Summer’s just up ahead, and it’s not too late to start a home garden this season. If you’ve never dug into the earth, there’s so much to gain from the venture. You may be surprised by some of the reasons we’ve put together to convince you to get outdoors and get messy. There’s something to being part of a ritual that leads to new growth. Seeing your garden come together and even small progress will give you a sense of satisfaction and boost your self-esteem. Share the profits of your garden with others, and this will grow.
Gardening is a huge stress-reliever, and studies show that for those with anxiety and depression, gardening is therapeutic. Have your kids join in on the fun because activities in outdoor spaces are connected with decreased ADD incidence and teaches your kids about patience and hard work.
Gardening burns up to 400 calories per hour, meaning you can get your workout in and feel productive at the same time. I find that it is as meditative as yoga and works all of my major muscles.
If you harvest your own veggies at the end of the season, you’ll be keeping your own change. Dry, bottle or freeze what you can’t eat fresh, or trade with fellow gardeners. If you’re intimidated by the upkeep of a vegetable garden, consider flower gardens to decorate your table.
The first time I had a tomato from a backyard garden was the first time I realized that real tomatoes aren’t crunchy. Most veggies at the grocery store are picked weeks before they reach full ripeness, so you’ll find ones that you just picked for dinner to be a completely new experience.
Gardening Tips for Beginners
Now that you’re convinced of the many benefits, gather a few essential gardening tools, such as pruning shears and a small shovel. Mulch and soil are very important items on your gardening supplies list and can be easily bought at your local nursery if you don’t have a ready source.
This pruning tool has a ratchet that makes it easier to cut through tough branches as you clear out your space. If you’ve got hearty weeds and rough ground, The Terra Tiller cultivator is heavy, double-sided and sharp.
With this belt, you can leave your hands free and your tools off the ground. Gloves are more important than you’d think, as hours of exposure to dirt and pulling weeds can be hard on your skin. Pick up some durable gardening gloves, such as these made from goatskin. They are tough, but soft enough that you’ll be able to get into the details.
It may be easier to work with a box garden first as you learn how to manage the details. An elevated planter like this one will also save your back. Choose an area of your yard (pay attention to it for a couple of days to make sure) that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and has easy access to a water source.
If you’ve never planted anything before, stick to something hearty, like perennials and marigolds, or bush beans and peppers if you want to start with vegetables. Once you have the hang of things, you can branch out. Pick up seedlings or young plants rather than starting from seeds, if you want to try others. If you’re planting vegetables now and you have an early fall, you can get a floating row cover to help extend the growing season.
Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.