Sometimes in the middle of summer when it seems like all our spare time goes to the garden, both Chad and I can start to question our commitment to gardening.
It doesn’t take long though for us to remember why it is we spend time and effort planning, seeding, tending, watering, and harvesting our much-loved garden and orchard. The benefits outweigh the inconveniences.
Here are a few of our motivating factors:
When we buy produce at a grocery store, there is an inherent carbon footprint. That term is a bit abstract, but if you think about it in tangible terms, it means that a truck drove the produce to the store. Maybe that truck picked it up from a train, or from another truck that deposited its goods at a warehouse.
However you look at it, if its not coming from a local farmer’s market, there was a lot of gas involved in moving that lettuce, melon, or fresh basil from point A to point B.
Growing your own produce in your backyard gets rid of that gas. It’s much cheaper to ship a packet of seeds than to ship a box of cucumbers. And when we make our own compost as well, then we aren’t relying on gas to transport that either.
A Poverty of Local Options
There are two grocery stores in the nearest town. One of them rarely has organic produce. The other has a fairly decent selection of organics, but thanks to my chemical sensitivities and the store’s lack of care, all of the unpackaged produce they carry has a chemically taste that makes it inedible for me.
I don’t know if the people handling the produce are wearing strongly scented clothing, if their gloves are scented, or if the produce is stored with the products in the cleaning aisle. Whatever the reason, unless the food is prepacked in sealed plastic, I’m unable to eat it.
If I want an option for buying fresh, organic produce that doesn’t smell or taste like cleaning products, my nearest choice is an hour and a half away.
It’s not exactly a food desert, but for me, it might as well be.
One of the biggest things keeping me hooked on gardening is the outdoor time I get to spend.
Having a specific reason to be outdoors – planning, planting, tending, and just checking on the garden – is extremely therapeutic to me.
Spending time outdoors gives us fresh air, and digging our hands in the dirt exposes us to potentially beneficial microbes. Sunlight replenishes our stocks of Vitamin D.
The experience is very grounding.
Many people might think wildlife and gardening are a bad combo. The deer will nibble on your squash, devour your tomato plants, and the racoon will tear down your corn and take a single bite out of each ear.
But if you protect your garden from what you know is inevitable, it gives you space to enjoy the non-threatening and even beneficial presence of wildlife.
We enjoy seeing our resident hummingbirds dart around, visiting our cosmos flowers, runner beans, and sage plants.
A diverse number of spiders take up residency as well, and show us just how much biodiversity there is. And I simply never get tired of watching bumble bees, honeybees, hoverflies, and wasps visit our flowers.
As we tended our young seedlings early this spring, we watched a robin hopping around, picking up the grubs that we pulled out of the soil or cabbage worms we removed from our delicate young plants.
It reminds us that we can easily act in partnership with nature.
A Wealth of Choices
Growing our own produce opens up a huge wealth of options to us that we wouldn’t have access to, even in the farmer’s market of our wildest dreams.
Seeds come in an astounding diversity of options. I’m willing to bet that there is simply no where on the planet where you could buy such a diverse selection of produce.
Each year we grow around a dozen different varieties each of winter squash, summer squash, tomatoes, melons, watermelons, and lettuce, as well as several different types of kale, carrots, and turnips.
And that’s not to mention the different types of herbs and flowers we grow to attract beneficial insects and add beauty and fragrance to our lives.
There is really nothing like bringing in a basket full of freshly picked lettuce that you prepare and eat within the hour.
The fresher fruit and veggies are, the more nutritious they are. You can’t get more nutritious than when you grow it yourself.
Earlier this year we had a small crop of greengage plums from one of our young trees. I ate just one to test it, and my gut went from meh to ecstatic.
I can only imagine that this was from some super potent nutrients that I desperately needed.
Gardener friends, what did I miss? What about your reasons for growing your own fruits and veggies? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
If you’re not yet a gardener, or are inspired to up your gardening game a bit, here are some posts that might help: