Besides growing healthy nutritious food, there are many benefits of having a garden. From having fresh food on hand, to the learning opportunities for your family, there are many of reasons to start one of your own.
Have you ever thought about starting your own garden? If you are here, I’m guessing you have. If you are on the fence about it, allow me nudge you to the other side.
I am no expert by any means, however I do have a love and passion for growing my own food and learning new things with each season. Gardening can get overwhelming and I want to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. I grow a lot of fresh produce each year and really do not put a ton of effort into it.
What gets me out each year is all the benefits a garden provides my family. While I could probably come up with hundreds, below is the top of my list. This is what keeps me motivated to grow year after year.
1. Fresh Produce
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Having fresh produce my kids can snack on and I can cook with is the main reason we have a garden.
Ever have a garden tomato? Ever have a creamy tomato basil soup made from fresh garden produce? Or a caprese salad? There really is no comparison. Even my seven year old will eat a cherry tomato from the store and ask “why does it taste funny?”
Fresh food from your own yard cannot be beat. The flavors they pack is indescribable. And not to mention you know exactly where they came from and how they were grown.
I love to cook, especially when it’s with my own produce. I have a collection of some of our favorite garden recipes.
2. Yard Snacks
In the summer my kids pretty much live outside. Once breakfast is done until we drag them in for bedtime they are running around. One huge benefit of the garden is the “yard snacks” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
I leave a lot of my berry plants, sugar snap peas and carrots for my kids to snack on throughout the day. It sounds odd but they love it! Just leave the hose out and they know what to do.
My favorite summer days are when my kids are covered in dirt and berry juice.
My son loves to show all his friends around the yard to all his little honey hole of berry treasures. One time him and a buddy were just walking around the yard carrying bundles of grapes they had found. Filled my heart with so much joy.
3. Less Grocery Shopping
One thing my husband loves to say is “You know, we can just get that at the store right?” While I always have to answer yes, I love to return with “yes but we don’t HAVE to.” (Don’t get me wrong he really does love our garden).
The truth is, during the summer my grocery shopping is nearly cut in half. We don’t have the need to run to the store to grab fresh produce all the time. Instead, I can walk out to the yard and dinner is on the table. And we all know a “quick” trip to grab 1-2 things for dinner turns into a $50 plus trip. Every. Single. Time.
Freshly picked green beans, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, along with some fresh herbs, all come in handy when making a quick plan for dinner.
4. Cheaper (in the long run)
While there can be an investment upfront to start a garden, overtime it will start paying for itself.
Take my blueberry garden for instance. One plant typically runs about $20 at my local nursery. Sure $20 x 5 plants is a lot upfront, but they produce 8-10 POUNDS of blueberries each summer (and increasing every year).
Blueberries are around $5 for only 6oz at my grocery store in the off season. That would be $133 for 10 lbs of blueberries. If the harvest is increasing year after year, you can see how the plants pay for themselves in no time. And trust me, a grocery store blueberry does not measure up to a homegrown one. And that is the truth across all homegrown produce.
Blueberries are also great to freeze so we enjoy them all year long.
Once your garden is well established you can start each season for the cost of seeds, starts and maybe some fresh compost. My $10 investment in tomato seeds produced way more than I could keep up with. Safe to say I made my money back. Plus whatever I saved by not running to the store for dinner.
5. One Person Handles your Food
If you think about the journey your produce goes through before you select at the store it’s a long one. It has to be touched and handled by so many people. From harvest to people stocking the shelves, produce goes on a long journey to make it into your grocery cart.
Now imagine food that is handled by only you! It’s not thrown, dropped and handled by multiple people. Less chance of damaging and bruising and overall fresher.
6. Preserving Food
If you are selecting things to grow that you can also preserve you will just stretch your budget even further.
Things I love to preserve are blueberries, tomatoes, cucumbers (pickles), jams from my berries, onions and this year I am adding garlic to the mix.
Preserving your fresh food you can use all winter long is such a great way to stretch your gardens potential (and budget). And it doesn’t have to be complicated. My favorite thing to preserve are berries, especially blueberries. They are so simple to freeze and we use them in scones, desserts, smoothies or just thaw them out to throw in some yogurt.
There are so many great resources on home canning and how to get started. Here are a few of the ones I recommend.
Jill Winger at The Prairie Homestead
7. Self Sufficiency and DIY
I love to say the phrase “it’s from my garden.” People instantly know all the love and care that went into growing, harvesting and preparing food I made from my own yard. It really does bring a sense of pride.
My favorite meals are when I can go pick some veggies, clip some herbs and get cooking. Even better when the kids volunteer to do it for me.
Growing your own food really satisfies that feeling of self sufficiency and just doing things for yourself.
My garden has never been as valuable as it was in 2020. When the panic hit of grocery stores running out of food from people stock piling. Knowing we had a thriving garden, chickens and the ability to make sourdough we really did not feel that need to panic.
There is something to be said about taking care of yourself and being sustainable during an uncertain time. And all my work in my garden did that for us.
8. Beautify Your Yard
I am currently writing this in the winter staring at my sad, soggy garden area full of weeds and rotting compost. So it’s hard to say a garden makes your space beautiful right now but in the summer it’s a stand out piece in our yard.
Last season we grew these 8′ tall sunflowers that towered over us and the fence. We received multiple comments from neighbors on how much they loved them. Along with our green bean teepee it was a fun way to add some character to our yard.
Gardens are a great way to use areas of your yard for so much more than landscaping. With trellising varieties, flowering fruits and garden decor it’s a fun way to accent your outdoor space.
The Mammoth Sunflower seeds were from True Leaf Market and were the best thing in my yard. The birds, bees, kids neighbors, everyone loved them. My sons preschool class even got to pick one apart for a school project.
9. Gets you Outside
My favorite season hands down is spring time. That’s when my family can spend hours outside getting the garden beds ready without the heat of summer. My kids love to dig, find worms and just work along side us preparing soil and getting ready for planting. It’s honestly my favorite time of the year.
Once summer arrives and plants are well established, my garden still gets me outdoors daily. I love starting my summer days checking my gardens, watering and collecting the harvest. It gets me outside first thing in the morning and with a coffee in hand I could not think of a better way to start the day. And coming inside with a basket overflowing with produce for the day is icing on the cake.
It really forces you to spend some time outdoors and that can be as much as you like depending on how big your garden is. Could be a few containers that take 5 min or give a good hour to yourself before the kids get up. My sweet spot is somewhere in the middle.
I live in the Pacific Northwest, so vitamin D deficiency is a very real thing. Getting outside each day gives us that little boost of vitamin D our bodies need. Especially after a dark, cold winter.
10. Appreciation for Nature
We see some of the coolest stuff in our garden. Pollinating honey bees, dragon flys, colorful butterfly’s, humming birds, and despite my hatred of them, spiders. And the list goes on and on. They flock to our garden to take advantage of everything it has to offer to the environment.
Without pollinators like humming birds and bees we would be in serious trouble. And getting the opportunity to see them in action and teach my kids about their roles in the world is priceless. Plus they are just fun to watch.
11. Brings Peace – Mental Benefits
My garden is a peaceful place. It’s the place I can escape to thats calm, peaceful and brings me a sense of pride.
While gardens can be a lot of work and require tending and care, they also give so much back. An hour spent in the garden rejuvenates my soul and makes me feel as if my time is giving back in a lot of different ways. Most of the ones I have already discussed.
12. Learning Opportunities
My favorite part of having a garden is teaching my kids where their food comes from. Most kids just see the finished product and don’t know or understand how it got to them.
They don’t see the farmers preparing soil, sowing seeds, grow, harvest, package, transport, shop and prepare. They just see the finished product on their plate.
Here is a great example of what I mean.
I had the opportunity to work with the agriculture department at my local fair. They would travel to schools to teach kids about farms and where their food comes from. One of the activities was to identify different produce. They held up lettuce and said “anyone know what this is?” and one kid shouted “SALAD”. While they were not wrong, salad is mainly lettuce, the fact that the student could not identify it as lettuce is my point. Our kids have lost touch of where their food comes from.
I love getting my kids out in the garden with me and seeing the process from seed to dinner on the table. It really teaches them how much hard work goes into growing healthy, good food and hopefully they will appreciate that when they are older.
My kids love to sow seeds and we talk about what it will grow into and what we will use it for. Some things they are way more excited about than others.
My kids will almost always eat what they helped grow in the yard. The same produce prepared the same way from the store, probably not. But if they picked it, they usually end up eating it as well. ( Most of the time while playing in the yard with a handful of berries or sugar snap peas).
13. Fun for the Kids
Let’s be honest. Kids sure do love dirt. We have close to a half acre which means tons of grass space. But where do I find my kids time and time again? In the gardens.
The just love to dig, look for worms, dig up rocks and who knows what kinds of games they come up with. They can get so creative when given a bucket, a shovel and a mound of dirt. They have their own kid sized yard tools and gravitate to those more than anything else.
14. Share with Family and Friends
This one benefits everyone in your life!
While we spend a lot of time teaching our kids about how food is grown, it’s also an opportunity to teach those that visit our home. My son loves to take his friends to all of our berry plants to get a “yard snack” and just another opportunity for me to show kids the most natural form of food. I love getting the opportunity to share that with others.
It bring me so much joy when I can drop off fresh produce to my neighbors, family and friends.
I get the opportunity to share everything from a handful of mint leaves for cocktails, gigantic sunflower heads for my kids classes to experiment with, to making homemade heat packs out of my dried lavender and some delicious homemade salsas. Sharing things I grow in my own garden is one of the very reasons I do it year after year.
Are you in? Have I Convinced You Why You Should Start a Garden?
Have I nudged you in the direction to start a garden of your own? Please leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @dirt.dough so I can cheer you on! Even if it’s just one plant, you are making a great step into growing fresh homegrown food for your family, and that is something to celebrate!
Did I miss anything? What are the benefits of your garden? I would love to hear all the reasons you garden as well in the comments below.
Ready to start a garden of your own? I’m sharing all my tips to get you off to a good start.
Already have a garden? Looking for Ideas?
Build your own garden trellis for grapes or other vine plants.
Heirloom and organic Seeds from True Leaf Market
All gardening and chicken needs from Tractor Supply
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