Let’s talk about the benefits of gardening. Here’s a list of 7 gardening benefits that I personally think are what makes gardening extra special and important. This is my second article in my Gardener Reflections series. Here is my first Gardener Reflection article on the Insanity of Spring.
I would love to hear what other benefits of gardening YOU experience in the comment section below!
The Benefits of Gardening: A Gardener’s Reflection
What IS gardening? I think gardening means something different to everyone. For some people, gardening is a way to save money on groceries. For others, it’s a way to know your food source (you can’t get more personal with your food source than by growing it yourself from good-quality seeds). Some people choose to garden in order to become more self-sufficient. Many people decide to garden because it is a delightful hobby that reduces stress.
Gardening is often a wonderful way to appreciate the great outdoors while also being productive and bringing beauty into the world. There is certainly a pride factor, too, when you pick your first sun-warmed tomato and think ‘I grew this food item from seed! So cool!’. I bet many people are a combination of all of the things I mentioned above.
The Benefits of Gardening
There are many benefits of gardening, but I’m going focus on the ones that really mean something to me. Feel free to tell me additional benefits that YOU get from gardening in the comments below.
1. Gardening is a sneaky workout.
I hate the gym. I always have and probably always will. Running is the most boring thing I can think of. And I HATE sweating. Lifting weights? Psh, no thanks. Sports? Meh, some of them are okay.
Here’s what I DO love to do for exercise: walking in nature and gardening. Both of these activities don’t feel like chores. They are, in fact, some of my favorite things to do. I once borrowed my friend’s fitbit in the late winter to see how many steps I did every day. Supposedly, you want to get 10,000 steps daily. For a month, I tried to get those 10,000 steps each day, and it quickly became a chore instead of something natural in my life.
The last day I wore the fitbit, it was finally nice enough to do some gardening outside. I went to my garden, and, like normal for me, I lost track of time. I always forget to drink water and eat meals when I’m passionately gardening (my darling hubby often has to come outside and actually gently touch me on the shoulder for me to snap out of my gardening frenzy). When the day was done, I had lifted heavy bags of soil and mulch all over the yard, and weeded up and down the gardening aisles, walked to and from my gardening shed and compost pile over and over….and I ended up with over 25,000 steps on the fitbit. It was the only day that I didn’t even think about daily exercise. It just happened naturally and pleasurably.
That’s when I stopped wearing the fitbit and started just gardening daily. Gardening remains my favorite natural way to stay in good shape.
2. I love to play in the dirt.
I hate how “growing up” has a bunch of unofficial rules. Like playing the dirt and mud. Kids LOVE playing in the dirt and mud and they get called adorable for doing it. At some point in the aging process, though, getting into a mud fight with other people is frowned upon.
Well, here’s the thing: I still like getting dirty. When I enter the house, smearing sweaty dirt across my forehead, with my pants covered in permanent dirt stains, I always have a delightful smile on my face. My hubby always knows when I’ve had a particularly good day in the garden based simply on how dirty I am when I enter the house.
Did you know that dirt has health benefits, too? That’s a nice extra bonus.
3. Gardening gives me a sense of accomplishment.
I once made a meal where the only thing that didn’t come from the garden was the meat. The onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and tomatoes in this recipe ALL came from my garden. It was the most pride that I have ever experienced from cooking a meal. And it was probably the best tasting meal, too.
I feel this benefit of gardening when I open my pantry door, too, and I look at jars and jars of home-canned food that came from my very own garden. This feeling of accomplishment, of pride, and of joy are things that make gardening worth it, even when I suffer from a particularly poor gardening season.
4. Food from my garden tastes better than anything I can get from the store.
I used to hate asparagus. Asparagus from the store is often so stringy that I have to cut it with my knife into tiny pieces to prevent myself from gagging. Homegrown asparagus (here’s my tutorial on how to grow asparagus) is SO good that I often eat the spears raw just moments after I pick it. I have never had stringy asparagus from my garden.
The same can be said with most garden produce. Is there anything more delicious than a sun-ripened tomato right off the vine? No. And snow peas from the store cannot ever be compared to the taste of a freshly picked pea pod (that has to do with starch…did you know you should only pick peas immediately before cooking them? Read more about that in the ‘harvesting’ section of this growing peas post.).
5. Gardening makes me more aware of the need to slow down and stress less.
Have you ever sat on a bench in your garden and just listened to the sounds of an active garden? There is no better way to forget the worries and stresses of human life than by listening to the hum of bees and skittering of garden lizards.
Also, every person should watch a plant grow at least once in their life. Preferably as often as possible. For example, have you ever seen a morning glory from the moment it starts opening to the moment is closes up? You should. It’s magical. It’s intense. And it’s a beautiful enough moment to bring tears to your eyes.
Modern life is all about being busy and rushing around. But it shouldn’t be. Slow down and open your eyes to the beauty of life in the garden. It opens your heart and your awareness to more important things in life than chores and work.
6. Gardening is one of the best ways to interact with nature.
Modern life is all about being indoors. I live in South Carolina, a beautiful state, and I have rarely seen my neighbors outside. I hardly ever see anyone by the shore of the nearby lake. People spend too much time working indoors and then going home and sitting indoors. It’s so bad for us.
There are a lot of things you can do outside that can get you to appreciate nature more: fishing, hiking, some sporting activities, sailing, boating, etc. However, I think gardening is one of the BEST ways to interact with nature and appreciate it more. Why? Not only are you outside for gardening, but gardening is becoming a part of nature’s cycle.
You are adding to nature by planting those perennial flowers that help the bees and other pollinators. You are intimately appreciating the weather when you rejoice that the summer sun is ripening your tomatoes. There are just so many ways that gardening helps you interact and appreciate nature.
7. Gardening brings me joy!
For me, I garden for all of the reasons mentioned above…and also one more: a spiritual benefit. Gardening brings me Joy. For me, gardening is an action that grounds me and nourishes my soul.
I LOVE digging in the dirt, being proud of my garden accomplishments, canning my own produce, and being outdoors. But really, I could do away with those things and I would probably be okay. It’s the spiritual benefits of gardening that keeps me coming back Every.Single.Day.
My soul learns the value of patience when I have to wait 3-5 years for those perennial flowers to look as pretty as they should. I have to be patient for years as I wait for my fruit trees and bushes to stop looking like miserable twigs in the dirt.
My soul also learns the importance of gratitude. Gratitude for good weather, thankfulness for good harvests, and even begrudgingly being grateful to learn lessons from gardening mistakes.
I feel deep and profound joy when I watch a butterfly land on my boot, or I watch a preying mantis awkwardly fly from one section of the garden to the other. All of my senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch) are invigorated in the garden. I think through my problems in my garden. I sing songs of praise and even songs of sorrow in my garden.
My garden is my santuary. It is where I am closest to God. I cannot think of a better benefit than that, what about you?
A Gardener’s Reflection…
This article was written about the best benefits of gardening that I personally experience. I would love to hear from you! Tell me in the comments below: what gardening benefits do you experience in your garden?
Don’t forget to check out my Insanity of Spring article where I ramble about how crazy spring season is for gardeners.
More Gardening Articles:
- How to Find Joy in the Garden in Summer
- How to Find Joy in the Garden in Winter
- How to Recover from a Poor Gardening Season
- Why I Love Watering My Garden By Hand
- How I Care for My Garden in the Fall