Contrary to popular belief, being stuck at home doesn’t mean your only option is to sit around in sweatpants and binge watch Netflix while feasting on Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
I mean seriously, when psychology researchers are excited because they can use this time to study boredom and its effects on people, you know it’s time to pick up a new hobby.
Starting your own garden is a fun and rewarding way to fill your time, and you really don’t need acres of land to have a successful and delicious harvest.
Still, over 65% of American households don’t grow any type of food at home or in a community garden.
If you’re one of those people here are 7 big reasons why you should make 2021 the year that you finally start a garden of your own.
1. Boost your mental health
Whether you directly notice it or not, the past year has likely had an effect on your mental health. Boredom, isolation, stagnation, and uncertainty was the unfortunate theme of 2020 for many.
Gardening, particularly working with soil, has been proven to lift moods and reduce anxiety. Watching your plants grow and transform into a sea of bright natural colors provides a sense of achievement and pride. Plus, with all the uncertainty in the world now, having a sustainable food source for yourself and your loved ones will only ease your mind more.
2. Improve your physical health
Tilling, digging, watering, squatting, weeding – these are all things you’ll be doing when creating and caring for your garden. And let’s be honest, you probably haven’t been as active as you should be lately.
Gardening gives you a reason to be outside regularly, move around, breath in fresh air, and soak up some of that highly important vitamin D; it can have a positive impact on everything from joint health and circulation to immune system strength.
3. Enjoy fresh nutritious food
Think all fruits and vegetables are equally nutritious? Think again. Vegetables begin losing nutritional value as soon as the plant is plucked. You’re going to get a whole lot more nutrients and flavor out of something you pick and eat the same day than produce that’s traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles away.
Also, keep in mind how important soil is to the food you eat. The state of the soil has direct influence on how nutritious the final product will be. When you start your own garden, you have full control over the soil, fertilizer and nutrients, and can ensure that no harmful pesticides have been sprayed on the food you put into your body.
4. Save money
It may seem too good to be true, but you really can enjoy more nutritious food and save money at the same time. When you cut out the grocery store markup costs and start your own produce from seed, you’ll be amazed how much your grocery bill can drop. Plus, since you’re picking food fresh from your own garden, there will likely be less food waste (and money) going down the drain.
Even in colder climates, you aren’t necessarily limited to only saving money in the summer months. Most produce can be canned or frozen for year-round savings that will have you dishing out flavorful food creations instead of dollars.
5. Surprise friends and neighbors
If you feel like being generous with any excess produce from your garden, you can give some of it away to friends, neighbors, or coworkers and truly make their day (and their dinner)! Who knows, you might even motivate them to start their own garden.
In addition, many food banks and pantries welcome donations of safe, high-quality produce and the need is especially high right now.
If times are tough for yourself, try earning some money by taking your harvest to local farmers markets that are filled with people looking for fresh homegrown produce.
6. Protect environment & local ecosystems
Another nice side-benefit of starting a garden is how it will positively impact your local ecosystem and the environment overall. When you start a backyard garden, you’re helping to fight soil erosion, boost air quality, and capture carbon emissions.
Depending on what’s included in your garden, you could even be providing pollinator groups (bats, birds, bees & butterflies) with a source of nectar and pollen that is vitally important to our food chain, environment, and economy.
Plus, every time you eat from your garden instead of buying from the store, you’re lessening the demand (and eventually the usage) for fossil fuels as there is less need to transport that food across the country.
7. Enjoy a fun hobby and family activity
Finally, starting a garden is great idea if you’re just simply looking for something to do.
Compared to other hobbies, gardening can be a relatively inexpensive investment. It’s totally up to you how big or small your garden is, and you can always change or expand it after you learn what works and what doesn’t.
There are a ton of great online gardening communities and forums that can give you a sense of community, a source of great information, as well as support you in your gardening successes and failures.
When it comes to children, gardening has been shown to benefit adolescence development by improving attitudes toward learning and building important independence and sustainability skills.
How to Start Gardening Now
Even if your backyard is currently covered in snow, you should start planning your garden now if you want to have a successful harvest in 2021. One of the first steps will be determining what hardiness zone you’re in as this affects when and what you can start growing in your own garden. Then, you’ll want to get going ordering seeds as soon as possible as there have been some reports of seed shortages this past year.
Don’t want to start from seed? Let Joe can do the germination work for you and get live pepper seedlings shipped right to your door in early Spring. Happy gardening!