Benefits and How-To’s of Gardening
Considering a vegetable garden? There are so many benefits, that a lack of interest seems to be the only deterrent, and if reading this article, you already have the interest. It’s hard to find reasons not to try it!
Let’s look at some potential benefits:
- Mental: Gardening offers clarity of mind and can be a mood booster, reducing stress and lifting depression.
- Physical: Gardening provides exercise through the burning of calories, hence potential weight loss. Through exercise we see benefits to our health, such as lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia, and ultimately helping you to sleep better.
- Fresh produce: Regardless of whether choosing to grow your plants organically or not, eating the produce you grow will make it taste better. You control the “garden to table” freshness. If the vegetables are readily available, you will be more likely to eat them. If you are a parent, your children will also benefit.
- Increases your self-confidence: Eating the produce you grow gives you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Seeing a basket of beautiful produce grown through your efforts is very rewarding.
Let’s debunk the myths:
- Not enough space: There are many creative ways to raise an edible garden. Certain plants can go in between others even within the landscape. You can use a lot of creativity with container gardening.
- May get more produce than I desire: You can always freeze or can your produce. There are also many options of sharing produce with others such as through churches or community organizations.
- Gardening gets messy: If you do a little bit of weeding each day or a small section at a time, a smaller garden is very manageable.
My neighbors might not appreciate it: Commit to making your best efforts to keep the garden tidy, particularly in close quarters. Respect for neighbors can go a long way. A bit of weeding every time you go outside, regularly checking for insects, and fencing to keep from enticing predators to the neighborhood will help. Share produce with neighbors. Think through how to make a garden more neighbor-friendly if this is a concern. As a matter of fact, this gives you a social connection with other people – another benefit.
- I may not have the time when harvest time comes: If you are not sure about time to raise a garden, invest in your agricultural community. If you don’t mind spending a bit extra for the benefit of fresh, possibly organic produce, you can investigate purchasing a seasonal half share or share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s a viable way to support farming in your community.
- My HOA (Home Owners Association) may not allow it: If gardening is a priority for you, check out the gardening guidelines of the HOA before you purchase a home. The rules might vary from flexible to rigid. After you find out what is allowed, how and whether the rules are enforced, try to stay within the perimeters. Think outside the box. You can plant colorful and attractive plants such as kale, Swiss chard, or eggplant. There are herbs you can plant around the house. You can show creativity with container gardening. Mixing in beautiful flowers will also make your garden more attractive. Be friendly to your neighbors: building positive relationships can go a long way.
You may have the yard space to put your garden in the ground or build or buy a raised bed to keep your garden well contained, depending on your budget. You could also create a garden border with bricks, stones, or living plants, or use unique containers for your plants. These might be found inexpensively either through end of season or garage sales. Measure and mark your plot and then you can begin preparations. Once you have your garden frame, load with a good quality soil, plant, fertilize, water, and watch it grow. As the season progresses, you can plant vegetables that will grow into the fall, to extend your harvest. As the picture suggests, ornamental cabbage has eye appeal. Planting ornamental cabbage and ornamental kale for the winter will add yard appeal.
There are many benefits to gardening, physical, mental, and social. Attractive edible gardens are easy and possible with some research. You can find resources online to guide you. Happy gardening!