If you thought gardening was something only women do, think again. Many of the most respected and celebrated men in history were gardeners, including Thomas Jefferson, Luther Burbank, and Johnny Appleseed. Agricultural history shows that the practice was originally started to produce beer, not to bake bread. So before you think you’re too busy to start a garden, here are 5 reasons to pick up a shovel.
You’ve been told all your life that “you are what you eat,” so you’ve taken all the right steps to ensure that your body is getting all the right nutrition – a balanced diet of organic fruits and vegetables, meat from humanely-raised animals, whole grains, and good supplements to fill in any gaps that you might have. You know exactly what you’re eating…or do you?
The fact is that many, if not most, people in the U.S. are becoming more and more disconnected from the source of their food. You may have assumed that the organic bananas at your local Whole Foods are safe because they were grown without pesticides. Wrong. Organic farms can and do use pesticides – they are just different types of pesticides than the ones that are used at conventional farms. The naturally derived pesticides like pyrethrin and azadirachtin are approved by the USDA to be used in organic farming, but they are also considered slightly toxic to humans.
While your organic produce is likely safe to eat, growing your own food in your backyard garden might be a better choice for you if you are still concerned about chemical pesticides in your food. You don’t necessarily have to be an organic gardener either; one of the best benefits of growing your own food is that you are responsible for deciding which pesticides and/or fertilizer come into contact with your plants.
As men age, the decline in the level of testosterone means that you’ll have to work harder to maintain your ideal weight. Heck, you might have even noticed a little pudge around your midsection that just won’t go away. And maybe your doctor has even started talking to you about the physical, mental, and emotional changes that happen to men as they age.
If you think talking about aging gives you a depressing outlook on life, think again. Aging is inevitable, but aging doesn’t have to be accompanied by poor health and obesity. In addition to knowing the origin of your food, when you have control of your dinner plate, you are more likely to eat healthier. A healthier diet will enable your body to maintain a healthy weight. Gardening is a great physical activity that has been shown to strengthen bones and joints, reduce high blood pressure, and prevent cardiovascular diseases. It can also help improve your mental health and boost your immune system. Some people even use gardening to treat depression, a method known as horticultural therapy.
You say you eat healthy, but are you busting through your budget to do so? If your most recent trip to Whole Foods left your bank account looking a little sad (and maybe you even cried a little bit inside), gardening is a great alternative that can significantly slash your food budget.
The next time you step inside your local home improvement store, look at the packets of vegetable seeds in the garden center. You’ll be able to find seed packets containing hundreds of seeds for $1-2. Will all the seeds germinate, leaving you with hundreds of tomato plants in your back yard? Most likely not. But a good percentage of them will, and if you collect seeds at the end of the growing season in your region and store them well, you may never have to buy seeds again. Even when you consider the initial investment of having to purchase garden soil and other basic gardening tools and supplies, you will end up saving money in the long run.
Don’t think you have the time to garden? The most time-consuming part of gardening is perhaps the initial garden bed setup and seed planting. After that, the seeds will do the work themselves, and you may have to dedicate just 15 to 30 minutes a day watering, weeding, pruning, mulching, fertilizing, or sometimes applying pesticides (if you decide to use them). That is not much time at all considering the fact that the average person spends close to an hour daily on Facebook. Half of the time you spend on Facebook can instead be dedicated on gardening, an activity that will give you a great return on small investments of your time.
If you think you wouldn’t want to garden because it seems like a lonely activity, consider this: Gardening is becoming an increasingly social activity. Many cities, health centers, schools, churches, and parks are forming community gardens, which allows like-minded gardeners to meet new friends, share advice and tips, and grow food together. Community gardens are also an excellent idea to get more involved in your community and do some good, since you can donate any extra food to your local homeless shelter.
You probably spend most of your days in an office or cubicle surrounded by brick walls. If you’re lucky, you might have a window in your office that at least allows some sunshine to sneak in. Your busy workday is probably followed by going straight home to your wife and kids, or if you’re single, to dinner and Netflix.
Nature is good for the body and soul. Humans love being in beautiful, natural, open spaces because it allows you to relax and reconnect with nature. However, the busy schedule of the average person leaves almost no room to spend time outside, reconnecting with nature.
If you’re stressed out from your hectic daily schedule, gardening may be the key to relieving your stress. Gardening has been shown to effectively lower your cortisol levels. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, can negatively influence your mood, stress level, immune system, memory, and weight. Some researchers believe that the mental health benefits of gardening come from the bacteria that are commonly found in garden soil.
The key to starting a successful garden is to start slowly and simply. Do some research to find out which vegetables and fruits grow well in your region. With a few minutes of dedication daily, you will quickly learn how to become a master gardener and provide for yourself and your family.