We’re thrilled to finally be gardening again. I recently came across an article that Michael Pollan (one of my favorite authors) wrote for the New York Times called “Why Bother.” In it, he listed his top reasons for why gardening can really make a difference in the world.
That inspired me to share my top 10 reasons for why we garden. Here you have it:
- It’s cheap. If you want organic, local produce, you can’t beat the price of seeds. Even organic seeds. Can you imagine picking up 100 organic red peppers at the store for $3? Seeds are awesome.
- For the fun of it. Sure, it’s not all fun and no sweat, but let’s be honest: digging in the dirt is fun. Going outside to dig around in the dirt reminds me of being a kid, when we'd play outside long into the evening. Then and now, the perfect antedotes to stressful routines are grass-stained feet, dirt under the fingernails, and that stretchy feeling of sun on your face
- Good for mental health. Healthy soil is full of microbes. Some of them have been shown to boost your mood. I’m not even kidding. Take this friendly little bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae for example: studies show that exposure to it (via working in the dirt) can positively impact seratonin levels, just like taking an anti-depressant drug. Look for links in our resource post on Thursday.
- Sense of accomplishment. When reason #2 doesn’t pan out so well and the going gets tough (rabbits, aphids, blight, hail), you gotta dig deep. It takes persistence to solve backyard micro-dramas. But when you find solutions, you get not only the satisfaction of figuring it out; you also get a treat for your tastebuds.
- You don’t have to do all the work for the work to get done. Plants grow, whether you watch them or not. Brilliant. Planting perennials is even more amazing; with a little luck, you don’t even have plant them to enjoy their benefits (after the first year of course). I’ll never forget the delight of harvesting sage, lavender, mint, and dill from the garden beds at a rental house. What an unexpected, undeserved and deeply appreciated surprise!
- Tune in with nature. How intimately are you connected to the seasons and daily weather patterns? A few years ago, I would have said very connected. Sometimes that connection can be uncomfortable, like waking up in a tent after a night of frost, feeling cold and needing to find a place to pee. Of course, it’s far more pleasant to get out of bed when you're in a warm house and the bathroom is just around the corner. But the downside of that comfort is missing out on the beauty of misty morning sunrises, waking up to rustling wind in the trees or lapping waves. Having a garden gives me a reason, an excuse you might say, to interact intimately with our spot of nature (aka backyard) even in the middle of town. I get to check on soil moisture, protect plants from chilly nights if needed, check on growth, and ultimately find connection.
- Feeds curiosity. What is amaranth? I didn’t know until we started gardening. Try it. It’s super cool stuff. There are so many fascinating plants and varieties you don't run into everyday at the grocery store.
- It’s delicious. For example: Fresh-off-the-vine juicy tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese. Need I say more?
- Extra nutritious. The fresher your veggies are, the more vitamins and beneficial phytochemicals you get. More nutrition, less money. Win win.
- Be neighborly. When we lived with my in-laws in Amish country, we would occasionally find a gallon bucket filled with strawberries or green beans on the front stoop. This show of neighborly kindness always amazed me! (I later found out it was actually an exchange for using the freezer and the cell phone the rest of the year, but still.) With moderate attention, decent rainfall and a little good luck, I’m hoping our garden this summer gives us more than we can use and we can pass some of the bounty forward to our neighbors who have already surprised us with their generosity in other ways.
- (Oh, did I say 10 reasons? Just kidding.) Because we finally can! After several years van-life and moving around, we welcome the fact that we’re finally able to literally put roots in the ground. Because good roots grow beautiful things. While we wouldn’t trade our time of road trips and extended wilderness experiences for the world, being able to grow roots in an urban community is a beautiful thing. We anticipate new adventures as our garden and our lives grow into this new space.
Do you have a garden? Wish for one? What are your reasons? Share them with us in the comments or on FB/IG @redbudsuds #thoughtfullyclean.
It's #MotivationMonday! Enjoy this week's reflection on becoming an everyday activist to protect our precious planet at home, in our community, and beyond. This month, the theme is "grow" with thoughtful food choices.
Wondering what Thoughtfully Clean Field Notes are all about? Read the first post here.
STAY TUNED for #ThoughtfulThursday's Tools for Inspiration, including three easy action steps for the planet.
SUBSCRIBE to our e-zine to get all the month’s Field Notes in one email.
SIMPLIFY your life and try our thoughtfully clean shower bars.
SUPPORT the creation of this blog at Patreon.
Small drops make an ocean; let’s make waves.