The Down and Dirty of Home Gardening

Spring has finally sprung, or perhaps is in the process of springing, depending on what part of Canada you’re living.  Hence, the time has come to get your hands dirty and rejuvenate your spirit by planting and sowing a delicious home garden.  If this sounds a bit ridiculous since you can simply go to the grocery store and purchase fresh produce from around the world, or just like a lot of work, perhaps you’re not aware of the numerous benefits of growing your own food.

Farmers’ Markets are abundant sources of fresh and nutrient dense goodies, but increasingly expensive—and the cost of groceries can be downright shocking to the wallet.  Furthermore, you can never be 100% sure what kind of spray may have been doused upon that head of lettuce in the store.  Growing your own garden is not only wholesome but puts you in control of what does and does not go in the soil.  So you can reduce chemical intake and increase nutrient content of the food you consume—a worthwhile accomplishment for any time of the year.  When you grow your own garden, you can make it organic and pesticide free.

I grew lettuce in a container just outside my door for the last two years and I had fresh greens for my salads for months.  I simply followed my Dad’s advice (whose garden in northern BC I miss to this day) and chopped down the leaves needed.  Miraculously, new leaves would grow back within the week—it was so satisfying and rewarding.

I’ve had varying success with dill, basil, and cilantro, but the rosemary, chives, and lemon thyme flourished constantly and for a long time, even in colder weather.  I appreciate snipping all kinds of aromatic herbs all summer long into my salads and grilled vegetables fresh from my little herb garden.

Undoubtedly, gardening benefits the whole family.  When children get involved in planting and growing food, they learn where their food comes from and become ecologically literate.  This may be the most important life skill they ever acquire.  Additionally, gardening has several more advantages over buying from a store.

  • It’s an excellent form of exercise; regularly working in a garden improves strength, endurance, learning, problem solving, and dexterity, in addition to sensory awareness.
  • Gardening is naturally mood-lifting and nurtures emotional healing and stress relief.
  • Exposure to sunshine for even ten minutes while weeding and cultivating increases your Vitamin D intake, reducing your risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
  • ‘Friendly’ bacteria in gardening soil inhaled or ingested in the form of vegetables not only improves the immune system but may also reduce allergies.
  • Most gardeners already know how much happier and calmer they feel after a good stint in the garden. ‘Horticultural therapy’ has been tested on patients with depression and mental illness with positive results.
  • Say goodbye to hot yoga and sweat out toxins while working in the garden instead.

Whether you’re a garden newbie or a seasoned green-thumb, gardening is for everyone.  Sowing fresh food and colourful flowers is also an effective and gratifying antidote for a late to arrive spring.  Surely, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

All that’s required to start your home garden is a container of some kind, the right soil mix (which you can find at any home/gardening store), and seeds or sprouts already growing.  Gardening supplies can be as simple as some empty food cartons filled with soil to special (and pricey) ergonomically correct garden tools and endless accessories from those fancy outdoor gardening stores.

Further, helpful gardening apps are available for tech lovers on both iOS and Android to help you become a gardening pro in no time: Flower Checker, Garden Answers, GardenTags, Into Garden, My Soil, Plantifier, and SmartPlant are several to check out.  Then, prepare to reap the gifts of an abundant garden in the warmer months ahead.