7 Reasons To Garden

As much as I encourage my children to get their hands dirty, I almost never want to dirty my own hands. I don’t like the feel of grit under my fingernails. I don’t like to sweat profusely in the hot sun and cake layers of salt into my clothes. I don’t like having bugs crawl on me. I’m naturally a bit repelled by gardening. It seems like — WORK. I’ve read romantic essays about gardening that inspire me towards gardening greatness. I’ve devoured many a book on the subject. But when it boils right down to it, Gardening and I need to work at being friends. We wouldn’t naturally be bosom buddies.

Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or the boondocks, you may be like me — in need of a kick in the pants when it comes to gardening. If so, I’ve compiled 7 reasons to garden to provide said kick.

According to the 2011 Garden Trends Report, seed sales have gone up 30-50% this year over last. Vegetable gardening has gone up 19%. More people are choosing to garden, and more of those people are choosing to grow more food.

Here are seven reasons why:

1) It’s inexpensive! Depending on where you live and what gardening method you’re using, the initial setup costs can be anywhere between downright CHEAP and mildly expensive. That said, once you’ve got the garden, you’ve got the garden. All you’ve got to do year after year is maintain it and buy fresh seeds. If you collect your own seeds, even that can be FREE! This is thrifty, thrifty, thrifty. (And none of us is hurt by saving money, are we?)

2) It’s domestic! Home industry is inspiring, don’t you think? When I see all those mommy bloggers comparing notes on their latest do-it-yourself craft, sewing project, or cheesemaking success, I feel a mix of envy, inspiration, despair, and hope. If you garden, you can feel that empowering sense of well-applied home economics knowing that you’ve planted, nurtured, harvested, and prepared your own food.

3) It’s local! With Fritos and other big food companies abusing the term “local,” you and I know you can’t get more local than your own yard. The advantages of local food abound, but the two most valuable to me are transparency (I know where my food comes from and exactly how it was grown) and nutrition (fresh harvesting right before meals, coupled with the lack of refrigeration ensures maximum nutrient density).

4) It’s GREEN! Put simply, it’s environmentally-friendly. Rather than traveling the average of 1500 miles to your dinner plate, the food you grow yourself in your own garden travels a few yards. Carbon footprint? What carbon footprint? No petroleum fertilizers + no refrigerated trucks or transportation + no refrigerated retail display cases + no refrigeration at home = HAPPINESS.

5) It’s sustainable! Rather than taking away from the earth and depleting natural resources, a well-managed beyond-organic garden actually contributes to the earth. Compost your kitchen and yard scraps, maybe mix in a neighbor’s manure and a local coffee shop’s used grounds, and then wait a while. Before you know it, you’ve got the World’s Best Compost enriching your little plot of dirt, adding topsoil, and not requiring any strange, expensive, or foreign imports in order to maintain soil fertility.

6) It’s all-natural and organic! Ease your body’s toxic load. Keep the earth happy. Know what’s in your food. Don’t pay an arm and a leg for it. Grow it yourself and feel good about giving your toddler those strawberries.

7) It builds community! According to the 2011 Garden Trends Report, 37% of gardeners gain knowledge from their neighbors. You can too!

I am joining the hordes of urban homesteaders participating in this year’s Sowing Millions Project hosted by Seeds of Change. You can follow the project at Facebook and Twitter. And as your own garden begins to flourish, you can even share your favorite pictures in their virtual garden.

Check out the listings on my Resources page for gardening supplies, seeds, and more!

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I wrote this post while participating in the Sowing Millions Project by Real Food Media on behalf of Seeds of Change. As per my standard disclosures, you can bet that I received product and other goodies to facilitate this post (read: FREE SEEDS!). My thoughts and opinions are my own and not of those of Real Food Media or Seeds of Change.

(photo by MB Jarrosak)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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18 Responses to 7 Reasons To Garden
  1. Michaela Capello via Facebook
    May 25, 2011 | 8:34 pm

    I am happy to report I started gardening this pst february! I LOVE IT!

  2. Alice Sun via Facebook
    May 25, 2011 | 8:48 pm

    I started gardening because I needed somewhere to dump my compost. I’m happy to report everything I’ve planted has survived! Of course, the bugs are really eating away at the kale. I sprayed it with water+peppermint oil but they came back in a few days.

  3. Nancy Jacques via Facebook
    May 25, 2011 | 8:57 pm

    a good natural fertilizer from Bill Scheffler at Pure Prairie Farm:
    2T vinegar, 2T non sudsing ammonia, 2T molasses to 1 gallon filtered water. Weekly (I know Bill well – he reads Acres and is very into organic gardening)

  4. Lisa and Robb
    May 25, 2011 | 9:16 pm

    I have to ask, do you wear gardening gloves? All those old British Ladies knew a thing or three, and didn’t wear those gardening gloves for fashion.

    • KristenM
      May 25, 2011 | 9:34 pm

      I do wear gloves! Otherwise I’d have all that dirt under my nails.

  5. Carolyn Kennedy
    May 25, 2011 | 9:55 pm

    I hate (!!!) being out in the sun and bugs! But what kept me from gardening for a long time was my severe limitations after a spinal fusion- leaning forward & bending over are extremely difficult. But! this is the 2 nd year of veggie gardening! My sweet supportive and creative husband built me an above ground waist high garden bed! We also utilize those topys turvy and container planters. We started small and added more things as I saw I was able.

    We are looking at building a new bed by stacking landscape timbers and filling bed with dirt. Its a bit ugly (imo) but you cam even use stack cinder blocks! Just remember the secret to successful container gardening is water water water!!!

    Check out my blog & click “Watch Our Garden Grow” tab on right. If you want more ideas google “gardens/gardening for seniors”

  6. Carolyn Kennedy
    May 25, 2011 | 10:07 pm

    Oh I forgot to include that we also even have a tumbling composter we bought at Sam’s earlier this year. Great compost, no stirring! Don’t let physical limitations hold you back!

  7. Melissa @ Dyno-mom
    May 25, 2011 | 10:55 pm

    My husband and most of the kids love gardening but for me it’s not so much fun. I always try to remember that it is great excercise and more interesting that say, a treadmill. At least I feel productive. But thanks for the list, we need reminders, we who aren’t born gardeners.

  8. Donna Mae Travis via Facebook
    May 26, 2011 | 3:41 am

    Isn’t the use of vinegar toxic to plants? I know they are used to kill weeds. This is a new one for me. I am surprised to see this on here.

  9. Barb @ A Life in Balance
    May 26, 2011 | 4:09 am

    I absolutely love gardening! My dh and I have been gardening together ever since we met. We started with 5 or 6 raised beds in a postage stamp yard and a row home in West Philly. Now we have a quarter of an acre in Delaware County with a huge vegetable garden, 5 fruit trees, 6 fruit vines, and 10 fruit bushes. Even when I was pregnant with my 4 youngest, I would not cut back on gardening.

    Yes, it is a lot of work at times. However, there’s nothing like a fresh tomato or fresh lettuce. Yes, the bugs have been bad this year, and the kids are helping me bug hunt.

    As for the dirt under my nails, I do wear gloves as much as I can, and I keep my nails short. However, my nails do get dirty, and I do get the farmer tan, and I appreciate how much work goes into farming as I deal with my issues in my little microcosm.

  10. Wendi
    May 26, 2011 | 12:37 pm

    I feel the same way about gardening. I do it every year with the hope that I’ll see it through to the end of the summer. I hate the hot and bugs. I usually wave to my garden from inside my air conditioned house and wish it luck. But, I put one in every Spring. Hopefully this year will be different.

  11. Christine Fitzpatrick via Facebook
    May 26, 2011 | 2:18 pm

    Some plants can use more acidic soil dear.

  12. Hazel Moon
    May 26, 2011 | 4:55 pm

    Enjoyed this post on gardening. You might be interested in submitting this post next Tuesday 05-31-11 at: “Changing our World One Word at a Time” The word for this date is FARM and anything related to the farm is acceptable.
    The site is http://peterpollock.com/

  13. Dani
    May 26, 2011 | 6:35 pm

    Sorry you don’t love gardening–it’s downright therapeutic for me! I wear gloves when I have them handy, but I certainly do keep my nails shorter in the springtime when I’m really making mud pies (can’t plant seeds with gloves on). To add to the “transparency” reason, one thing most people don’t realize is how many fruits and veggies at the local grocer (and even some “farmers” markets) have been irradiated–not just the ones coming from outside of the country. Never mind that the fresher the produce the better nutritional value; irradiating destroys nutrients and also natural enzymes that help the body digest the food.

    Carolyn, I LOVE that you have found a way to garden! Your post reminds me to also add that if someone isn’t already gardening, it’s perfectly okay to start small–plant a tomato plant in a 5-gallon bucket, but do SOMETHING! You don’t have to have the acres of well-groomed garden to get started, but once you do start, you will gain a new appreciation for the taste of truly fresh produce, and a special appreciation for something that you raised and nurtured yourself. Didn’t start seeds this year? That’s okay, just go down to the local nursery (or Home Depot, or Walmart, or anywhere), and buy a starter. You can always do more next year, but start with something now.

  14. Kim Burks
    May 27, 2011 | 10:55 pm

    I just started my first set of seeds in little peat pots. I am so excited to see the little seedlings poking they’re leaves up out of the soil. Never done this before, but it feels great knowing I am doing something to change the food we eat. I bought four beef steak tomato plants and I can’t wait to eat my first real tomato that hasn’t been gassed or kept in cold storage and meely. I look forward to a little dirt under my nails.
    Happy Gardening to everyone.

  15. Taylor
    August 3, 2011 | 12:39 pm

    I often find that the reason I don’t want to do something dirtying or sweat-producing is because I am conscious of what I have to do AFTER the activity. This, of course, entails putting everything away, getting washed up and all that accompanies that process. If, however, I devote an entire day, or weekend to say, gardening, I can actually enjoy it. As a gardener myself, I’m glad there’s some favorable propaganda out here on the blogoshpere. Keep up the great articles!

  16. Sarah @ Your Healthy Home Biz
    June 19, 2012 | 12:30 pm

    I wear nail polish and garden fanatically with gloves and a hat. Over the years we’ve built up to close to 3000 square feet of garden plus an orchard (and pigs, chickens and goats). For me it’s more than just about food. I’ve written how it helps me grow my home business as a writer as well:

    http://www.yourhealthyhomebiz.com/why-garden-10-reasons-my-garden-helps-grow-my-home-business

    So glad to see all these new gardeners inspired by your work here. It’s a wonderful thing to do something so directly to nourish yourself and your family. Key is to start small and build on success. It can be frustrating when you take on too much too fast. Every little bit counts! Even a pot of herbs on the windowsill.

  17. Katherine
    April 30, 2013 | 6:05 pm

    I love playing in the dirt. I don’t wear gloves and I try to not wear shoes, though with the bees (we keep them) it isn’t always in my best interest to roll around like Shoeless Joe. My plan this year is to diversify. I have a bad habit of planting a foolish number of tomatoes and not enough of the other goodness.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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