It's no secret that in my family, I'm the black thumb. Well, at least I used to be. My grandmother kept a garden of roses, hydrangeas, and touch-me-nots. My mother grew indoor plants all around our house and planted trees in our backyard. Somehow, the gardening bug didn't get passed down to me until I decided to try something new and start a container garden in my apartment. Whether you're thinking of growing small herbs in a pot, harvesting a few flowers, or going full throttle for a vegetable garden, starting a garden can be a great addition to your space. Here's why.
1. Peace of mind
Like reading a book, tending to a garden is a great way to get some alone time and relieve stress. The mental energy and focus needed to care for plants can take your mind off of whatever has been keeping you stressed. It's also a nice way to wind down after coming home from the office. Place a seating area near your garden, and you can come home from work and sip on a glass of wine as you enjoy the fruits of your labor. There's even an entire therapy practice dedicated to gardening called horticultural therapy which focuses on the rehabilitative effects of therapeutic gardens.
For those that will be keeping a garden in a yard, there is plenty of exercise to be had. Digging, planting and turning over soil are just a few of the many physical tasks required to maintain a backyard garden, and gardening is considered by the CDC to be a moderate-intensity level activity.
3. Saves money
Yes, it costs money in the beginning to start a garden, but it doesn't have to be expensive. Starting a container garden in your apartment can cost less than $50, but you save even more on your grocery bill by growing your own food.
4. Healthy food at your convenience
Not only do you save money by growing your own food, but you know exactly what's in it! Organic fruits and vegetables are very expensive, and for people/families on a budget, that just isn't going to work. By having your own garden, you can eliminate this setback and have healthy, pesticide-free food at your disposal.
5. Builds community
Community gardens are a great way to meet other people, and it gives people a chance to grow herbs/food even if they don't have their own outdoor space. They also allow people to have a sense of ownership and pride over contributing to the health of their city and neighborhood.
6. It's fun for the kids
We all remember what it was like as a kid — the simplest things in life can be entertaining. I've even seen gardening get turned into a game: The person who picks the best batch of fruit wins! You can even have the kids help with cooking using the food they picked.
7. Helps kids learn responsibility
By giving kids small tasks like picking fruit or watering the plants regularly, gardening can teach kids responsibility and how to care for something. They'll know that if they don't water their plants X amount of times for X amount of days, the plants will die.
8. Gardens encourage learning
Both children and adults can learn about the science of plants, the effects of weather, the environment, nutrition and simple construction. Once you start getting into growing your garden, you'll learn about which herbs grow best with one another, which seasons are best to start and creative ways to use what you grow.
9. Connects you with the environment
Some of us go straight from the house to the car/train to the office, then back to the car/train and to the house without ever spending time outside. Having your own garden (or participating in a community garden) provides a chance to reconnect with nature and get a good source of Vitamin D.
10. Food tastes better
There's something about using your own homegrown mint to make a mojito or your own tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce that just makes your food taste better. It could be the sense of pride you feel or the fact that you know where everything comes from. Either way, it works.
11. Makes your yard and the community beautiful
Rooftop gardens, windowsill container gardens, and large landscapes are all beautiful to look at. Simply looking at the different colors of the flowers, herbs and vegetables can make you feel better. How great is that?
12. Try something new
If you think of yourself to be a black thumb like me, don't be scared. You can be reformed! The key is to start small. Try keeping easy-to-maintain herbs such as basil and oregano in a container or plants such as ivy and aloe vera in small pots. Plus, the benefits of aloe vera juice are amazing!
13. Sense of achievement
It's so rewarding to see new leaves grow on your plants or see your first batch of cherry tomatoes ready to go in your salad. The mental and emotional benefits of planning, planting, and watching your garden grow far exceed the work that goes into keeping it maintained. Once you start gardening, it can become a life-long hobby with endless possibilities!