Six Reasons You Should Grow a Vegetable Garden Next Year

If you're reading the Till and Trowel blog, you probably already grow vegetables (and maybe also fruit and some herbs, too).  

But if you are not a vegetable gardener yet, here's my list of six reasons to grow your own vegetables next year.

Nutrition

Homegrown vegetables are nutritionally superior to grocery store vegetables that have been shipped in from far away. The degree which they are better is somewhat up for debate: some sources say they are much much better with lots more nutrients; others say the difference is marginal at best. 

But even marginal is better!

At the very least, we know that certain nutrients break down over time and in poor conditions. It takes longer for grocery store produce to make it to the coolers in the store, therefore, more of the vegetables nutritional content will have degraded over time. 

 

Education 

A garden is a wonderful living laboratory. You can use it to teach children or grandchildren. You can use it to learn new things for yourself!

Every year there are new insects to discover and identify. You can learn about plant health. You can try different cultivation techniques. You can learn how to preserve your harvest by any number of methods (canning, freezing, and drying, for example).

A garden is a place of wonder.

Health

When you grow vegetables, you tend to eat more vegetables. If you plant a variety of vegetables, you will try them all.

If you find yourself with a massive harvest, you will have to figure out how to use it. This can open a whole new world of vegetable-focused eating. Or you can learn new skills in preserving food. 

 

Economics

Grocery bills are increasing with inflation. Growing your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs can reduce the need to buy as much as you otherwise would. This reduces your grocery bill.

Yes, there are start-up costs and yearly costs for a garden, too, and it doesn't account for the labor to tend the garden. Honestly, a small garden is probably not going to save you thousands of dollars. But gardening is a hobby that pays you back, even if just a little. Lots of other hobbies don't offer this kind of benefit. 

Environment

Even a small vegetable garden helps the environment, particularly if you grow without use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. 

Flowering vegetable plants produce food for pollinators. Plants of all kinds take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen to the air. 

Less fossil fuel is used transporting a harvest to a processing plant or a grocery store, and then to your kitchen. Carbon emissions are reduced when growing locally. 

Mental Health

There are so many mental health benefits, I'll name just a few. This is where I get the most benefit from gardening, personally. It's fun, it's satisfying, and it affirms to me that what I do can be successful.

You may be thinking, "What? You doubt that you can be successful? I've seen how beautiful and productive your garden is! Why would you doubt?"

Well, I'm human. Life can knock you around sometimes. Going to the garden is a reminder that in spite of all the difficulties in the world of people, nature persists. And I can partner with it and successfully start something that produces a harvest. 

Here are some of the ways a garden impact mental health:

  • Spending time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air
  • Exercising as you tend the garden, which promotes mental health and good mood
  • Soil contains microbes (Mycobacterium vaccae) that have antidepressant qualities
  • Positive feelings (satisfaction, pride, excitement) when growing a crop successfully
  • Positive feelings when preparing a dish using your own vegetables - fresh from the garden, frozen, dried, or canned
  • Building resilience when things go wrong

Have I convinced you? Even if you grow just a few pots with vegetables or herbs, it will make a difference. 

Now is the time to start planning for next year. Answer the big questions now:

  1. Where will I grow my garden?
  2. How big a garden do I want?
  3. How can I set it up to be successful?
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