your own backyard:
- Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of good daytime light and access to water.
- Use contaminant-free soil.
- Consider using a raised garden bed, which allows you to control the soil and nutrient blend.
- Talk to farmers or other backyard gardeners in your area to get a sense of what grows well in your region and when.
- Pick relatively simple and limited vegetables/herbs to grow. It is easy to get carried away and excited with the variety available but start slow.
- Create a plan to understand the space required for specific plants as they grow to their full length and decide on how to plant them based on how much sunlight each plant may need.
- Keep a notebook to write down ideas, watering requirements, and fertilizers to keep track of your plants and future plans.
- Set a calendar for general tasks based on specific seasons and time frames (e.g. time for fertilizing at the start of spring and how often, pruning after fall or cutting back on certain plants like roses during winter).
- Be consistent with your day to day efforts to water and maintain your garden. Timely watering, weeding, and pruning are some of the most important steps and hugely rewarding.
- Be patient—gardening is a process and impatience can be disastrous.
How to Maximize Space
Depending on where you live and the space available to you, this will largely define your gardening method. There are multiple ways to plant your garden depending on the space available, experience level, and how willing you are to get your hands dirty. Here are a few:
- Container gardening: for apartments and smaller spaces.
- Traditional in-ground gardening: for backyards and bigger spaces but requires work.
- Raised bed gardening: this requires outdoor space but relatively easy to maintain.
- Vertical gardening: for restrictive spaces but allows you to be innovative on where you want to set up your garden.
- Hydroponic or aquaponic gardening: these are more scientific and modern ways of gardening that require a proper set-up but they’re pretty interesting to learn.
- Square foot gardening: allows growing a variety of fruits and vegetables in a limited space.
- Upside-down gardening: this kind of gardening is traditionally used for tomatoes but you can grow a variety of plants in the similar manner to make optimum use of space.
- Hanging gardens: these kinds of gardens are also fascinating ways to grow your food in the restrictive spaces. Many vegetables can be easily grown in hanging baskets just like you would plant and hang flowers.
- Edible landscaping: replacing traditional flower beds or shrubs in your front yard or backyard with fruit and vegetable bushes.
There are many other ways you can choose to grow your food. You can read more about the different kinds of gardening methods here. In addition to this, growing herbs is another option for indoor gardening as they require very little space.
How to Be Innovative
Growing your own food can also be innovative and fun. Learning some fun hacks to grow your own food in smaller spaces and indoors can lead to interesting family experiments. Growing and cooking your own food as a family activity not only allows for quality family time but also teaches basic and necessary life-skills to children. Gardening is a project that can be an extremely fulfilling experience as the outcome of all your hard work is not only rewarding, but also satisfying for your tummy!
With the summer here, there is no better time to take up a new hobby that combines health, fitness and family time. Have any other gardening tips? Share them in the comments below.