Have you tasted a ripe tomato fresh off the vine? The taste is incomparable to what you get at the grocery store. Now imagine going into your backyard and having your pick of fresh produce for dinner. Enticing, isn’t it?
You might be wondering why a blog about change and personal development is covering cycling and gardening. When it comes to change and creating our best lives, we need to start with a solid foundation. Health is one of the cornerstones of that foundation.
Sprouting A New Passion
I always loved the allure of gardening. Just thinking about it brought back memories of spending time with my grandmother when I was young. We also love to cook and have always tried to eat healthfully. Every summer I reminded Jer that “when I retire, I’m going to have a huge garden.”
I don’t know why, but somewhere along the way I picked up this false idea that you spend the first 60+ years working really hard and saving money. Then someday you can retire and do all the things you’ve been dreaming of.
Thankfully I came to my senses and realized I had it all wrong. I slowly began making changes, cutting what wasn’t important and adding in all of my someday dreams. This is my sixth season playing in the dirt and although there are periods where it seems overwhelming, it has been a great addition to our life.
If you don’t have the time or space, you can still benefit from a small container garden or a pot of herbs. Many cities offer community gardens. You could even consider splitting the time and space with a friend. If you have kids, gardening is a fun, educational and healthful family activity. Here are five more reasons to get your hands dirty.
5 Ways Gardening Will Change Your Life
1 – Fresh Food Tastes Better
Asparagus from my garden and asparagus from the store don’t taste like they’re related. The same goes for carrots, tomatoes, raspberries, kohlrabi … Shall I continue?
Much of our store-bought produce is picked long before it’s ripe so that it can survive shipping thousands of miles and sitting on grocery store shelves. It doesn’t have the chance to develop the flavors that come from vine ripening. If you want a taste of the most amazing produce the earth can offer, throw down some seeds in your own backyard.
2 – Home Grown Food is Better for You
By growing your own produce, you know exactly what’s in it. You have control over the seeds and you choose whether or not you use organic methods. Jer and I are pretty strict about not consuming chemicals. We pay close attention to the Environmental Working Group’s clean and dirty list. By growing our own food, we can rest assured that there are less harmful chemicals sneaking their way into our diet.
Experts also believe that homegrown food is more nutritious. Long shipping windows mean that fresh produce is losing nutrients before it even makes it to the grocery store. The premature harvest interrupts the ripening process limiting nutrient development. The closer you can get to the source, the better product you’ll get, and there’s nothing closer that your own yard.
3 – Growing a Garden Saves Money
Growing your own food saves money, especially if you prefer organics. I prefer to buy starter plants instead of seeds so that I get a longer harvest period. I recently picked up a 4 pack of lettuce plants for $3. That’s the same price as 5 ounces of organic lettuce from the store. We should be able to harvest from those plants for at least two months, saving around $50.
In addition to saving on the cost of food, you’ll save time and money by making fewer trips to the grocery store. Having less lawn to care for will save you even more. And who wants to go out for dinner when you have the best food in the city right in your back yard?
There’s even the opportunity to make a little money. It would be simple to set up a little farm stand selling freshly picked produce from your front yard. Or you could take it a step further and sell your specialty canned goods. I know a woman who grows what she needs to make homemade salsa, then sells it to her friends and colleagues. It’s a nice little summer bonus.
4 – Gardening Strengthens Your Mind
Every spring I procrastinate getting started. The amount of work seems overwhelming. But as soon as I force myself to get out there I remember how therapeutic it is. Gardening is a great stress reliever and a wonderful form of meditation.
Gardening can be incredibly fun and a bit challenging. Keep your mind sharp by learning as you go. You’ll learn to identify pests and the best organic practices to prevent root rot. Gardening is a lifetime experiment so you’ll never get bored.
5 – Playing in the Dirt Does Your Body Good
Gardening also happens to be really good exercise. No need to hit the gym if you have a day of shoveling and hoeing ahead. General gardening can burn up to 400 calories per hour. It’s a win-win. Get in shape while growing the food that will help you stay in shape.
There’s something deeply satisfying about the process of sowing and reaping. From the moment you begin preparing your beds you are connected to the creation of something that will nourish your body. Throughout the process of planning and caring for your crops, your creativity and intuition work together produce a healthful and abundant reward.
This weekend just so happens to be a great time to put together a last-minute garden. You’ll be enjoying better tasting and healthier food before you know it. And you’ll strengthen your mind and body along the way. If you’re unsure, there’s no harm in starting small. Most importantly, have fun.
If you have a garden, what are your favorite things to grow?
If you don’t garden, what’s holding you back?
Share in the comments below.