I’m not a gardening expert. In fact, I don’t know that I even qualify as a “gardener”.
What I do know is that each Spring I get out in my home garden with the kids and do my best (okay, perhaps not my “best”) to learn more about growing our own fruits and vegetables at home. My efforts have yet to yield a harvest that can be viewed by anyone as worth the effort. Last Summer I think we got four radishes. That doesn’t seem worth the hours we put into gardening each week.
So why do I garden? Here are seven reasons.
Reason #1: “It’s Fun”- Cassidy Spilsbury (It’s Also a Great Learning Experience for Kids)
According to Cassidy who is standing right next to me as I’m typing, gardening is “fun”. “It’s fun doing all the steps, from planting to watering”, she continues. I’ll throw in the fact that it’s an amazing learning opportunity for the kids to not only learn about growing food, but about where food comes from. In fact, studies have shown that students who participate in school gardening programs score higher on standardized testing (Bartosh, 2003).
The truth is, there’s no better family project to do while purposefully working toward something together than gardening. It’s where team work and learning meet fun and creativity for every member of our family.
The kids help me plan our garden by choosing which vegetables and herbs we’ll grow. We research growing season and carefully select seeds. Okay, that sounds like we know a lot more about what we’re doing than we actually do… let’s just say that it’s been a big learning experience.
Read more here about the Great Tomato Seedling Disaster of 2011:
Reason #2: Not To Sound Cliche, but It’s Relaxing
I may not be an expert on gardening, but I do know a thing or two… or three about the need to relax. My sister recently described me as a “cyclone” that is “constantly in motion”. Here’s what I said in early 2011 about gardening:
“After spending a couple hours working in my garden today, I came inside feeling as light and crisp as a freshly picked snap pea. I totally understand now why gardening is a hobby for so many people.”
Reason #3: What If
Last year I wrote about “Victory Gardening”, a movement during World War II to help the food shortage by planting home gardens. During the war, the government’s edict on rationing kept food supply at an all-time low, so Americans began growing food in any plot of dirt they could get their hands on.
Our food supply is fine right now. But what if. What if something happened (God forbid) that disrupted that supply: war, pandemic, bee shortage? Hello!- bee shortage?
I don’t want to be the person trying to figure out how to plant a garden a day late and a dollar short. Many apologies for the dramatic scenarios, but I’m “just saying”.
Reason #4: GMO’s (No More Frankenstein Food, Please)
If you’re one of the many Americans who is completely oblivious to the severity of the situation of our genetically modified foods (GMO’s), I urge you to take a minute to learn more about it now because I guarantee you will be outraged. (video at bottom of this page)
If you’re my age, then like me, you remember a time when kids could pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school. You remember growing up and entering adulthood having never heard the word “gluten”. There were no gluten-free foods because everyone could eat it. You are what you eat, and when your food is being mutated, your body will follow.
Before you write off the need to educate yourself on GMO’s, know that in Europe, 7% of their food comes from genetically modified crops, while in the U.S. it’s 77%. Stupide Americaans (in French accent). Major chocolate manufacturers create two batches of chocolate- one made with GMO’s for the ignorant Americans and one batch of chocolate made from ingredients not genetically modified for the rest of the world that cares to care.
I don’t know where this road is taking us, so I’m going to learn more now about growing my own food.
Reason #5: Photo Opp
Let’s lighten the mood a bit with another reason to grow your own home garden. It creates great photo opportunities.
If you’re a photography addict like I am, you know a good opportunity when you see it. A few years ago I created an entire photo shoot of my kids in the garden to use for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day photo gifts.
Reason #6: Economics
Unless radishes are running around $75.00 each, I can’t honestly say that gardening has been “frugal” for me… yet. I still consider the time and money I’ve put into gardening well worth it however, just in educational experience and fun with the kids.
If you are able to yield a harvest that enables you to reduce your grocery spending, that’s a huge benefit combined with the fact that it’s organic and all-natural. A recent trip to my local farmers market brought me avocados at $2.50 each (yes, each) and organic kale for $3.00 a bundle. I use two bundles of kale a week just for my green smoothies. You do the math.
Now that I’m composting, I expect my future gardens to bear much fruit.
Reason #7: Because You Get To Do This
One thing I have managed to grow well in my garden is herbs. For someone who uses many herbs in recipes, this has been a great resource. I love cooking in the kitchen and running out to my garden to clip some rosemary or basil (or asking the kids to do it) to use in my meal.
When I’m producing more herbs than we can use, I like to chop them up and store them in ice cube trays with melted butter, olive oil and garlic. Then, during the Fall and Winter months, I simply pop out a couple of these cubes to use in sautes or soups.
Learn more about composting:
And just in case you’re interested in “getting in the know” about the food you eat every day that comes from genetically modified crops (GMO’s):