Why Should I Bother With a Garden? – 5 Quick Reasons

Why Should I Bother With a Garden? 5 Quick Reasons to Grow a Garden on Vicki-Arnold.com

Maybe I should have started the Beginner’s Guide to Gardening series with this post. I’ve written some form of this post no less than three times in various places so I sometimes forget that I may have not written it here. Forgive me? Thanks, you’re the best.

We’ve been gardening for years and the romanticism of gardening has worn off. We know the hard work that is involved with a large garden. Our garden space is currently 48’x56′ for a total of 2,688 square feet of garden space. I’ll give you a tour of it sometime this summer when it is teeming with life, but it pretty much looks like this last photo.

We have our trials each year, but we always remain optimistic about the new growing season. Every spring finds us talking about our gardening plans, what we’ll do differently and what we did well last year. We’ve moved beyond romanticism to this is just what we do.

We garden.

Why should you join us? Well, I’m glad you asked that because I’m going to tell you.

1. Fresh from the garden food is the best.

It doesn’t matter if you buy organic everything, picking food directly from your garden is still better. Why? Because you will let your produce ripen before picking it. Commercial growers do not have that luxury because fully ripened fruit does not travel well.

2. It’s good for your health.

Gardening is good for your health. You have to spend time outside daily, which means your body has the chance to produce vitamin D. You have to bend, stretch, and walk to garden, which means you get exercise ranging from light to moderate.

Then there is the food. The food is better for you.

3. You will save money.

I am going to share more in depth on this in another post, but I can tell you this, you will save money. It is my absolute best money saving tip, which you should read. It doesn’t just save on food costs.

4. Growing your own food brings food security.

Did you know that the US average for households experiencing food insecurity is 14.7%? Gardening often brings an abundant harvest, you can preserve this harvest for your family to eat throughout the year.

You can also make a difference in your community by donating extra garden produce (or say 10% of your harvest?) to your local food pantries and homeless shelters.

5. It’s satisfying.

It can be fun at times, but more than that, growing your own food brings a satisfaction that you can’t understand until you experience it. And when you preserve your harvest through canning, freezing, dehydrating, or proper storage, you experience the satisfaction all year long.

Knowing you can take care of yourself is empowering.

Where Should I Plant My First Garden? – A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

Where Should I Plant My Garden? (A Beginner's Guide to Gardening) from Vicki-Arnold.com

The next installment in our Beginner’s Guide to Gardening series is to answer the question “Where should I plant my first garden?

Now, I obviously do not know where each and every one of your live, that would be overwhelming…and a bit creepy. So I can’t give you exact instructions, but I can tell you what to look for when planning where to put your garden.

What a Garden Needs

Gardens need good soil, fresh water, and lots of sunshine. Let’s look at these a little more closely.

Good Soil

Soil is what will feed your plants. The roots of the plants absorb the nutrients and water in the soil. If your soil has no nutrients, your plants will struggle. Good, nutrient-dense soil is darker in color and is kind of “fluffy,” meaning it isn’t compacted like cement. You can improve your soil by adding in compost, aged manure, and/or trace minerals (like kelp). Avoid chemical fertilizers.

You do not want to plant your garden in an area where you have standing water, that is an indicator that the soil does not drain well there. Soil that is compacted and does not drain well can be amended by working in sand and compost, if there are no better options.

Fresh Water

Plants need water or they shrivel up and die. It’s that simple. The best water for your garden is the stuff that falls from the sky. When that is sparse, you need to get water to your plants. Water is heavy, so keep in mind you don’t want to be hauling buckets of water long distances in the case of a drought.

Sunshine

Plants need sunshine for a sweet little process called photosynthesis. It’s how they create the fuel they need to grow fruits and vegetables. Most garden plants need 6-8 hours of sunshine each day. So put your garden in the sunniest spot of your yard.

Types of Gardens

Not all gardens are grown in the ground. There are many types of containers that you can grow your garden in, too. Here’s a run-down of some options:

  • Traditional in the ground garden. These can be planted anywhere you can dig the soil.
  • Raised bed gardens. If at all possible, I recommend this over a traditional garden. It makes it much easier to cultivate the soil, improve drainage, and keeps you from compacting the soil by walking around the plants.
  • Container gardens. This can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. A windowsill herb garden in your kitchen is a container garden. A strawberry pot on your front porch is a container garden.
  • Vertical gardens. These are really a variation of a container garden. Instead of sitting on the floor, these gardens go up. Some hang planters on walls or even create a wall of plants.
  • Hydroponic gardens. Plants are grown in a special water solution instead of soil.

I Have No Proper Garden Space, Now What?

First, think outside the ground. Is there a windowsill that gets a lot of sunshine? You could grow some herbs and salad greens there. Try getting creative. Pinterest has lots of visual inspiration for different types of gardens, try browsing there and see what you can come up with.

If you truly have no proper space, then you will have to be more creative. Do you have a neighbor or relative nearby that would let you use some of their yard for a garden in exchange for some fresh veggies? Is there a community garden space available to you?

If you want to grow fresh vegetables, find a way to do it. You will love the rewards you will harvest.

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Gardening & Homesteading on Pinterest.

Clip art from Collective Creation.

What Should I Plant in My First Garden? – A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

I get a decent amount of questions about gardening. Unfortunately, I do not have time to answer everyone’s emails individually. I got to thinking about this. One of the reasons I blog is because I want to be helpful. So over the next few weeks, I’m going to run a series called A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening where I will answer some of the common questions about gardening I receive in my email box.

Speaking of which, if you happen to have any suggestions or questions you would like me to cover, shoot me an email through the contact page. It doesn’t have to be about gardening either.

What Should I Plant in My First Garden? (A Beginner's Guide to Gardening) from Vicki-Arnold.com

What Should I Plant in My First Garden?

My advice for this is to start with what you eat. Trying new things will come when you have some experience under your belt. You do not want to spend your whole summer growing new things only to discover you don’t like any of them. Totally a bummer. Totally avoidable.

For Italian food fans:

  • tomatoes for sauce
  • basil, thyme, and oregano to season your sauce
  • onions and garlic to kick things up

For Mexican food fans:

  • tomatoes and onions for salsa
  • jalapenos for heating up your salsa
  • tomatillos to make salsa verde

For Chinese food fans:

  • bok choi and napa cabbage grow well in cooler temperatures
  • snow peas grow on pretty vines

Basically, look at the food you eat regularly and then find out if you can grow what’s in it.

Limited Space with Lots of Options?

There are two ways you could look at this. You could grow what you eat the most of or you can grow what will make the most impact to your grocery budget.

Eat a lot of salads? Try these:

  • lettuces have shallow roots and grow well in containers
  • sprouts can be sprouted on your countertop
  • carrots and radishes grow quickly and easily if you have a space you can cultivate 6-8 inches deep

Want to save as much money on your groceries as you can? These are relatively easy to grow, but tend to cost more at the grocery store:

  • bell peppers cost almost $2 each at the store, but you can buy a plant for less than $3 (and they grow more than two peppers)
  • strawberries and blueberries
  • leeks (and they have beautiful flowers)

What About Long Term?

If you are looking to stick with this gardening bit, and that would be a great idea for your health. Then there are some things you can do this year that will bear fruit (literally) in future years.

  • plant some fruit or nut trees, many of these come in dwarf varieties now
  • plant asparagus, it takes 2-3 years to be able to harvest
  • grape vines
  • consider herb gardening, most herbs are perennials so you don’t plant them each year

Further Reading

Linking up to Good Tips Tuesday, Share Your Stuff Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, The Mommy Club, Mom’s Library, and Welcome Party Wednesday.

Clip art created by Collective Creation