Benefits of organic gardening

Contents

How to Grow an Organic Garden

How to Grow Your Backyard Organic Garden

Overall, the goal is create a sustainable, earth-friendly ecosystem that plays host to rich soil, a diverse mix of plants, and loads of both pollinators and “good” predators. Follow these steps for planting success:

  1. Choose a site with good light. To grow to its full potential (literally!), your backyard organic vegetable garden needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day. Short on space? No big deal. Simply find a sunny spot for a container or two on your doorstep or deck.
  2. Use stellar soil. It saves a lot of headaches and backaches to garden in soil that looks and feels like brownie mix instead of bricks. For just the right balance of texture and nutrients, use premium-quality Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose In-Ground Soil (for in-ground growing) or Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Container Mix (for potted plants)—both enriched with aged compost—or a 50-50 mixture of the two for raised beds. Best of all, growing in either of these mediums will give you up to twice the harvest vs. unfed plants!
  3. Plant wisely. Set your garden well along the way to maturity by starting with strong, vibrant young plants from Bonnie® Organics. Or, if you’d rather sprout your own seeds, be sure to look for packets labeled USDA Organic. Either way, choose plants that grow well together, including a mix of hybrid and heirloom varieties that have some inherent disease-resistant characteristics (check the labels). Also, if you’ve grown a garden before, switch up where you plant different plant types (a practice called crop rotation) to help thwart pests and diseases.
  4. Water well. Since moisture is essential for good growth, be sure to plan for watering from the very start, since most organic gardens require at least an inch of water per week (and even more when it’s hot outside). Easy access to spigots and rain barrels is key to avoid lugging heavy watering cans and dragging hoses around. Even easier is to “set it and forget it” by using drip irrigation tubing (the Gro™ Potted Drip Kit is a great choice for containers) connected to a timer. Be sure to water right after you plant, too!
  5. Serve nutritious “meals.” Plants constantly pull nutrients from the soil, so it’s your job to replenish them throughout the growing season so your organic garden doesn’t go hungry and start to produce less than its best. To that end, a month after planting, start giving your garden regular helpings of Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition (check the label to find out how much and how often to feed). Enhanced with micronutrients, it instantly feeds the soil so your plants will have a steady stream of nutrition for their best growth.

How to Plant Your First Organic Garden

Do you want to grow your own food, but don’t know where to begin? It can be overwhelming, so here are some simple instructions to grow easy vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

Gardening is not linear. These steps overlap, and there are several ways to do most of them, but once you get the main ideas, you can explore variations later. Read up on organic gardening basics.

Want to learn more about organic gardening?

Start Small

Don’t get bogged down and frustrated with a big garden your first year. If you start with a small space, it will be well tended and productive, inspiring you to expand next year and for many years to come.

Decide how much time you have to devote to your garden. Are you a weekend gardener? Will you be taking a vacation? Do you spend a lot of time at kids’ activities? A garden needs attention. Plants don’t wait for you to be free.

Grow what you eat!

Next, make a list of what your household eats. Order a lot of seed catalogs. They not only will inspire you, but they are also a wealth of growing, harvesting, and cooking information.

Easy Plants

These are some of the easiest crops for beginners. I’m including a diagram for you to plant a 4’x8’ bed with them.

Cool Weather:

  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Radishes

Warm Weather:

  • Green Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Marigolds
  • Sunflowers

Here are more easy plants for beginners.

Cool weather crops are best planted in spring. Warm weather crops need nights above 50º to do well, and will be killed by frost in spring or fall. Because these plants have different temperature requirements, you will not be planting the entire garden at once.

Seeds vs. Transplants

Plan on buying nursery starts (transplants) for Lettuce, Spinach, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Basil, and Marigolds. Buy seed for the other plants. You will direct seed them. They don’t like being transplanted.

Planning the Space

Now plan the garden space. Find a sunny spot with good drainage. Vegetables need 6-8 hours of full sun a day, but they don’t mind a little afternoon shade to protect them from the heat.

Choose a spot near the house. If you can see the garden from inside, you’ll be reminded to tend it. Out of sight, out of mind! Place it near a spigot to simplify watering.

Mark out a 4’x8’ bed with the long side running on an east-west axis for best sunlight. Remove the sod (or whatever your groundcover is). You can also build a raised bed.

Know Your Dirt

Get a soil test done to determine your pH, nutrients that are present, and nutrients that need to be added. Contact your Cooperative Extension office for a test, instructions to take soil samples, and info on how to read the results. You will get recommendations for soil amendments that are not organic, but you can ask your Extension agent to convert them for you. Here is a primer on organic fertilizers, and if you are a real DIYer, you’ll find this page on conversions interesting.

High quality compost with well-balanced macro- and micro-nutrients might be all you need. But compost is also good for drainage, water retention, and air circulation, and it provides habitat for earthbound critters, such as worms.

While you wait for your soil test results, till or use a flat tined pitchfork to turn over the soil in your new garden to a depth of 12-18”. First, be sure it’s not too wet. You can ruin the soil by working it before it dries out. Take a handful, and make it into a ball. If it sticks together, it’s too wet. If you touch it lightly, and it falls apart, it’s dry enough to work. Be patient!

Liberally add good compost, and turn the bed again. Add the amendments recommended in your soil test, and turn it again. Rake it to a level surface removing rocks and clods of dirt.

Planting and Irrigation

Follow the directions on the seed packets for direct seeded crops. They will tell you how deep to plant and how much space to give the mature plants. Transplants should not be placed in the soil deeper than the soil in the pot. The exception is tomatoes, which can have the whole stem buried up to the top leaves. Put up trellising along the north side for peas.

First plant seeds of Peas, Carrots, Spinach, Lettuce, and Radishes. (See diagram above)

Water in your new plantings, but do not flood them. Watering is a slow process. Add a bit, and let it soak in. Add more, and let it soak in again. When water starts to puddle on top of the soil, you’re done. Top the bed with 3-4” of mulch. Water your seeds every day until they germinate.

Vegetables need 1” of water a week. You may get that much with normal rainfall, but be prepared with a way to water if it’s a dry summer. For a small space, you can hand water. If you are a weekend gardener, install drip irrigation before you add mulch, and put it on a timer.

When the nights are warm, plant your starts of Tomatoes, Basil, Zucchini, Marigolds, and Zucchini, and seeds of Sunflower and Bush Beans. The Peas will be done soon, and you will pull them out, so don’t worry about crowding the Tomatoes next to them. Buy indeterminate varieties of Tomatoes, and use the trellis to support them. Water every day until seeds sprout, and until you see new growth on your starts.

Ta da! Congratulations! You just planted your first garden! To get through the summer months of garden maintenance, read books and magazines (and follow them on social media), find local gardening groups online and in real time, and get involved with your local garden club. Shop at a reputable nursery, and ask questions!

I highly recommend Mother Earth News, Heirloom Gardener, and Rodale’s Organic Life magazines. Also, Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening is a comprehensive reference book, but written simply for anyone to understand.

But the best way to learn is by doing. And making mistakes. Keep a garden journal. Note what worked, what didn’t, what you loved, what you didn’t love, the weather, varieties you planted, how long to flower and harvest, bugs, disease, harvest dates and yields, recipes, and anything else! Use this info to make a garden plan for next year.

Here’s to a successful growing season! I hope you get bitten by the gardening bug.

How to grow vegetables and herbs the organic way

To prepare your organic growing area – whether it is a pot, single bed or a large allotment – see Managing your soil and Home composting. It will help you to create the perfect soil – that has nutrients and texture to provide life for your plants.

The best place to start is The Principles of Organic Gardening. These explain the thought behind organic growing. Designed with a helpful traffic light system, they help you on your organic growing journey – whether you are a complete beginner, or want to convert to organic, or be reminded of good organic practice.

It’s wise to plan your planting – making a note of what veg will grow where. This means you can keep yourself in vegetables all year round, as well as rotating where you plant your crops from year to year, to avoid disease and to maximise your soil’s fertility.

Our How to Grow cards cover a selection of vegetables, fruit and herbs – from artichokes to apples and turnips and thyme. See also weed management, and how to cope with pests and diseases the organic way.

Preparing your organic growing area

Your first battle might be with weeds. These compete with other plants for light, nutrition and water, so you need to clear them before you start growing. If your plot is small, you can dig the weeds out, making sure you remove the whole plant, plus root.

However, if your growing area is large, don’t try clear it all before planting. Hours of digging will only lead to back ache and the depressing sight of weeds returning. And if you resort to a blast of weed killer (glyphosate formulations), you are using toxic chemicals on the very area you want to grow your healthy fruit and veg.

Instead, divide the plot in half. Dig one half, in the other you will feed the soil by using a thick organic mulch that covers the soil to exclude light. Here’s how:

1 For the mulched half, cut down the larger weed foliage to just above soil level using a satisfying slash technique (you can use much of the foliage on your new compost heap, so long as there are no seeds). Then cover the area with a mulch that will exclude light. You can use a variety of materials to do this – a layer of compost or well rotted manure is ideal, recommended 1 wheelbarrow full per 5 sqm, topped by cardboard (weighed down by bricks or another thin layer of compost so it doesn’t blow away), or a black plastic membrane, also pinned down. (Don’t use carpet – many of the dyes have toxic chemicals that can leach into your precious soil.)

Leave this for at least 6 – 12 months. It’s that simple. You don’t have to do a thing, as the weeds will weaken in the dark and the earthworms do their work to enrich the soil.

2 Now dig the area where you want to start growing. Take out tough and woody weeds like docks, thistles, nettles and brambles, removing all the roots. Put the foliage on the compost heap, drown the roots in a bucket of water for a couple of months – then add to the compost heap. See FAQs for how to deal with bindweed or brambles.

Then add compost or manure – one big wheelbarrow, or 5 large buckets, for every 5 square metres of ground. Dig this compost into the top 10 cms of soil, and your bed is ready for planting. If you want to sow seeds, use a rake to break down and gently flatten the topsoil into a fine texture (known as tilth) so the seeds can access soil and water to germinate.

If you are growing in containers, prepare your organic growing medium according to the plants you plan to grow. See Container growing and our helpful page on Garden Compost or Potting Compost?

Now you are ready to grow!

The following pages will help you get started, to care for your soil, to manage your allotment, to make your own compost and feeds, manage your weeds, deal with pests and diseases, save your seeds and harvest your crops. All done the organic way – saving money and the environment. We hope you enjoy the organic way. Not only are you safe from chemicals, but you are encouraging a healthy life for you, the plants and the planet.

The Benefits of Growing Your Own Food

Growing fruits and vegetables seems overwhelming to most people, but it’s actually much simpler than it sounds. (Plus, you don’t have to trade in your suburban or urban lifestyle in the name of self-sufficiency or savings.) All you need is a few square feet of the great outdoors, a water source, and a little time.
Consider these benefits of backyard gardening:

Improve your family’s health.

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you and your family can do to stay healthy. When they’re growing in your backyard, you won’t be able to resist them, and their vitamin content will be at their highest levels as you bite into them straight from the garden. Parents, take note: A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that preschool children who were almost always served homegrown produce were more than twice as likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day—and to like them more—than kids who rarely or never ate homegrown produce.

Save money on groceries.

Your grocery bill will shrink as you begin to stock your pantry with fresh produce from your backyard. A packet of seeds can cost less than a dollar, and if you buy heirloom, non-hybrid species, you can save the seeds from the best producers, dry them and use them next year. If you learn to dry, can or otherwise preserve your summer or fall harvest, you’ll be able to feed yourself even when the growing season is over.

Reduce your environmental impact.

Backyard gardening helps the planet in many ways. If you grow your food organically, without pesticides and herbicides, you’ll spare the earth the burden of unnecessary air and water pollution, for example. You’ll also reduce the use of fossil fuels and the resulting pollution that comes from the transport of fresh produce from all over the world (in planes and refrigerated trucks) to your supermarket.

Get outdoor exercise.

Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting add purposeful physical activity to your day. If you have kids, they can join in, too. Be sure to lift heavy objects properly, and to stretch your tight muscles before and after strenuous activity. Gardening is also a way to relax, de-stress, center your mind and get fresh air and sunshine.

Enjoy better-tasting food.

Fresh food is the best food! How long has the food on your supermarket shelf been there? How long did it travel from the farm to your table? Comparing the flavor of a homegrown tomato with the taste of a store-bought one is like comparing apples to wallpaper paste. If it tastes better, you’ll be more likely to eat the healthy, fresh produce that you know your body needs.

Build a sense of pride.

Watching a seed blossom under your care to become food on your and your family’s plates is gratifying. Growing your own food is one of the most purposeful and important things a human can do—it’s work that directly helps you thrive, nourish your family and maintain your health. Caring for your plants and waiting as they blossom and “fruit” before your eyes is an amazing sense of accomplishment.

Stop worrying about food safety.

With recalls on peanut butter, spinach, tomatoes and more, many people are concerned about food safety in our global food marketplace. When you responsibly grow your own food, you don’t have to worry about contamination that may occur at the farm, manufacturing plant or transportation process. This means that when the whole world is avoiding tomatoes, for example, you don’t have to go without—you can trust that your food is safe and healthy to eat.

Reduce food waste.

Americans throw away about $600 worth of food each year! It’s a lot easier to toss a moldy orange that you paid $0.50 for than a perfect red pepper that you patiently watched ripen over the course of several weeks. When it’s “yours,” you will be less likely to take it for granted and more likely to eat it (or preserve it) before it goes to waste.
Even if you don’t have a big backyard—or any yard for that matter—you can still grow food. Consider container gardening if you have a sunny balcony or patio or an indoor herb garden on a windowsill. You’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers can grow out of one pot. Or find out if your city has a community garden, where you can tend to your very own plot. Check out www.CommunityGarden.org to locate a community garden near you.
Whatever your motivation for breaking ground on your own backyard garden, chances are good that you’ll take pleasure in this new healthy hobby, and that your wallet, the environment, your body and your taste buds will thank you.

Get out your gardening tools and stock up on seeds. Growing your own food provides fresh ingredients for your meals, but you’ll soon see other benefits of home gardens that you may not have expected. Here are six ways to make the most of growing your own vegetables:

1. Control your crops

Growing your own produce lets you control what ends up on your family’s table. You decide what fertilizer, water and pest control to use, as well as whether to grow organic. Be sure to do research on the following:

  • Your hardiness zone
  • Plant water needs
  • Plant sunlight needs
  • Fertilizer safety and types
  • Pest and weed control options

2. Live the ‘fresh is best’ lifestyle

Nothing beats flavor-and-nutrient-packed power of fresh-picked fruits and vegetables. Once harvested, produce begins to lose moisture and nutrients. At the grocery store, the freshness of your vegetables is largely out of your control. But when you’ve grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can know exactly when they’ve been picked and how fresh they are.

3. Make your yard inviting

A vegetable and fruit garden can add life, color and beauty to your backyard. The smell of ripening strawberries and the sight of crisp cucumbers are a warm invitation to people and pollinators alike. Plants that sport beautiful flowers to encourage pollination—like beans, peas and fruit trees—can really make a splash in your backyard. Plus, the insects they attract will likely pollinate other plants as well, making your whole garden grow faster.

When you decide where to put your garden, keep in mind what plants may need. Do plants need a lot of sun or a lot of shade—or a little of both? Depends on what you’re growing. Read the tag that comes with the plant or look it up in a gardening guide. Give plants the right amount of sun exposure they need to thrive. Also be careful not to place plants too close together. Follow the spacing instructions to allow plants room to flourish fully.

4. Cut down on your grocery budget

One of the biggest advantages of growing your own food is that it can save you money. The price of a pack of seeds is almost equivalent to what you would pay for a single vegetable or fruit at the store. It may even cost less when you factor in the money spent on the gas used to drive to the supermarket. Plus, you can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of what they retail for in store. When taking food costs into consideration, gardening can become an appealing option to cut back on your grocery bill.

5. Make gardening a family hobby

Gardening is a fun, family-friendly activity that allows kids to get their hands dirty and learn where their food comes from. From planting seedlings to building salads together, starting a vegetable garden is a great way to get your family off the couch and onto their feet.

6. Make your health a priority

There’s one important nutrient gardening can give you before you even take a bite of your produce: vitamin D. The sun’s rays promote vitamin D production, which is vital to our health. Tending a backyard garden for about 30 minutes daily can promote better sleep and positive energy. Just remember the sunscreen.

Now that you see the benefits of starting a vegetable and fruit garden, learn how to plant one in 10 simple steps.

What Are the Environmental Benefits of Growing Your Own Food?

Each year when Earth Day and Arbor Day come around, going green in our everyday lives suddenly becomes the hot topic, especially in Denver, Colorado, where we’re constantly surrounded by beautiful nature. One impactful and fun way that you can reduce your carbon footprint is by growing your own food. As a pest control company in Denver, we are proud to provide healthy and safe alternatives for treating bugs and pests without using harmful chemicals on your plants so that growing your own vegetable garden can be done worry-free. Check out these environmental benefits of growing your own food right from your own backyard and how you can “Go Green” by avoiding conventional methods of consuming food!

Reducing Carbon Emissions and Waste

Growing your own food allows you to stop relying solely on traditional methods of purchasing your produce from a grocery store. When you buy foods from these shops, you should take into consideration the sad, but true, fact that these foods travel an average of 1,500+ miles before ever being consumed. Not only does this impact the freshness and flavor of the food, but more importantly, this emits dangerous amounts of carbon emissions and waste associated with air freight and other transportation methods into the atmosphere.

By growing your own food, you are helping to reduce the high amounts of burning fossil fuels that fill our environment as a direct result of importing foods from commercial farmers. You also are reducing waste from food packaging materials such as man-made plastics and cardboard, that also travel hundreds and thousands of miles.

Avoid Carcinogenic Pesticides and Fertilizers

By growing your own food, you’ll get peace of mind knowing what you are eating and what has gone into producing that item. Not only does commercial farming emit harmful chemicals into the air as mentioned above, but it also pours harmful chemicals into our soil and water. Conventional farming utilizes an extreme amount of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to grow their commercialized crops, filling our earth and the foods that we are consuming with harmful chemicals, some that have even been proven to cause cancer and other diseases.

By growing your own garden, you are the one to decide what goes on your plants and into your soil, allowing you to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals polluting our environment and waterways. Organically growing your own food is sustainable and nourishes your soil by using safe and natural fertilizers and products.

Other Benefits

Growing your own food, especially for the first time, opens up a great learning opportunity. In order to help your crops flourish, you have the chance to learn about the weather and other environmental factors that may not have been relevant for you to be aware of before. This can also be a fun, family task to take on to make an environmental impact together and to teach your children the importance of going green.

Show Your Environment Some Love

This Earth Day, take a step towards “Going Green” in your home and give growing some of your own food a try. Keep our air, water, and soil clean by helping to reduce the demands put on our land every day by commercial agriculture. Make a positive impact on our environment today!

The Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

There is no comparison between the taste of a garden fresh tomato and a grocery store bought one that’s devoid of flavor. The nature of the American food system is that grocery store produce has often been grown hundreds of miles away, meaning it can be days between harvest and your table. This process results in the quality of the produce often being compromised.

Though growing your own vegetables can seem overwhelming to some, it’s actually much simpler than it sounds. Even if you don’t have a yard, consider starting a patio garden or even an indoor herb garden on a windowsill. You’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes or peppers you can grow out of one pot!

If you still aren’t convinced, consider these benefits of backyard gardening:

  • Improve your health. Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. When you pick vegetables right from your garden, the vitamin content will be at its highest. Also, you are reducing the risk of eating vegetables that contain harmful chemicals–you know exactly what you’re eating. In addition, getting kids involved in the gardening process will make it more likely for them to try the vegetables.
  • Save money on groceries. One of the benefits of enjoying garden vegetables is a reduced monthly food bill. You can grow organic vegetables for a fraction of the cost in the stores.
  • Get outdoor exercise. Gardening is a physical activity and pulling weeds, planting, and digging can burn up to 400 calories per hour. Gardening is also a good mental exercise and helps keep your mind sharp.
  • Gardening is a natural stress reliever. Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine can improve mood and make you feel rejuvenated and overall happy. Growing your own produce also gives you a great sense of accomplishment.

Check out the links below for great tips on how to start your own home vegetable garden. Your body, wallet, and taste buds will thank you!

Grow Your Own: A Vegetable Garden How-To Guide A Beginner’s Guide to Fruit and Vegetable Gardening

— Laura Quinn RDN, CDN Sodexo Dietitian at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

photo credit: One is ready via photopin (license)

Gardening isn’t just about making your house look good (although a little curb appeal certainly never hurts). Caring for plants can also do wonders for your own wellbeing, an abundance of scientific research suggests. The physical exercise can contribute to a healthy weight and blood pressure levels, and just interacting with flora can improve your mood and mental health.

“Nature has a huge impact on health and wellness,” says Gwenn Fried, manager of Horticulture Therapy at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation. “We know that people’s cortisol levels go down in a calm, green environment.”

Roll up your sleeves and get digging, planting, and weeding this spring and summer. Here’s how tending to your garden beds will benefit you in the long run:

1. Gardening burns a lot of calories.

Good news for those who already spend hours planting perennials: Gardening is considered moderate-intensity exercise. You can burn about 330 calories doing one hour of light gardening and yard work — more than walking at a moderate pace for the same amount of time — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Men and women who participated in a community gardening program also had significantly lower BMIs (body mass indexes) than their otherwise similar neighbors, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

2. It can lower your blood pressure.

Just 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity most days of the week can prevent and control high blood pressure. In fact, The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends gardening or raking leaves for 30-45 minutes as examples of how to hit that recommended amount.

Paul BradburyGetty Images

3. Spending time outside is good for your bones.

When you’re outdoors and your skin is exposed to the sun, it prompts your body to make vitamin D. This vitamin — also found in fish and fortified foods like milk — helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral essential for bone formation, according to the National Institutes of Health. (FYI: You should still apply sunscreen if you’re planning on spending more than a few minutes in the sun to lower your risk of skin cancer.)

4. Growing your own food can help you eat healthier.

Besides the physical exercise you’ll get tending to a vegetable garden, a productive plot can also promote a better diet by supplying fresh, healthy produce. The Dietary Guidelines recommends eating at least 2 cups of vegetables and 1½ cups of fruits per day to get necessary nutrients and reduce risk of chronic disease. However, only 1 in 10 Americans adults meet those recommendations, according to the CDC.

Gardening helps people develop a lasting habit of eating enough fruits and vegetables though, according to 2016 research from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. This may work not only by providing fresh veggies but also making it more likely for children to try foods they may not have eaten before, research from the American Society for Horticultural Science theorizes.

Hero ImagesGetty Images

4. Gardening can relieve stress.

Gardening is positively correlated with a reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms, according to a 2017 meta-analysis in Preventive Medicine Reports that looked at 22 different case studies.

In fact, some hospitals even use planting and flower arranging as a type of rehabilitation for people recovering from injuries, strokes, surgeries, and other conditions. NYU Langone’s horticultural therapy program helps patients rebuild both their physical and mental health, Fried says.

Not only does it give people control over a situation when they might feel helpless, but it also teaches them a new skill that can restore confidence. “They don’t really see a value in themselves because how they define themselves has changed, but being be able to take care of something is a good place to start,” she says.

These benefits can extend outside of a healthcare setting too. “People are so busy — there’s so much stress now with electronic media all over the place,” Fried says. “People need respite and nature provides respite.”

6. It can provide a source of community.

You don’t have to weed alone – nor should you. People who worked in allotment gardens had significantly better self-esteem, total mood disturbance, and general health compared to those who did not garden, according to a 2016 study published in Journal of Public Health. Even better, it’s something almost anyone can partake in. Fried runs a horticultural therapy group for Alzheimer’s patients as activity for them do with their caretakers and families.

Ariel SkelleyGetty Images

7. Gardening can make you happier.

The act of growing plants may also help boost your mood. The 2017 meta-analysis also linked gardening with increases in quality of life and reductions in mood disturbance. This may have something to do with how it changes your outlook.

“The thing about gardening is that you have to have faith in the future,” Fried says. “Growing something green, something real, something alive, is a hopeful thing to do.”

Don’t know where to start? Get our gardening guides for the best crops you can plant in your plot:

How to Grow …

Herbs

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Sweet Potatoes

LEARN MORE

Tomatoes

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Cucumbers

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Broccoli

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Eggplants

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Kale

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Peppers

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Asparagus

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Beets

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Caroline Picard Health Editor Caroline is the Health Editor at GoodHousekeeping.com covering nutrition, fitness, wellness, and other lifestyle news.

Help Save the Environment!

Last Updated on December 11, 2019 by admin

Take a couple of minutes to learn how you can do your part to build a healthier planet! Gardening is good for the environment for several extraordinary reasons!

1. Collective Effort

Planting your own garden may make you wonder how much of a difference you are actually making. The thing is, gardening is a collective effort! Many small gardens in a community can make a huge difference. In fact, research in the UK found that personal gardens compose over 25% of the trees in non-forest environments! This is your chance to do your part!

Build a small garden in your backyard! (Via: Kiet Callies)

Gardening on a small scale will also influence the greater scheme of things for several different reasons. Think about this, commercial production of fruits and vegetables produce unforeseen amounts of pollution as a byproduct of harmful chemicals and pesticides that are used during the harvest process. Also, fewer trucks on the road transporting groceries mean less air pollution and fewer big rigs on the roads! All of this requires a commitment on an individual level!

2. Organic Gardening

Organic Harvest! (Via: Flicker)

It is important to understand that the Earth’s natural ecosystem has been designed to sustain itself without the interaction of humans! Have you ever looked in awe at a natural landscape full of birds, bees, trees, flowers, and beautiful plant life? Guess what; it didn’t make fertilizer, pesticides, and slug repellent to enrich this environment!

Creating a compost pile is a great way to enrich the soil and reduce the size of those menacing landfills! Compost is filled with recycled garden waste and puts valuable nutrients back into the soil without the need for man-made chemicals. Landfills have detrimental impacts on the soil that it is directly located on but also create a nuisance to surrounding areas. Just think of that smell! Yuck! So remember, less fertilizer and more organic ingredients make the world a better place!

If you’re sitting there wondering how to even start a compost pile, we’ve got you covered. The easiest thing to do is to start with a compost bin and see how that goes for you. Here are a quick few steps to get you started:

  • Choose the correct bin. Your local gardening store should have some available for a reasonable price. If you want to go a different route, you can always make your own or even repurpose an old trash can.
  • Put the bin somewhere that’s close to your home. You want easy access if you plan on using it during inclement weather. Running through the rain to get to your compost bin is not a fun job!
  • Next, layer brown and green materials in 2″-4″ thick layers. Brown material is dead leaves, twigs, etc. while green material is fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, etc. If you’d like a full list of things you can compost, check out this helpful article!
  • If needed, add moisture to your bin. To properly decompose, your bin needs to be a little wet. Not soaking, but similar to a wrung-out sponge.
  • Finally, it’s best to turn your bin at least once a week. This allows it to decompose faster.

The Process of Photosynthesis (Via: Wikipedia)

3. Global Warming

Global warming, the end-all and topic of countless conspiracy theories! Here are the basics of global warming.

• C02 is a greenhouse gas that helps to trap heat from the sun on the Earth. Too much C02 can be a bad thing.
• Global warming is caused by too many greenhouse gases, making it difficult for the Earth to cool naturally.

In the natural process of photosynthesis, plants take in C02 and release valuable oxygen molecules. There is a good chance that we all learned this back in grade school! Should have been listening! By investing time in your own garden, you can effectively help the collective effort to reduce the amount of C02 in the Earth’s atmosphere! A concerted effort in areas known to contain high levels of air pollution and smog can definitely benefit from this!

4. Wildlife Preservation

Beautiful bird in the wild. (Via: @Doug88888)

With a constantly growing global population, it can be easy to forget about the natural environments that we impact when we alter the planet. The Earth is composed of small inter-dependent ecosystems. Growing a garden can create habitats for smaller life forms like birds, insects, aphids, ants and other species that thrive and reproduce in the ecosystem. Each creature plays an important role in helping the environment!

As mentioned previously, slug repellent can kill slugs and effectively keep them from eating your leaves! But wait! Slugs and other bugs are necessary for the ecosystem and serve their own particular role! If we remove these smaller creatures from the ecosystem, it could create negative implications for animals higher up in the food chain! That is why it is important to preserve wildlife, keep the Earth healthy, and practice organic gardening!

Additional Recommendations

Here are a couple of other actions you can take to help make the Earth healthier!

• Use non-toxic fertilizers and pesticides with no harmful chemicals. Organic manure will provide your plants with all the necessary nutrients to grow without the dangerous chemicals used in traditional synthetic products!
• Use a cordless electric lawnmower instead of a gasoline-powered mower. Similar to hybrid vehicles, going electric reduces emissions pollution!
• Keep your garden wholesome and get rid of slugs by placing eggshells around the perimeter. Slugs cannot walk over these, creating an all-natural and organic solution to your problem. Best of all, eggshells are beneficial for the soil and add calcium!

To learn more about the benefits of gardening, check out this post to see How Gardening Can Save Your Life.

When it comes to gardening, I am all thumbs, and not the green kind. But a new book from First Lady Michelle Obama is inspiring me to try my hand (thumbs and all) at backyard vegetable gardening. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America details the challenges and joys the First Lady has experienced with her now-famous White House garden. It also looks at community gardens all across America, and how they can improve health.

The book contains helpful hints for starting your own vegetable garden, as well as a school or community garden. Along with the how-to information about seed spacing, irrigation, soil types, and the right time to plant various vegetables, American Grown also discusses Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative. How does that fit into a book on gardening? In addition to getting more physical activity, so the thinking goes, eating more food harvested from the ground and less from packages can help kids — and adults — become healthy or stay that way.

“Backyard gardening can inspire you to take an interest in the origins of your food and make better choices about what you put on your plate,” says Dr. Helen Delichatsios, an internist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “When you grow your own food, you savor it more because of the effort it took to get to the table.”

Growing your own food has many health benefits:

  • It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • You decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides come in contact with your food.
  • It lets you control when to harvest your food. Vegetables that ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early.

Growing your own food isn’t rocket science. “Growing food is very simple,” says Kathleen Frith, managing director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment (CHGE) at Harvard Medical School. “It takes a little time, but things like tomatoes, lettuce, peppers — basic kitchen crops — are very forgiving. Really, anyone can learn to grow food pretty easily.”

Frith proved that when she spearheaded the Harvard Community Garden, a large collaborative project in Harvard Square. Students tend the garden and grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. The garden’s bounty is donated to food shelters or featured on the menu at the Harvard Faculty Club. You can see photos of the garden here.

If you’re interested in growing food in your backyard, Frith offers these tips:

  • Start small and plant things you’d really like to eat.
  • Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of good daytime light and access to water.
  • Use contaminant-free soil.
  • Consider using a raised garden bed, which allows you to control the soil and nutrient blend.
  • Talk to farmers or other backyard gardeners in your area to get a sense of what grows well in your region and when.

If you don’t have space for a garden at home, a community garden is another option. You can find one in your community through the American Community Gardening Association.

“You will be amazed by how much fun gardening can be, and the pride you take in sharing healthy food nurtured by your own efforts,” says Acacia Matheson, the CHGE’s assistant director of communications. “We hope that people will develop more interest in learning about their food choices, and how to prepare fresh, healthy food at home.”

Be patient as you cultivate your relationship with your garden and the Earth. Before long, you’ll reap the benefits. You may even see a little tinge of green on those thumbs.

My family always grew vegetables during the summers when I was growing up. I’ve wanted to continue this practice, but until recently I haven’t lived in a location that was conducive to this.

My husband and I currently have plenty of room to grow a garden, but the sun only shines on a small portion of our yard. Thus, we’ll be growing some fruits and vegetables in containers that we can place in these sunny areas.

Growing a garden can take a lot of work, so why do I desire to grow one? There are so many benefits to growing your own fruits and vegetables!

Benefits of growing your own fruits and vegetables

  • You can save money. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be pricy. Part of their expense is due to the fact that produce is often shipped from remote states and countries to local grocery stores. When you grow your own produce, you cut down on these transportation expenses and on the middleman (the store). Not only does this save money, but reducing the need for transportation benefits the environment. Keep in mind that if you’re not careful, you can end up throwing money away when you garden. The costs of plants or seeds, containers, soil, and other supplies can be costly if you don’t plan judiciously!
  • You can consume more nutrient-rich produce. It’s easier to consume fruits and vegetables when you have them on hand than when you have to run to the store for them. Because they’re freshly picked, they haven’t lost as many nutrients as vegetables that were picked days, weeks, or even months before reaching grocery store shelves. Kids who loath consuming their veggies may be more eager to eat them if they’ve been able to watch them grow.
  • You can choose exactly what you eat. Are you trying to avoid genetically-modified foods? You can choose non-GMO seeds. Are you concerned about pesticide residue on your fruits and vegetables? You can avoid using pesticides. When you grow your own produce, you can control what you grow and how you grow it.
  • You can be prepared for the unexpected. We all need food to survive. If a significant disaster were to occur, the growth or transportation of produce could be interrupted. If you have the knowledge and skills to grow your own food, then you’ll be more secure than if you rely entirely on others for producing your fruits and vegetables.
  • You can educate your children. Our children are raised in an era characterized by instant gratification. It is so good for children to experience the process of gardening—planting seeds, watching plants grow, weeding, watering, picking produce, etc. This process teaches children to wait and work hard for an outcome. It’s also good for children to understand and appreciate the origins of the food they eat. Many children don’t know that milk comes from cows or that French fries come from potatoes that grow in the ground. Growing a garden can help your kids learn about food sources.

Do you grow your own fruits and vegetables? How does growing your own produce benefit you?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Works for Me Wednesday, Titus 2sday, Growing Homemakers, One Project at a Time, & Titus 2 Tuesday.

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