Stress relief, fitness, food — gardening just might be the perfect hobby. It gives you a reason to get outside, offers endless learning opportunities, and at the end of it all, you get to enjoy delicious food, gorgeous flowers, and aromatic herbs. Best of all, it’s a hobby you can do in your own backyard with little more than a few seed packets, water, and sunshine. Not convinced? Here are five additional reasons to start a garden:
1. You’ll Get in Shape
Gardening may not be strenuous aerobic activity, but it’s a near-daily hobby that gets you up and moving when you might otherwise be sitting on the couch. When you’re sowing seeds, picking weeds, and amending soil, you’re performing dynamic movements that keep your whole body limber and strong. For younger adults, it’s the perfect complement to the high-intensity exercise you get at the gym or on the trail. For older adults, it’s a wonderful way to improve balance and refine motor function for an active and independent senior years.
2. You’ll Expand Your Palate
If you’re a picky eater wishing for reform, vegetable gardening is the activity for you. It’s been shown that growing and cooking their own food makes children twice as likely to try new foods, and it stands to reason that gardening can help adults shift their palate, too.
Most of us don’t think twice about passing up a grocery store vegetable that we don’t care for. But when you nurture a plant from a seedling, giving it food, water, and watching it grow into a vibrant, verdant plant, not eating it suddenly seems like a tragic waste. Since you’re invested in the food you grow yourself, you find ways to make use of it. And while you might not like everything at first, odds are, it will grow on you. You may even find yourself amazed at just how much better homegrown produce tastes when it’s picked at peak ripeness and delivered to your plate within hours.
3. You’ll Eat Better
The big benefit of evolving your tastes? You’ll start eating better. Whether it’s a plethora of kale or a bumper crop of summer squash, growing a garden means a glut of veggies waiting to be eaten. Before you know it, your dinner plate will grow more colorful, changing every week as fruits and vegetables come in and out of season. And who can order a pizza when there’s a mile-high pile of tomatoes and peppers begging to be eaten?
Not only will your veggie consumption improve, but the vegetables you eat may even be more nutritious than store-bought fare. When food has a short trip from plant to plate, it doesn’t lose as many nutrients as conventional produce that’s picked early and shipped long distances.
4. You’ll Feel More Connected
Gardening is more than a hobby, a way to pass the time. It’s a means of deepening your connection with the environment and your community. When you spend time digging in the soil and watching the weather, you become more in tune with your local biome. You discover a new appreciation for rain, for resilient roots, and for the worms and bugs giving your soil life.
It’s also an excellent way to connect with your local community. Between sharing produce, swapping seeds, and attending gardening workshops, you’ll find a wealth of community knowledge surrounding gardening.
5. You’ll Be Happier
More than nature and community, gardening helps you connect with yourself. The peaceful, repetitive nature of many gardening tasks makes this hobby wonderfully meditative, and the effects are without question: Working in the garden reduces stress, improves focus, and simply makes you feel happier.
Even more amazing? Soil is home to a natural bacteria that reduces your anxiety every time you breathe it in. Mycobacterium vaccae stimulates the body’s production of serotonin, so it can be an especially great activity for those with mental health disorders and those in recovery, and it actually improves overall mental health.
Article by, Maria Cannon