I’m extremely busy with my garden; it’s such a joy to me, and on fine days like those we’ve had recently I am in raptures at the wonders of nature. (Claude Monet)
As I predicted last December, I planted tomatoes yesterday. Actually, I spent pretty much all day yesterday getting my vegetable garden ready for the summer. True gardening generally doesn’t start until Memorial Day weekend for me becase Upper Michigan is cold and covered in snow 5months of the year, but you might start your garden at a different time based on your local climate
I started my first garden sometime in high school, inspired by jobs selling vegetables at a farm market and landscaping. I’ve had a vegetable garden every year for the past 8 years or so, and it generally grows every year. I also have a perennial garden around the foundation of our house and a wildflower garden composted of plants native to the central Wisconsin region where I grew up. I have more square feet in garden than we have in our house, and I hope that someday the amount of garden exceeds the amount of lawn that we have.
Gardens are amazing, and I think everybody should have one (or more!).
Food. Yup, this one is pretty obvious, but a huge benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you actually end up with yummy vegetables (and anyone who doesn’t like vegetables is a deviant!). And it’s not hard — I kill houseplants all the time, but vegetables are easy. If you’re just starting out, green beans are incredibly easy to grow, produce a lot of food, and improve your soil. Tomatoes, peppers, and chard are also pretty forgiving for beginners.
Health. Besides the fact that plants are healthy to eat, there is all sorts of scientific evidence about the health benefits of gardening. Plants can be used as medicine, and just being outdoors and around nature can also have healing effects. Being outside gardening increases vitamin D levels. And gardening is great exercise– I’m definitely tired after hours of raking, hoeing, and digging!
Community. Gardening with others can have numerous positive benefits. In urban areas, community gardens have been used to bring neighbors together, build social capital, and revitalize blighted communities. Community gardening can also foster inter-generational cooperation, which ca have particularly strong benefits for both children and older adults. I garden alone, but I think that some of these same community benefits can occur by talking about gardening with others — for me, gardening provides a topic for me to talk with and learn from other people with whom I have little else in common.
Art. Gardens are beautiful. Impressionist painter Claude Monet declared his garden to be his most important work of art, and many of his famous paintings are based on the landscape around his home. Likewise, gardening is a great outlet for you to express your creativity, whether its by designing a gorgeous view or through the appreciation of what nature has to offer.
Tell me about your garden! What’s it like? What’s your favorite part about gardening?