13 Unexpected Benefits of Gardening

There’s something about Spring time that makes you want to start spending more time outdoors. From the longer hours of daylight to the milder temperatures, and the slightly more regular occurrences of sun warming your skin. The birds are more vocal at this time of year and wildflowers spring into bloom with yellow and white blossoms everywhere. This is the ideal time of year to take up a little gardening or get back into the garden after a winter off. We garden for many reasons, some of which were intentional when we first began, and some that were wonderfully pleasant surprises we simply didn’t consider. Read on to discover our 13 unexpected benefits of gardening.

1. Reduce your demand for animal products

We started to garden when we began reducing our intake of animal products. Suddenly, with less focus on someone else preparing our food, the idea of growing our own fruits and vegetables seemed incredibly appealing. As we moved away from quite literally dead produce and began eating more plants, we wanted to create a way to get the freshest, living food and drink possible. A garden allows you to more easily reduce your demand for animal products as the fun, and complete power, of creating your own meals from scratch takes hold.

The Natural Essex Girl
Sweet cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, green pepper and cucumber salad

You may also like these 6 Benefits of Going Vegan.

2. Reduce the plastic packaging you throw away

By far one of the most important benefits of gardening will be a huge reduction in your plastic packaging. Fruits and vegetables never need come in packaging and although many improvements are being made currently, sometimes it is still impossible to find items plastic free. All fruits and vegetables come from the ground, a plant or tree, and exist in nature with zero-waste packaging. Excess skins or foliage can be composted or eaten by other animals and we were thrilled to see our rubbish bags decrease in size as soon as we started growing our own food in the garden.

Read 5 ways to reduce single-use plastic now.

3. Reduce your intake of pesticides and other chemicals

Sure, organic produce carries a promise of fewer chemicals and pesticides used in their production, but in reality the best way to know for sure what is in the food you and your family eat, is to simply grow it yourself. Granted, some produce is much harder than others to grow without the use of repellants and chemicals, but for the most part growing hardy British varieties of many fruits and vegetables is easy and straight forward with no need for anything yucky to be added. Start with easy to grow produce like carrots, strawberries and runner beans.

 

 

4. Reduce the transport that’s needed to move your food

The food industry creates an awful lot of transport costs and emissions, from planes, trains, boats and lorries. By growing some of your own food in your own garden, you are directly reducing the carbon footprint of the food you eat. Plus, it is so much nicer to know that the cucumber you are eating is as fresh as can be instead of wondering how long produce has been sat in the shop or fridges before it reaches your plate.

Read more about the climate cost of food.

5. Save money on your food shopping bills

We were amazed to see our food shopping bills decrease dramatically after we switched to a predominantly plant-based lifestyle, more so when we began growing our own. We no longer need to pay extortionate prices for items that literally cost pennies to produce. By growing your own, you are cutting out the cost of packaging, distribution and any middle-men type of companies along the way. If there are things you cannot grow, we recommend you find a local greengrocer for the rest of your shopping to help cut costs and give your money to local people instead of larger companies.

The Natural Essex Girl
Plastic-free homegrown veggies from my cousin’s allotment

6. Help your body get more vitamin D

By being out in the garden regularly, your body will naturally be exposed to more sunlight which is one of the main ways our bodies absorb vitamin D, a vital nutrient for your immune system, bones and teeth along with many other important functions. With typical modern lifestyles involving more time spent indoors than out, we find tending to a garden and growing our own food one of the best ways to get us outside often, constantly topping up our vitamin D levels.

Discover more about vitamin D and sunlight today.

7. Reduce anxiety and depression

Recently, many studies and evidence support that gardening can actually help to reduce common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Regularly grounding yourself by having contact with the earth directly affects your mood and your connection to the planet. Dig bare hands into the soil and let your bare feet feel the grass between your toes. Ask any gardener – gardening is good for the soul.

Discover more grounding exercises today.

8. Become more aware and respectful of nature

One of the most noticeable benefits of gardening for us has been a more attuned awareness of the nature that surrounds us and the seasons of our home. We are grateful for the rain when it comes to put that vibrant green back into all our plants, we are grateful for the sun’s way of encouraging young plants to reach ever taller, and we are grateful for the many bees that pollinate our plants. Gardening will make you more careful in nature and more respectful of the bounties it provides – something that is so important to learn, especially for young people and children.

 

 

9. Learn to love all seasons

There is definitely something to be said for understanding and accepting the changing of the seasons. As regular gardeners, we’ve gained a far greater acceptance of the seasons and learnt exactly how we benefit from each one. The winter is no longer a dark, miserable time but instead a welcome break to re-charge the batteries. Whilst spring and summer provide opportunities in abundance, Autumn has taught us the beauty in letting go. For certain, nature and gardening is therapy in its own right.

10. Exercise

Gardening is no gym or obstacle course and tends to be a hobby associated with middle-aged and older members of society. But actually gardening regularly can be fantastic exercise for your body. Depending on the size of your vegetable plot or green patch, you’ll find yourself lifting heavy bags of soil, pushing large wheelbarrows of manure and walking up and down and up and down, watering. For those of us who lead very sedentary lifestyles most of the time, gardening is an easy way to get a little exercise every day without even thinking about it – my favourite kind of exercise!

The Natural Essex Girl
Karen planting last year’s fruits and vegetables in the garden

11. Take less food from countries that need it to feed themselves

By producing our own food in our own gardens we reduce the demand for food that we place upon other countries, many of whom could otherwise use their food to feed their own people. Obviously, it depends entirely on where you live, the health of your economy and the quantity of food produced, but it has often made us sad to see the best quality food exported from places that could really benefit from it. Local food is the best option for each and every one of us for many reasons, including the health of our planet.

Read more on the impact of taking food from poorer countries now.

12. Build your immune system

Another huge benefit of eating local food is is the argument that products grown in local soil have everything we need to fight off local bugs and germs. Consuming local produce actually helps improve our immunity to minor illnesses. Eating more plant-based food without chemicals and pesticides has also been proven to reduce the risk of more serious illnesses too. So eat as much locally produced food as you possibly can – and what could be more local than the food that comes directly from your back garden?

You may also like these 7 natural ways to stay healthy.

13. Encourage family interaction

By far the most unexpected benefit of gardening for us has been the family interaction it has encouraged. Instead of being a chore, another burning thing on the to-do list, we have found gardening to be hugely sociable and something that brings us together for everyone to enjoy. From little members of the family who are keen to learn and love getting their hands dirty, to older members of the family who have donated second-hand gardening tools, flower pots and even greenhouses, and then like to come and check up on what we’re growing. Gardening creates a fun space outside for us all and a cool way to pass knowledge from older generations down to the newest members.

The Natural Essex Girl
Small tomatoes grown at home in the garden

The Benefits of Gardening

On a personal note, we grow our own because we truly believe you get out of your body what you put in … and the only thing going into the food products we grow, is heaps and heaps of love.

So whether you are completely new to gardening or a well-seasoned pro, benefit from all the incredible advantages that gardening can offer. From earthing your physical body to giving you clarity and better mental health, gardening is great for all ages and abilities. Gardening is also low cost, simple fun that not only teaches us to respect the planet and its cycles but also enables us to eat local, chemical-free food that’s better for our bodies, our immune systems and the environment. Get outside in a green space today and start enjoying all the benefits of gardening.

Have you found another awesome benefit to gardening? Let us know in the comments below! New to gardening? Follow along on Instagram to see what we’re growing when.

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