I've posted a lot of photos of my garden (which I consider my "dream garden") on Facebook. It's pretty impressive (if I do say so myself) and people always want to know more. So I've put together a comprehensive series on gardening that I'm hoping will answer everyone's questions.
Our family devotes a lot of time to gardening. We always have. Afterall, gardening takes work. And quite often, it takes a lot of work. So the first question becomes, is gardening worth your time?
To me , the answer is a definite "Yes". But if you need some convincing, here are my top 10 reasons why gardening is worth your time.
1. Gardening Allows You to Enjoy Organic Food. There are so many pesticides used in the American food chain. And organic food can be rather expensive or difficult to find. By growing your own food, you can guarantee that you are keeping it healthy and pesticide-free.
2. Gardening Teaches Your Children Where Food Comes From. In today's culture, most children (let alone adults) do not understand how food is grown. They believe meat and eggs and vegetables and fruit come from the grocery store without any concept of what is involved to actually produce or grow the food. Connecting our children to where our food originates is an important part of giving them a healthy relationship to food.
3. Gardening Motivates Your Children to Enjoy Fresh Vegetables. Nothing tastes better than sun-warmed strawberries picked right from the garden. When your children are able to go straight to the garden and eat vegetables and herbs they pick themselves, the vegetables will naturally taste sweeter (because the sugars haven't converted to starch). Helping to grow the vegetables themselves will often (but not always) motivate even picky eaters to eat their vegetables.
4. Gardening Saves You Money. Building, seeding, and maintaining a garden does take some money. But it is a lot less than what it would cost you to buy all those vegetables - especially if you plant some expensive fruits like raspberries and blackberries.
5. Gardening Reduces Your Stress Level. I love to go out and weed the garden in the late evening or early morning when the sun isn't beating down on me. I set myself a certain section to do and I do it. I don't think of anything stressful, I usually let my mind wander or sing to myself. And when I'm done, there is a huge sense of satisfaction that comes from seeing a weed-free area.
I would caution you to know your limits when you garden. Most people create a garden that is too big for them to maintain. And then their garden becomes a source of stress. Don't let this happen to you. Start small. It is better to have a small, well-maintained garden, than a large one that is over-grown with weeds. You would be amazed at how much you can grow in a 4 foot by 4 foot square*.
6. Gardens Can Save You Time. Maintaining the garden does take time, but I save so much time over the summer in not having to run out to the grocery store. I can simply send the children out to the garden to harvest whatever I need to cook with.
7. Gardening Improves Your Health. We live in a stressful world where too many people are overweight, out of shape, and spend too much time indoors. Gardening gets you the benefit of being out-of-doors where you have access to lots of healthy sunshine. It also is a great form of exercise and helps you to get the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet.
8. Gardening Allows You to Share. If you know people who are struggling financially, sharing your garden produce is a great way to help them without injuring their pride. And even if they're not struggling financially, many people love to be blessed with fresh tomatoes or zucchini bread made with zucchini from your garden.
9. Gardening is Better for the Environment. You've heard the admonition that eating locally is better for the environment because it requires less energy than transporting vegetables across the country (or even globally). It is hard to eat more locally than getting your food out of your own backyard.
10. Gardening is Fun. There are many times that I enjoy working alone in the garden. But there are just as many times that the whole family works together. We sing songs, share stories, and have fun working side-by-side. And the children think it is so much fun to go out and harvest food like sunflower seeds themselves.
So those are just some of the reasons that I think gardening is worth your time. This is a 14 part series on gardening. Tune in tomorrow as I talk about how we decided where to locate our garden.