Reasons to Garden
I firmly believe that everyone should have a few houseplants or a small garden. There are a lot of reasons why it is a good idea, but here are my top five:
It’s good exercise.
When I’m weeding, planting, or watering, I’m constantly moving. I think I do around 100 squats in just an hour or so, and my arms and shoulders feel a little rubbery when I’m done. Depending on your weight and activity, you can burn 270-400 or more calories per hour of gardening.
It’s good for mental health.
There’s just something about tending for plants that provide you with nourishment or beauty that soothes the soul. Feeling the soil on your hands and the sun on your back is relaxing. Weeding is a good way to take out your frustrations, and it’s hard to be angry at sunny marigolds or cheerful petunias. Studies have shown that gardening is a mental health intervention for those with anxiety or depression.
A garden can be anywhere.
It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or out in the country, everyone can have some type of plants they can call a garden. When we lived in an apartment complex, I had a small container garden on the deck. I grew lettuce, peas, and tomatoes, as well as some flowers. You could even have some potted plants on a sunny windowsill.
Anyone can do it.
I hear people say things like, “I have two black thumbs and could never have a garden.” I disagree. Plants need time and attention, some more than others. Go to a greenhouse and ask about easy-care plants for beginners. Maybe you need to set reminders to care for them at first, but pretty soon it will be routine.
It’s fun and rewarding!
Once you see a little sprout coming up out of the dark ground, you get a thrill of excitement. When that sprout flourishes and eventually blooms into a flower or provides food for your table, you feel accomplished. Sometimes a small success in something as simple as gardening can boost your confidence. Who knows where that will lead?
Some easy plants to start with:
I have had my Pathos for probably around 15 years or more now. It has survived overwatering, underwatering, lack of sun, too much sun, cats knocking it over, babies pulling on it, and more. And it’s still beautiful and growing bigger each year! The Pathos is probably the first houseplant I would recommend to anyone looking to get started.
Marigolds are those bright yellow and gold flowers that the kids used to bring home from school for Mother’s Day. They are easy to get started, and as long as you remember to water them once a week or so – more if they’re outside in the hot sun – they will bloom bright for most of the summer.
Don’t let the name scare you! The spider plant is named for its spindly leaves that go in all directions. It is very tolerant of almost all light conditions and just needs regular watering. It also does well in cooler environments, although I have one in my bathroom and it is very happy there. Spider Plants also create little babies that you can cut off, place in a jar of water, and give to your friend or new neighbor.
I think peas are the absolute easiest vegetable to grow. Plant them in a deep pot with some bamboo stakes or a small trellis to climb on, and they will not disappoint! Plant more of them in the garden and soon you will have enough peas for dinner. They like being started in early spring when it’s still cool at night, or you can plant in late summer for a fall crop. Water regularly, and enjoy the fruits (vegetables?) of your labors.
If you want to begin keeping houseplants or a garden, the best resource is the local greenhouse. Stay away from big commercial places like Lowe’s or Walmart, as their employees are trained on how to keep the plants alive long enough for them to sell. The local greenhouse, however, is staffed with knowledgeable people who truly care about the plants and will do their best to help guide you in your efforts.
But my best advice? Just start. Because everyone needs a garden.