Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.
I always wanted a home with a garden and I have one now. We had a lovely lawn and landscaped beds that were purely ornamental and aesthetic. A few years ago, I realized that a lawn was just silly. I never use it. So I decided to get rid of it. I turned into a fan of “edible landscaping”; believe you me, it’s great! Growing your own food in the front yard is an interesting trend that I started and now many follow.
Lawns are status symbols: they prove that you are wealthy and you could waste land instead of planting it. Agree?
Lawns are an astounding waste of valuable land. You have polluting lawn mowers, an enormous waste of water, chemicals that are poisonous. Most people have lawns which were a great activity and play area. But how many people really use a lawn? Kids and adults are glued to their gadgets. On the other hand, a vegetable patch can be enjoyed for their food production; there is nothing like the gratification of plucking something out of your garden and bringing it in to cook and eat.
I pulled out the grass and took down the hedges. I made vegetable beds with just a few bricks. And planted tomatoes, radish, greens long yard beans, ridged gourd, water and musk melon that ran up the boundary wall. I even planted a few trees that shower me with their abundance; I have huge guavas, tiny pomegranates, juicy papayas and healthy bananas.
Ditch your lawn and embrace the pleasure of growing vegetables and fruits. Your tummy, your neighbours, friends and family, and your planet will show gratitude.
Well I will give you 10 reasons why it's absolutely worth it!
Power to heal
One major reason for growing vegetables and fruits is because it is very therapeutic. Interacting with nature is crucial to sustaining a sense of well-being. Plants have the power to heal. I suffer from chronic depression and research proves that gardening benefits the mental health.
Break from gadgets
Gardening also offers a welcome break from our progressively more tech-dominated or gadget driven lives. We are glued to screens and gardening is a great way of time-out from mobiles and the idiot-box.
You can eat it!
Inspires healthy eating. Growing veggies can help stop poor eating habits. A garden can produce the freshest and healthiest foods that can have a major impact on our mental health. Just grow what you want to eat! Like Red Russian kale is one of my personal favorites. It is not available in the local market and it is a super healthy food. Your garden can grow enough for you to eat. It cuts down on your grocery bills and is also extremely healthy if you are growing organic.
You don’t have to mow it
Lawns need loads of unnecessary fertilizers and herbicides, but gardens do best when grown organically. You can ditch the chemicals in your garden.
Helps to make friends
It’ll help you gain friends. Neighbours, family and friends will be won over when you share your bountiful harvest with them.
Help the environment
Healthy, organic gardens don’t have nasty emissions. Rather they store carbon for improved soils and a cooler climate. Use your veggie patch to teach gardening to kids. They will learn and grow.
Improves your mood
Gardening releases “feel-good” chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine.
Relieves stress and anxiety
Beholding plants and flowers, indoors or outdoors, is a calming, peaceful activity. It frees your mind of worries or troubles. Gardens are special relaxing spaces with healing qualities that can work wonders when we are stressed or under pressure.
Gardening can be hard labour which is an effective way to lift your mood and lower anxiety. Stress can lead to high blood pressure, digestive problems and muscular tension. The physical exercise would reduce risks of all these. Just 30 minutes of these fat-burning gardening chores can help shed a lot of calories.
Staying in the present
Gardening needs concentration and helps you practice mindfulness; also take a moment to appreciate and enjoy the beauty around you. Digging, sowing, pruning, or weeding induce us to focus on the job in hand, and in doing put aside our worries for that duration.
Strengthens your immune system
Strengthen your immune system by being exposed to natural light and to Vitamin D. This helps build resistance against many diseases.
These are only few of the many benefits of gardening for physical and mental health. Growing your own produce requires little investment. Start organic vegetable and fruit gardening and experience a boost in happiness and general well-being.
How to start your kitchen garden
Choose your spot for the garden which gets enough sunlight. Start with local varieties of greens suitable to the climate you live in. They are easy to grow.
Plants to grow
Fenugreek, spinach, lemon grass, basil and mint are the best options to start with.
Tomato, brinjal and gourds are ideal vegetables for beginners.
The right soil
Regular soil or Red soil is the best to grow plants. Boost this with Cocopeat and Vermicompost. Here’s a simple procedure to start vermicomposting in your apartment. Also here’s a step by step method to prepare cocopeat at home.
All three are available in nurseries or you can source your compost from the local municipal corporation which turns out cheaper. Or you can even make your own compost with your kitchen waste and dry leaves.
Seeds and Seedlings
Go for organic seeds or heirloom. Local nurseries usually have hybrid seeds. Order online for good seeds. You can try Amazon or Nursery Live.
Use egg trays to sow your seeds. You can transplant them once they turn to saplings of 5 inches.
But for creepers and gourds it is best to plant them at the source itself. Just make a one inch hole and sow the seed. Just spray water on them. Do not over water.
Keep it organic. Do not use chemicals. Growing plants need nutrients. Every 15 days, just add a handful of Vermicompost or manure. Use dry animal manure like cow dung. It will keep the soil healthy and your plants will bloom.
Keep a lookout for pests. My go-to pest control method is a Neem oil spray. Just add 10ml of neem oil and 5 ml of liquid soap to 1 litre of water. Spray this on all the plants to get rid of pesky pets. Neem oil is also available on Amazon.
Well that's from me. Happy Gardening!