Monday, May 14, 2012

5 Reasons Why We Garden (And Why You Should, Too)

Jonah digs a bit in the dirt and tells me "I'm ready for one, Mom!"  I hand him a seedling - kale this time - and he carefully places it in the hole.  "There ya go, little buddy."  He pats it down and begins to dig a new hole.

Last year was my first half hearted attempt at gardening.  8 months pregnant and not at all sure what I was getting myself into, I planted a few seedlings, barely watered or weeded and was amazed when things actually grew!

This year, I'm on board - for real this time.  I was talking with a friend about it and she brushed me off  - "I've looked into it and gardening is really not cost effective."  Which, of course, got me to thinking of the cost/benefit of a little back yard gardening.

Am I gardening just for the outcome?  Maybe my friend is right, and for the time and cost of supplies, our yield may be a bit measly.  Measly, that is, if you are counting benefits solely in vegetables.  I'm realizing there is more to it than that for me.  I working with the sun high over head, my kids running around.  I love the smell of dirt and growing things.  I love the miracle of planting a little seed in the ground and watching a plant climb right out.

Pulling weeds and making things nice and neat is so satisfying.  I find that gardening, like knitting, is a lot about the process.  In knitting, I am often told I could buy a twenty pairs of socks for the cost of making one lovely handmade pair.  Or a cardigan could be bought at Old Navy for a fraction of the price and none of the time.  Yes, there is that...but knitting isn't all about the result.  It's about the work itself.  Gardening feels that way to me, too.

Whether you plant a huge, meticulously planned back yard garden (like my friend Grace!) or merely dabble a bit in a few raised boxes like me, gardening is rife with benefits for the entire family.  Here are a few I've found.

1) Gardening teaches virtues.  Patience, hard work, stewardship, to name a few.  Seedlings don't sprout in a day and it will be quite a while before there are any bean pods to munch on while swinging in the back yard.  Weeds need to be identified and eradicated.  Plants need water.  Children learn these things and more when gardening!

2) Gardening teaches science.  And not just botany, either.  We have a large ground hog who loves nothing better than munching our lettuce to the ground.  The morning we found the gnawed off stalks of what should have been our lunch, the kids wanted to know what, exactly, ground hogs like to eat...and what they don't.  "Let's plant more of what they don't like to eat!"  Good call.  We looked it up online and cracked open the encyclopedia.

3) Gardening keeps kids outside.  Ever notice that wherever the Mama is, the kids are more likely to be as well?  I have.  When I spend an hour or two gardening, my kids are with me.  Maybe not gardening the whole time, but nearby - playing with the baby in the grass, or in their own little sandbox, or swinging on the swings or just digging in the dirt. As a homeschool family, gardening naturally moves us outdoors in our learning as the seasons change.  Just being outside more gives children more opportunities to learn about the world around them in new and special ways.

4) Gardening teaches about food.  Kids learn where food really comes from and opens up conversations about agricultural practices.

5) Gardening builds family relationships.  Any project a family works on together can build family relationships, and gardening is no different.  Working toward a common goal gives children a sense of belonging and family pride.

In these ways and many more, I've found gardening to be a worthwhile pursuit for us.

What about you?  Do you garden?

{Psst!  Don't forget, today is the last day to enter my Giveaway!}


  1. I agree compleatly! Our little garden doesn't always amount to a lot but we keep on learning more and more. The girls are always so excited to see the seeds sprout and pick tomatoes fresh off the vine. :)

    1. Most of our veggies end up as playtime snacks for the kids as they play outside. That is just fine with me!

  2. We love gardening! My husband is much more devoted to the hard work than I am, but I do more of the harvesting and cooking/blanching/freezing so the balance works out. We look forward to it all year and thanks to an extra freezer we invested in for the basement, we literally eat from our garden year-round. I can't wait for our kids to grow into this practice with us; our oldest loves the herb garden especially, and he'll snack on whatever he can pull up! One thing I love about gardening is that it literally connects us to God's earth. There's something about being intimate with dirt, plants, water and sunshine that is good for the soul. As a society I fear that we're losing these important, physical connections to creation, and we're forgetting our place in the wider scheme of things. Here's to getting our hands dirty!

    1. Yes! I completely agree. I also love how gardening requires us to slow down. It is a long drawn out process with lots of time for reflection, meditation and prayer.

  3. This is the first time I have tried gardening, I'm trying two 4x4 raised beds using the square foot far I am loving it! I love the excitement of going outside and seeing how much change has occurred in just a day, it has been so fun to watch!

    1. That's what we have as well. 12 4x4 beds. Plenty of space for this novice gardener!


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