When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there is nothing better than eating them straight from the garden. Fresh lettuce, a juicy tomato, a crisp cucumber; my mouth is watering already! But besides the great taste there are other advantages to having your own vegetable garden. According to Jocelyn Jones, owner of Generous Earth Gardens in Somerville MA, caring for your own food is good for the body and the mind.
As Nemo approaches New England it may feel like it’s too early to think about gardening. Let’s not forget that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early Spring this year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to give up hope on that just yet. So without further hesitation I invite you to read about the benefits outlined by Jocelyn and start thinking about what you’d like to plant this year.
Discourages Sedentary Lifestyle Habits
Tending a garden requires a fair amount of physical activity. In order to successfully take care of your plants, you need to make a commitment of strength and endurance. The magniﬁcent part about this is that you want to do it! You are working for the larger goal of being able to enjoy the food you are caring for. You look forward to working in your garden because you know that all the hard work and physical labor pays off in the end. You will happily see the results in a fresh summer salad: a bushel of bright zucchini and a ﬁrm rear end!
Improves Diet and Eating Habits
One of my favorite things to do during the cold, short days of winter, is peruse through the bright, glossy pages of a seed catalogue. I daydream of all the delicious varieties of herbs, vegetables and berries that will be planted and harvested in the Spring all the way through the Fall. Growing your own food encourages you to eat well; it allows you to make better, more nutritious choices. I cannot think of anything more delicious or healthy then a fresh strawberry or an heirloom tomato picked right off your own vine! The healthy things you grow will be the highlight of all your recipes, both in taste and color.
“The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the ﬁve senses.”- Hanna Rion
There is much to be said about spending time in the great outdoors. When you spend time outside you begin to notice the subtleties of your environment: the gentle breezes; sounds of wildlife; the scent of freshly cut grass; and the blossoming of bright ﬂowers in all their glory. When you are in your garden you are at peace. Stress can be drastically reduced when you take taking the time to appreciate the magniﬁcent world around you. Peacefully weeding between the carrots is a beautiful way to spend a stress-free Sunday afternoon.
You Know Exactly What You Are Eating
By planting your own seeds and tending to them using organic practices, you’ll know exactly what you are putting into your body; it is surprising how removed we are from where our food comes from and how it got there. By planting your own vegetable garden, you can watch as a tiny seed is planted, matures and is harvested. When your sauté your spinach or dice your tomatoes, you’ll know exactly what it took to produce them. One of the best parts of having your own vegetable garden, is that you are taking responsibility for what is nourishing your body and soul.
Encourages creative thinking
“ All gardening is landscaping painting” – William Kent
One of the most discreet but valuable advantages to having your own vegetable garden is that it encourages creative thinking. Designing and planning your garden allows you to think creatively about the best way your vegetables can grow. The classic example of happy, companion planting is the legendary “three sisters”- corn, pole beans, and either pumpkin or squash. This trio is a creative way to design a bed by using each plant to somehow support the other. Each of the sisters contributes something. For example, the corn provides a natural pole for the beans to climb, the beans add nitrogen and overall fertility to the soil, and the squash creates a living mulch and shades out emerging weeds. Together, the sisters provide a balanced diet from a single harvest? In designing, planning and planting your garden, you can use creative thinking skills that may otherwise go unused. Gardening encourages you to think about the world in a very elemental way. Planting and tending to a garden is like creating a vibrant expression of yourself, full of life and beauty.
Do you grow your own vegetables? If so, what is your favorite?