We all seem to have a lot of time on our hands these days and more than enough uncertainty to fill our minds and hearts along with it. Why not be proactive and productive, get some exercise, expose yourself to sun-provided vitamin D, and up your food security and nutrition by planting a garden? Anyone with a lawn or balcony can do it.
Here’s how and why.
There are a thousand reasons to garden, especially to plant a vegetable garden, but we’ll just highlight a few:
- More nutritious food than what’s in most grocery stores: Your homegrown veggies won’t be gassed, irradiated, treated with a thousand chemicals and pesticides, picked before ripe, or waxed for shelf-life (among others things).
- Exercise and escape: You don’t have to break your back gardening but the movement and activity keeps you active. It’s definitely better than being sedentary in front of a screen. Many people will sit indoors and worry, spiraling down into depression instead of being proactive and using their free time in ways that build them up or at least keep them engaged with positive, proactive activities. Be the one outside gardening.
- Save money: You can harvest seeds from foods you’re already eating for free seeds. Other seeds can be bought for less than a dollar and provide multiple bang for your buck. You can buy a packet of lettuce or spinach seeds at Walmart and Dollar General for as little as 20 cents and grow dozens and dozens of plants from them. Compare that to the cost of one head of lettuce or one bag of spinach. Of course organic and garden center seeds costs more but even then, compare their prices to veggies at your grocery store.
- Immunotherapy: Being outside means getting natural vitamin D, a known immune system booster. Most everyone is vitamin D deficient these days because we live life indoors in our offices and homes. Go outside and get your natural immunity boosting vitamin D. Meanwhile, your veggie patch will produce food with nutrition and beneficial bacteria to boost your immune system.
- Mental well-being: When you are in the garden, you are outside in sunlight and nature. Studies show that even 2 hours a week outside in nature boosts happiness and well-being.
- Connection and purpose: When you garden, you connect back with the earth and the cycle of life. You produce with your hands and energy, yielding tangible creations that bring sustenance and health. This being part of the web of life and creation brings intense feelings of satisfaction, connection and equanimity.
- Food security: These days food seems to fly from the shelves. While countries aren’t reporting food shortages, our supply chains are delicate things. Whether our economy thrives or sputters, growing your own food provides extra security and peace of mind.
Gardening is Easy
You don’t have to spend tons of money to grow food at home. Frugal gardening is my forte. I use free or nearly free materials to garden all the time. Here’s how:
Free containers: Recycle tin cans, plastic bottles and veggie containers to use as pots. Often florists contracted to green up and decorate local towns are happy to give you the plastic pots and cartons left over from planting their flowers.
Free soil: Go to local landfills and compost sites or other community sites where locals take their leaf waste and downed trees. You can dig and haul compost and mulch from these areas usually for free. See my article Frugal Gardening: Free Soil, Compost & Mulch.
Free garden space: If you have a lawn or balcony, you have a garden. You can clear your lawn in order to plant in the dirt. Don’t want to do that? Fill containers with soil, build no till rows, or construct raised beds or planter boxes.
No till and raised bed gardening is an easy alternative to tilling. Get cardboard from boxes, break them down, put them on the ground to act as a weed barrier, and throw soil and compost on top. Mound it up and plant. Want raised beds? Do what I do and use downed limbs and branches to make raised beds. You can also build them with boards.
Free seeds: Your tomatoes, peppers and many other foods contain seeds you can plant to grow more food for free. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and dried beans can also be planted to grow food for you and your family.
Nature is Easy
Nature wants to thrive. While gardening may seem daunting, the truth is that almost every seed wants to grow. It just needs soil, water, warmth and sunlight in the right amounts. Go online and read about planting times and how and when to grow the food you want. Start there and start planting.
Don’t try to be perfect. It’s a learning experience. Not everything will work and you will make mistakes. That’s part of the process. You’ll be surprised though by how much will work out and how much you will be able to harvest.
In as little as 20 days your garden – be it lawn-sized or balcony enclosed – can be producing food. Who doesn’t love that? Give it a try and watch your garden grow.
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