Are you thinking about planting a garden this year? You do not need a green thumb for your garden to be a success. Whether you plan on planting edible flowers, herbs, sprouts, microgreens or vegetables, starting your own garden is much easier than you may think. In fact, gardens do not even require that much real estate. You can plant a backyard garden, container garden, balcony or rooftop garden, or even join a community garden. Regardless of what you decide to plant, gardening is good for your health. In addition to eating healthy (think about all those delicious vegetables), gardening is a form of exercise that helps relieve stress. Here are five reasons to grab that spade and watering can and head outdoors!
# 1: Gardening = eating healthy
Recent studies have been praising the many health benefits of gardening. Most important, growing your own food encourages you to eat more fruits and vegetables. In fact, eating more food grown from the ground and less processed food can help both children and adults become and stay healthy. Eating plenty of vegetables such as kale, peppers, and carrots is good for your overall health, including your oral health. Did you know that crunchy vegetables help clean your teeth? The act of chewing dislodges plaque and bacteria and produces more saliva, which helps fight cavities!
In addition to eating healthy, gardening allows you to use organic fertilizers and to avoid using pesticides. This means you have total control over what goes into your food and ultimately your body.
Getting started on a vegetable garden is not rocket science. There are many fruits and vegetables that are easy to grow such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, potatoes among others. But before you get started, here are a few things to consider:
- Pick a spot that gets about six hours of sunlight and has easy access to a water source;
- Plan your garden: start small and plant only foods you enjoy eating;
- Plant things that are easy to grow, e.g. flowers, herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, oregano, etc.) beets, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, beans, peppers, etc.;
- Use contaminant-free soil: raised garden beds are very useful as you can control the soil and nutrients;
- Pick vegetables or fruits that grow well in your region: there are many books, websites and garden apps that can help you grow and maintain your garden.
# 2: Gardening = physical activity
Being healthy is about more than just eating healthy. Exercise is extremely important for your health. In fact, too many of us lead sedentary lives. Just think about how many hours you spend in front of a screen. Luckily, gardening not only burns calories but tasks like weeding or digging can help improve strength and flexibility. Moreover, studies have shown that light to moderate gardening can help reduce blood pressure and your risk of stroke!
# 3: Gardening = good for your mental health and well-being
As too many of us know, stress and stress-related illnesses have increased considerably in recent decades. Studies have shown that the simple act of digging in the dirt is therapeutic and can help relieve stress. Moreover, the physical aspect of working in the garden and the relaxation and stimulation gardens provide can further decrease stress levels. Gardening has also been described as a mood booster and has helped reduce symptoms of depression.
# 4: Gardening = more time outdoors
Many of us can spend up to 90% of our time indoors. Gardening forces us to get outdoors and enjoy nature. In fact, being in nature is a proven stress relief and contributes to your well-being. Furthermore, being surrounded by flowers lifts moods and increases feelings of happiness. So, grab your sunscreen and get digging!
# 5: Gardening = saving money on groceries
As you become a more confident gardener, you will likely grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Whether you grow from seeds or seedlings, growing your own organic food can represent significant savings on your grocery bill. A smart way to plan your garden is to grow food that costs more at the grocery store. For example, kale is easy enough to grow yet can be quite expensive at the supermarket. Furthermore, if garden real estate is not an issue, consider planting extra and donating to charities or neighbours. Additionally, canning, freezing, making vegetable broths or composting are great ways to use up excess harvest.
Gardening is a fantastic activity for all ages and a great way to teach children about where food comes from. Most importantly, gardening helps you eat better, live better and feel better. This will improve your overall health, including your oral health! Have a chat with your dentist at your next appointment and learn which foods are good for your oral health. That way, you’ll know what to plant in your garden next season! To make an appointment with one of our dental experts, contact us today.