Published March 7, 2022

Ten Reasons to Grow a Garden

Written by
Charlene Nelson
| The Dakotan

Gardening is the most popular hobby in the U.S. right now. Each year more people take up gardening. Last year saw the biggest increase. An estimated six million gardened for the first time last year, and this year it is expected that even more people will join in this favorite pastime. If you haven't grown a garden before, now is the time to start. And to help get you started, here are ten reasons you should be gardening this year:

[Image: submitted by Charlene Nelson]

Save Money

A garden starts with a modest investment of just a few dollars in seeds. But it gives you hundreds of pounds of fresh fruits and veggies. The average gardener spends $70 on seeds and supplies and gets an average of $600 worth of produce in return. And if you preserve the surplus produce, you’ll save even more. If you are willing to do a bit of canning, freezing, or dehydrating, you can provide most of the fruits and vegetables your family will need for the entire year for a small investment.

Better nutrition

The food you get in the grocery store is picked days before it is ripe and long before the food has developed all its nutrients. Fruit from your garden can have as much as 30 times the nutrients that food in the grocery store. The fact is today's food is bred for one purpose: to withstand interstate transport and have a long shelf life. Nutrition never even enters into the equation. Consider this: 70 years ago an adult woman could get her daily requirement of vitamin A by eating two peaches. Today, she would need to eat 53 peaches to get the same amount of vitamin A. 

Better flavor

Mother nature uses flavor to entice us to eat well. Food picked too early not only lacks nutrients but flavor, as well. Even the food you buy at the Farmer’s Market is not just-picked fresh. It is usually picked a day or two before reaching the market. And who knows how long it was in the stands before you came along to buy it? Once you taste garden-fresh vegetables, nothing else can compare.

Save the Environment

When you garden, you can grow your food chemical-free, which has a lower impact on the environment. Bonus: you get organic food at a fraction of the cost of the organic food in the store. You also have less  impact on the environment, because your food isn’t being shipped in from hundreds of miles away and it’s not consuming energy to keep it in cold storage till it’s ready to be sold.

Stress relief

Scientists are now finding that gardening helps relief stress and improves mental health. There are many reasons for this. First, the fresh air helps clear the mind. The sound and smells of nature are soothing. Second, the repetitive nature of gardening chores creates a calm similar to meditation. Last, but not least, the creative process of gardening improves mental acuity.

Great exercise

Just 2.5 hours of moderate-to-intense physical activity a week can make you healthier. It can reduce the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, and colon cancer. Gardening does all of that for you and more. It also helps improve flexibility, balance, and physical endurance. All this without having to pay for gym membership.

Improve your health

Not only do you get the health benefits of better nutrition and exercise, but getting your hands in the dirt actually has other health benefits. The soil that you are digging into is filled with bacteria and micro-organisms that are beneficial to human health. You inhale these organisms while digging in the soil. Or they get inside you through cuts on your skin or a bit of dirt left on your veggies. Inside your body, these organism have many health-promoting benefits.

While you work in your garden, you are also absorbing a lot of vitamin D. Experts say that those who are fair skinned, wearing shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen, can get the equivalent of 10,000 IUs of vitamin D after just 10 minutes in the midday sun. (Darker complected people do not convert sunshine to vitamin D as easily and so will need more time in the sun for the same effect.)  Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones. It also lowers the risk of developing multiple sclerosis as well as prostate and breast cancer. Vitamin D helps the immune system fight viruses like colds, flu, and even COVID. Studies show that those with a healthy level of vitamin D in their blood saw an 80% reduction in intensive care admissions and a 60% reduction in COVID deaths.

Safe food

How many times do we hear about food safety recalls in the news?  Millions of tons of food is recalled every year because of chemical or biological contamination, improper storage, mislabeled food, or food with foreign objects in it. Even with all these recalls, the CDC says that 48 million people in the U.S. fall ill every year because of contaminated food.

But when you garden, you control the safety of your food through all stages of growing, harvest, and cooking. Grow your own food and you wont have to worry about some strange bug putting your family in the hospital.

Improve your home's value

A well-designed garden can increase your home’s value by as much as 12%. Studies show that community gardens foster closer-knit neighborhoods, reduce crime, and increase property values.

Create connections

Gardening helps you create new and meaningful connections. When you garden you are also connecting with your community and with nature, with your family and with your own body

Still need more reasons to garden?
How about tomatoes? Fresh, delicious, vine ripened tomatoes. Need I say more?

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