You don’t have to own acres of farmland to enjoy the benefits of gardening. Growing your own food and enjoying some fresh flowers can be done even with just a few patio pots if need be, but even a small patch of dirt can change your life for the better. Gardening is the number one hobby in the country, and its popularity is growing as more people discover the joys of growing their own organic food.
Check out some of the biggest benefits of starting your own backyard garden patch:
Gardening Makes You Happy
It’s not just the fresh air and sunshine — though those certainly help your mood, too! Recent research has shown that bacteria found in garden soil actually trigger the release of serotonin, your body’s natural mood-boosting hormone. These bacteria are also being studied as a cure for cancer, so it’s powerful stuff — and all you have to do to experience it is sink your fingers into the soil.
Gardening Helps You Eat Better
If you are what you eat, why not fill your plate with fresh, organic veggies you grow yourself? When you control your growing conditions, you can avoid dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, and you get to pick your food when it’s perfectly ripe. According to researchers at Harvard University, this allows your produce to develop more nutrients than store-bought items that are picked early for shipping.
Gardening Is Educational
Growing fruits and veggies is a great activity for families to enjoy together, and starting a garden can bring home many hands-on lessons to young children. You can impart lessons in responsibility and help kids build confidence as they nurture seeds into plants, and you can engage older kids in real-world math and geometry lessons as they calculate how to plant their plot. Add in some food preparation and preservation, and you’ve added a full home economics course to your summer!
Gardening Reduces Stress
Gardening gives you a chance to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, all of which can reduce stress and keep anxiety at bay. It also gives you a chance to set aside other worries as you focus fully on the task at hand, whether it’s sowing seeds or pulling weeds. You can also express your creativity by designing pretty flower gardens and bouquets to bring some color into your home and create a lovely, restful space.
It’s Easy to Get Started
If you’re a first-time gardener, it’s best to start small with a large container or small raised bed so you can control the soil and fertilizer — and avoid the backbreaking work of breaking sod to create your garden. Choose healthy plants from a local garden center to get your garden off to a good start. Tomatoes, lettuces and herbs are easy vegetables for beginners. To cut down on your weeding and keep the soil moist, add a layer of mulch to your garden once you’ve planted and watered in your plants.
Once your plants are in the ground, be sure they get about an inch of rain — or water from your hose — each week, and keep the soil clear of weeds. Pulling weeds doesn’t have to be a chore if you stay on top of the task. Take a tour of your garden at least once a week to check for weeds or insects so things don’t get out of hand.
Once your fruits or veggies are mature, be sure to enjoy your harvest as soon as possible — they’ll taste best if you eat them within a day or two of picking. You can also try your hand at pickling and canning to make the fruits of your labors last all winter long. Be careful, though: Once you’ve savored the incredible flavor of truly fresh produce, you may never want to go back to your grocery store again!
Today’s guest post was by Bobbi Peterson. Bobbi Peterson loves writing and regularly posts on her blog Living Life Green. She’s also a freelance writer, green living advocate and environmentalist. You can find more from Bobbi on Twitter.
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