Updated: Nov 17, 2021
It seems like a no-brainer, but most people don't think about growing their own food and herbs until they have very limited options. It doesn't have to be that way! There's never been a better time for gardening in much of the country — unless you live in an area where you can't grow anything because the climate is too extreme or you aren't allowed to use your property for agriculture.
But the best reason to start gardening is that it makes food taste better, allows you to save money, and gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you grew your own food. There's nothing like vegetables fresh from your own garden. And growing herbs is a lot more fun than just buying them. Here are some of the main reasons why gardening is a good idea:
1. Gardening is about eating healthy!
According to the Worldwatch Institute, food made its first appearance in the human mind when a pre-historic man ran down some game and thought, "Hey, I could eat that!" But until it was cooked, he probably couldn't swallow it. And even after cooking became a regular practice, people still didn't have access to fresh fruits and vegetables of a variety that would be considered acceptable today. They'd have to make do with what the area around them grew and just deal with the fact it wouldn't be as good for them as what they could get in a supermarket.
That means that our ancestors did best on food that had been grown and prepared by someone else for hundreds of thousands of years. Today we know that this is no way to eat. The best way to get healthy food is to grow it yourself.
2. Gardening is about eating less processed foods!
Processed and packaged foods have become so prevalent that we tend to forget where they come from. But look at what you're actually eating: sugar, fat, sodium, preservatives, canned products made with high-fructose corn syrup, and other unnatural ingredients. The list goes on. The more we take away from real, unprocessed foods, the worse our health is going to be.
3. Gardening is about eating less sodium (and other unhealthy ingredients)!
You can benefit from this in two ways:
· Growing your own food allows you to grow what you like and keep out what you don't like. You can grow almost any vegetable you're likely to enjoy, but just because a vegetable is technically edible doesn't mean that it's good for you to eat it.
· Because plants are alive, they often will absorb whatever they're surrounded by. If you grow your own food, you'll have to be careful about selecting plants that don't have added fertilizers or pesticides in them.
4. Gardening is about eating real, nutritious grown foods
When you grow your own vegetables, you don't need to rely on chemical fertilizers or expensive pesticides. Instead, you can go with a natural fertilizing system that you can make yourself with five items: soil, grass clippings, straw, compost, and manure. Create a natural system and don't be afraid to take one from another creature if it can be used as fertilizer!
When growing your own food, your diet is more diverse and healthy, packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Food in its rawest, freshest form is not only the tastiest way to enjoy it but also the most nutritional. The majority of products sold in grocery stores go through a long process of being harvested, shipped, and distributed to stores. Once distributed, the produce can end up staying in storage or on the shelf for an extended period of time before being purchased, losing nutritional value.
5. We still don't have access to fresh food.
Even though we have amazing things like refrigeration and frozen foods, it's getting more and more difficult to find healthy fruits and vegetables that aren't loaded with pesticides.
6. When the economy tanks, you'll be glad to have your own garden.
If you live in an urban area, it's unlikely you'll be able to keep growing your own food during hard times, because you won't have access to land and you may not have the time or energy. But if things get bad enough that you do have such access, it would be a good idea for all of us to start growing our own food again!
7. Gardening is easy and fun!
What better way to spend with your family than growing your own nutritious and healthy food?!
Gardening can be more than just a chore — it can be a lot of fun. Growing your own food is invigorating, but you have to take care of it like anything else. You have to pay attention to and tend your garden well if you want it to grow well and give you healthy food. Growing your own food isn’t rocket science. “Growing food is very simple,” says Kathleen Frith, managing director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) at Harvard Medical School. “It takes a little time, but things like tomatoes, lettuce, peppers — basic kitchen crops — are very forgiving. Really, anyone can learn to grow food pretty easily.”
Having a garden gives you something to do in the summer, and it can be a great way to spend time with family at the end of a long day!
8. Gardening will help you learn about good food.
You can't just go out and buy any old produce. We need to know exactly where our food comes from, how it's grown, what goes into it, and if it's been genetically modified or been exposed to toxins like pesticides or artificial fertilizers.
9. Gardening is a great hobby that can lead to a career!
Most hobbies are just for fun, but gardening can be a real career — not just for gardeners and farmers but also for those who love to work with plants. You can go into horticulture, landscape design, food production, and even coding or web development.
If you're considering making your own herb garden on your deck or patio, this article will help you learn all you need to know.
10. Not only are most veggies full of pesticides, but they're also all genetically modified now.
If you haven't read Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma, you're missing one of the best arguments for growing your own food: Stop buying industrial food! The book examines the history of four different meals: industrial corn, industrial beef, industrial apple, and industrial potato.
Even if you're not necessarily into growing your own food, buy Pollan's book. It will make you think a lot more about what you're eating and where it's coming from.
11. We've forgotten how to cook for ourselves.
Think about how much we take for granted every time we turn on a stove, oven, or grocery store. Our grandparents and great-grandparents didn't have these things. They cooked on wood stoves, grew their own food, made everything from scratch, and were generally healthier for it. “Backyard gardening can inspire you to take an interest in the origins of your food and make better choices about what you put on your plate,” says Dr. Helen Delichatsios, an internist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “When you grow your own food, you savor it more because of the effort it took to get to the table.”
12. You'll learn a lot about patience.
Growing your own food and cooking with it takes time. You don't just plant some seeds in the ground, stick something in the microwave, and sit back and wait for the beep. Be patient as you cultivate your relationship with your garden and the Earth. Before long, you’ll reap the benefits. You may even see a little tinge of green on those thumbs.
13. You can save a lot of money.
You can spend $3.75 on a head of lettuce at your local grocery store in the summer, or you can grow your own lettuce for free. The same is true of carrots, tomatoes, and all sorts of vegetables.
14. You get to eat what you grow!
If you grow fresh herbs, you can preserve them and use them throughout the year. You'll get fresh chives and dill every week from the same plants you're growing. And it will taste better than what is in a jar!
15. You'll enjoy your work.
Every time I harvest something fresh from the garden, I get such a thrill that it makes everything else I do seem like child's play!
So, if you're interested in growing your own food, here are some things to consider:
· Begin with just a vegetable garden — if you want to eat fruits and vegetables at all this year, you're going to have to plant some crops.
· Figure out what you want to grow and how much space you have in your yard or balcony.
· Don't plant too early or too late. The warm months are best for planting, but the soil heats much more quickly this time of year, so keep that in mind!
· Most vegetables need full sun and a slight slope, and most are better-started seedlings than transplants.
· Plant as close as you can to the ground if possible, but keep in mind that plants will drop leaves from stress during hot weather.
· You'll want to water a bit more often than you would if you were simply planting an area of grass.
· Bee balm and some other edible plants can be invasive, so if you have the choice, choose ones that will spread slowly.
Some other tips for growing your own backyard garden by Kathleen Frith, the managing director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) at Harvard Medical School, are:
Start small and plant things you’d really like to eat.
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.
With these things in mind, you'll be on your way to growing your own food in no time! What are your thoughts about having a garden? Do you grow your own food? What do you love about it?
If you are thinking about growing your own home garden, learn more about creating the best organic potting soil for your vegetables.