Why Garden?

Okay, so I have some maybe good news and maybe bad news depending on who are and how you feel about my enthusiasm. And probably how you feel about gardening. This week and probably part of next week will be dedicated to gardening which is the good news. Or that bad news depending on how you look at it.  If I can motivate just one person to even grow a cherry tomato then I will be okay with that.

Gardening. Funny story. My mom has tried many, many times to start a garden or grow things, but everything kept dying. She owns a daycare and some organization offered the local daycares and centers the opportunity of getting raised beds. It was whole program. They were taught how to garden from this expert guy and he gave them tips specific to this area. They were taught where the best places to garden (Sunlight, shade that kind of thing). They were given seeds that grow well in this area, they were given teaching objects (play vegetables, fruits, puzzles and other teaching materials). It was a cool deal. This program started just as I was getting into the whole environmental thing, so we made a lot of changes all at once. The times before when my mom tried to make our lifestyle better she was met with an army of resistance. I’m a stubborn idiot and my dad isn’t usually on board either. If I had started trying to change our lifestyle myself then my mom probably would have jumped on board without much trouble, but it’s just better that it worked out the way it did.

Anyway, the program fell through. The people in charge didn’t follow through which I wasn’t too surprised about. There seems to be very few people who can follow through and get anything accomplished. I don’t think that is specific to this area, but it sure is annoying. After fighting tooth and nail for it, my mom and her friend got the raised bed part, but I think they’re still waiting on the soil and seeds. Everyone else in the program is still waiting for both last time I heard. One thing my mom has discovered is that the reason she can’t grow anything is because of our soil. It’s mostly clay and rock. So the raised bed has now giving her the ability to actually grow something.

I have never liked the idea of gardening. I tried to stay away from anything that was ‘girly’. That was stupid, but sometimes I’m pretty stupid. Another problem was that I hate the heat and that’s mostly when you have to put the work into gardening. Weeding and heat are not a good combination for me, but that can be lessened with the cloth underneath and killing the grass before setting the bed. A summer or so ago, a friend of a friend’s hired me to water her plants while she was gone. It was so hot like 117 degrees or so and I made it out alive. Faced my distaste and came out the other side with appreciation for one thing and the idea that maybe it really wasn’t so bad. I wasn’t burrowing through our house declaring that we should get a garden or anything, but it was when something in my head kind of clicked.

Throughout the years I have grown to hate the idea of being dependent on the huge corporations and hate all the power that they have over us. With that mindset I have grown to love the idea of getting a garden. With the exception of the materials that are needed to start and the wood or whatever to make the raised bed if you need one, it’s practically free. And it’s definitely a lot cheaper than getting it from the grocery store. It just seems so logical and I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. And even when my mom started the garden, I was glad that she was doing it and I knew that it was something I wanted to do when I moved out, but now I didn’t really wanted anything to do with it now. But recently my mom showed me all the stuff that was growing and it was so cute. It looked like a place filled with hope and pride and such cuteness. So now that I have explained my history with it, I will now go into more detail on why gardening is a good idea.

  1. Better Nutrition and Better Taste. This benefit doesn’t take a study to prove it true. We all know the minute we bite into a homegrown tomato that the taste is superior—and can intuit that the nutrition is vastly increased as well. Remember, all fruits and vegetables grown and picked for mass consumption lose much of their nutrition on the way to the market.
  2. Stress Reduction. Gardening is therapeutic. According to Eva Shaw, PhD, author of Shovel It: Nature’s Health Plan, gardening reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and helps fight depression. A study done by Kaiser Permanente showed the brainwave activity of a gardener mirrored that of someone praying or meditating. A related study done in the Netherlands compared gardening to reading. It reported that, “Gardening and reading each led to decreases in cortisol during the recovery period, but decreases were significantly stronger in the gardening group. Positive mood was fully restored after gardening, but further deteriorated during reading. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that gardening can promote relief from acute stress.
  3. Added Health Benefits. A study at Texas A & M University and hosted by the Horticultural Society of the America revealed that gardeners reported more physical activity, claimed more energy, and rated their overall health higher than non-gardeners. In fact, these studies show that merely looking at a garden or plants can generate changes in such things as blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension and brain and electrical activity. (I think in my case this was definitely true.) Reporter Carl Hoffman states, “Gardening – as every devotee knows – provides an individual with almost irresistible stimuli, regardless of his or her physical, cognitive or emotional limitations. Even for the sick or disabled, a garden can provide the counterpoint of order and self-empowerment against the feelings of helplessness and loss of control that often accompany serious illness.” Author Eva Shaw, PhD says, “Hospitalized patients’ wounds heal faster and they require fewer pain killers and antidepressants when they are merely looking at a painting of a garden. Imagine the effect a real garden can have”? Finally, another health benefit is found in the area of addiction recovery. According to www.garden-field.com “For those who are dependent on harmful substances, have been through an accident or a traumatic experience, have an illness, or are in a correctional institute – horticulture therapy is said to be one of the most effective methods for recovery.”
  4. Keeps Your Brain Healthy. David B. Carr, MD, a geriatrician at Washington University in St. Louis, says, “It has been my experience that those patients (with Alzheimer’s or dementia), doing activities (gardening being one example) do better in the long haul and have a slower rate of decline than those who don’t do anything,” says Carr. “Gardening is one of the non-prescription interventions that has the ability to slow the rate of cognitive decline.”
  5. It’s Good For The Planet. One of the greatest benefits of your own garden is that it puts you in touch with the world around you. Suddenly you become much more aware of the seasons—when to plant, when not to plant. What grows easily where you live? What won’t? Is there a chance temperatures will drop below freezing? When will the sun rise and set? Has there been any rain? How much to water? All of these questions come up much more regularly when you need to know to keep your garden happy. And the more in tune we are in nature, the more likely we will be to take care of it. And lastly, everything we grow that is green is helping to reduce our carbon footprint. The crop industry is a nasty one. Our produce is driven thousands of miles to get to our grocery store and they’re usually sprayed with deadly pesticides which aren’t good for the environment, the bee population, animals, or us.
  6. Reduced Costs. According to, http://www.healinglandscapes.org/gardens/prisons.html you could save anywhere from $27 to $2,000. (I think the savings may be higher depending on how much produce you needed before as opposed to fast food and such) That is quite a lot of money. Even $27 is almost a whole tank of gas. And whatever you didn’t eat, you could sell which give you more money or you could give away which would give some else a chance to save money and gas.
  7. It’s Easy. I have never been interested in learning to cook. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do about it because even a year ago I wasn’t too keen in eating out all the time, so I knew I would probably have to learn eventually, but how was the question. My plan now is to be vegetarian which leaves out the problem of learning to cook meat and the problem of undercooking it and giving myself some horrible deadly disease. And all of meals can just come from outside after I take a few minutes to go outside and pick it. This won’t always be an option, but it would solve a lot of problems most of the time.
  8. It’s Fast. Maybe not at a farm, but in your own personal garden it takes just a few seconds to pick your food after you plant it, of course. I would even go as far as to say that it’s faster than waiting in a fast food line right when everyone else is getting off work.
  9. Creates Less Problems. One problem that keeps coming up when talking about organic farms and corporation farms is that organic farms can’t feed the whole world. Whether because it takes more attention, more crops are destroyed by bugs from lack of pesticides, takes more time to grow so there is less food available, it’s too expensive (which having your own garden is practically free) whatever people seem to think this is a problem is, the reality is that organic probably can not feed the world alone. ALONE is the key word. If most people or even more people had their own garden and got the majority or even some of their fruits and veggies from it then there would be a lot less pressure on organic farmers. If not that then there needs to be MORE organic farmers and that would also reduce stress on organic farmers. Commercial farms are HUGE. There are only three MAJOR commercial farms in the U.S. If three farms can feed the world then I’m sure broken up, divided and a bigger number of organic farmers can feed the world too.
  10. 10.  One thing that my mom learned about in her class is the therapeutic benefits of gardening. It even helps prisoners. One study in San Francisco showed that 29 percent of prisoners were re-arrested within four months of their release, while only 6 percent of those who partook in a gardening program were re-arrested.” http://www.healinglandscapes.org/gardens/prisons.html In one prison program, the prisoners were given the things needed to have a garden outside of prison in whatever environment (apartment, house etc) they were going to be living in. I’m a huge fan of prison programs like the one where they raise puppies and all that (and no I’m not in support of prisons like the one in Norway that was recently in the news. That’s just ridiculous. I believe in rehabilitation and I don’t think that non-violent offenders should be mixed with violent ones, but it shouldn’t be a vacation.) And this is one is awesome because it helps with living costs and gives them kind of a trade. The reasoning on why this works is that most of the inmates have never known how to take care of anything or how it feels to be taken care of. It lets them know how pride feels or anything and this gives them a chance to experience that.

 

So this is just a couple of reasons why I believe everyone should have their own garden. If you have or had a garden, feel free to leave a comment below and share how it’s affected your life.

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