How do you feel about gardening? Do you love the calming benefits of being outdoors? Or is it just not your bag?
I’ve enjoyed gardening more and more over the last few years. Many of us discovered a love of being outdoors and growing during lockdown. I love the peace and tranquillity of pottering around, doing some weeding and marvelling in the fact that I’ve actually managed to grow things that look so beautiful.
In the current economic climate, there are more reasons than ever to get out and start planting. Growing vegetables is a great way to reduce your food bill and has huge environmental benefits too.
Environmental benefits of home-grown food
Air and water pollution is reduced if food is grown organically. When we garden at home, we don’t use the herbicides and pesticides used on some farms. Because our food doesn’t need to be transported to market and then to our homes, we are reducing air pollution as planes, ships, trucks and cars are not used to bring the food to our tables.
Food waste as you’re more likely to grow what you need and like. And as you’ve worked hard to produce the food, you’re more likely to make sure it isn’t wasted. Perhaps the biggest positive for the environment is the fact that home-grown food doesn’t require packaging.
A fifth of the waste we throw out is packaging. That equates to five million tonnes of it in the UK every year which is a massive amount. Anything we can do to reduce that amount will benefit the environment.
Apart from these benefits to our pocket and the environment, gardening and growing some of your own food has many health benefits for us too.
Health benefits of gardening
Outdoor gardening can help your body fight disease. Humans are more like plants than we may realise. Our bodies are capable of photosynthesis — the process where plants make their own food using sunlight. Skin uses sunlight to make vitamin D which is one of the key nutrients we need to stay healthy.
Regularly pottering in the garden (or doing a full-on weeding session) on a sunny day can help lower your risk of diseases like cancer, dementia, and type 2 diabetes. So, a little sunshine in the garden goes a very long way in your body.
Even light gardening is a great way to keep your body working well. Raking, weeding, cutting grass and digging all use major muscle groups in your body. Some studies have found that regular gardening may help to off-set age-related weight gain as well as helping us to sleep better. The number of calories we can burn from 30 minutes of gardening is similar to playing badminton or practising yoga.
Better sleep is as a result of being physically tired due to the level of exertion, but also due to the mental health benefits of gardening. It can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety which in turn, help you get a better night’s sleep.
If you’ve been feeling stressed by something, time in your garden can help you to feel better. Not only does gardening give you time and space to think things through, but studies have also found that it helps to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body.
Family and community gardens
Spending time gardening with family and friends is something many of us have started to do since the global pandemic changed our lives. Lockdown was a difficult and isolating time which inspired many of us to go outdoors and find comfort in nature. Research carried out by Mind has shown that millions of us took up gardening for the first time as a result of the pandemic.
And many more found that their mental health improved by connecting with people outdoors, whether that was through conversations over their garden fence, or in parks and open spaces.
Getting children involved in gardening at an early age has huge benefits for their development too. Children are curious and often prefer playing in the dirt which makes them natural gardeners. Gardening helps them experience a sense of accomplishment when they grow something from seed, helps them learn about nature and nutrition, and encourages responsibility. It’s also a great space to help spend time together bonding.
If you’re looking for more ideas about how to live a more sustainable way, have a look at this article from Sunshine Sarah. And head over to our homepage to read more ways to save money and be kinder to our environment.