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)