The Benefits of Gardening
In this section you will find just some of the reasons why gardening is so beneficial.
Grow Your Own Produce
If you have your own veggie patch, your own orchard, your own flower garden, you can substantially reduce your food bill and you can grow your own flowers to brighten your home or give to friends rather than buying expensive bunches from florists. Even those living in apartments can grow a substantial harvest in containers.
Food fresh from your garden will always taste better than the stuff you get from the supermarket which has been picked when unripe and then ripened chemically. Tomatoes are a favourite home grown food because cold storage really kills the flavour so supermarket tomatoes can never compare to those grown at home. Even if you buy fresh produce from the local farmers market, home grown produce can still taste better because you can pick it the day you want to use it, at a time of day that maximises flavour. The flavour of many berries rapidly deteriorates after picking, meaning that they are best eaten within hours of picking and herbs are best harvested in the morning just after the dew has dried as this is when their essential oils are highest. Whilst farmers’ market produce is certainly better than that found in the supermarket, they still cannot compete with home grown produce.
And then there are the health benefits of growing your own food. It is more nutritious that supermarket food particularly if you grow heirloom varieties and again, harvesting food at the right time and using it straight away also greatly increases the nutritional content of food. You can also avoid the use of harmful pesticides which studies have shown time and again, leave residues in many foods.
Get Fit and Stay Healthy
Depending on how you garden, it can help get you fit and keep you that way. Digging can be hard work and pushing a wheelbarrow all around the garden can be a pretty good work out. Plus, no matter what your garden is like, you have to look after it regularly so gardening (with the exception of indoor gardening) encourages you to get outside, which means you get plenty of fresh air and it helps prevent vitamin D deficiencies.
Even those with limited mobility, such as the elderly or disabled, can improve or maintain their fitness by gardening and they can certainly still benefit from the fresh air and vitamin D. If you have limited mobility, there are a variety of raised garden products available that mean you don't have to bend when you garden. Pots can also be placed right outside your front or back door so they're never far away. You can also plan your garden so that you don't have to walk as far between different parts of the garden. For example, instead of putting your compost piles in an out of the way place, you can put them right next to the garden beds where the compost will be used. It's up to you how much or how little work you need to do in your garden.
De-stress and rejuvenate your mind
Most people who garden find it very therapeutic and studies have shown that it can significantly reduce stress levels and even help alleviate depression. Studies have also shown that just looking into a garden can allow you to focus more and thus be more productive.
You may have heard the saying "gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes." It really is true and who doesn't need a little bit of relaxation these days.
Get In Touch With Nature
By growing your own plants you can observe natural cycles: weather cycles, plant lifecycles and even insect lifecycles. It also means you're more in tune with what foods and flowers are in season and in season produce tastes better and lasts longer.
You Can Help the Environment
Planting any kind of plant in your garden, helps combat greenhouse gas emissions because plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Some plants, particularly those grown as indoor plants (that's right, you can have an inside garden too!), even help to further purify the air by removing chemicals that harmful to our health.
Supplementing your food and flower purchases with produce from your own garden means you're reducing the amount of food and flowers that needs to be transported from growers. Relying only on in season produce helps even more because you're eliminating the need to ship produce from interstate or even the other side of the country. This is of great benefit to the environment because it reduces emissions produced by the vehicles that transport the produce and it reduces consumption of fossil fuels.
If you garden organically, you can also help reduce the amount of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers being washed into our waterways. This reduces pollution and also helps protect sensitive organisms such as bees and ladybirds which can be killed by some of these harmful chemicals. Even larger animals can be harmed by some pesticides, they have even been linked to miscarriage in animals such as cows.
You Can Help to Maintain Biodiversity
The continued spread of cities into the country side has resulted in loss of habitat for many species. By planting a variety of plants in your garden, particularly native plants, you can provide food and shelter for birds, bees, frogs and other organisms that are battling or even endangered. You can also help preserve endangered plant species by planting them in your garden. Growing heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits and ornamentals also helps to preserve plant species that might and have in the past, been lost.
Gardening is Educational
Gardening can be educational to children and adults alike. You can teach your children about food and the environment and many other things. I remember a teacher once taking us into the school vegetable patch and getting us to build a circular garden bed - what a way to teach maths! And there is perhaps nothing so educational for a child as growing food from seed and then learning how to make it in to a tasty and nutritious meal.
Gardening is Fun
Most importantly though, no matter how you garden, is that it is fun! It can bring massive amounts of pleasure to people of all walks of life and ages no matter what you choose to grow. So get out there and give it a go!