When it comes to health, it’s easy to focus on the advantages of supplements and specific types of food, but ignore our ability to provide for ourselves.
Personally, I love gardening. It’s a way to spend time outside and relax while also growing plants that are very healthy for the whole family.
In our modern society, the idea of gardening for health and nutrition has really been pushed to the sidelines, and people seem to forget that we do have the ability to grow much of our own food.
This is food that is healthier and tastier than anything you can buy in stores.
Gardening can also be a way to decrease the amount of money spent on food every week, which is really a good approach for anyone.
I believe that gardening is an approach that everyone should try at least once, even if you don’t have much free time or space in which to garden.
The benefits of the food you grow alone make the entire process worthwhile, and most people also find it very enjoyable.
After all, if you don’t get away from the stresses of modern life every once in a while, they just get worse.
Best Plants for a Garden
Gardening can sometimes feel overwhelming because there are so many different types of plants.
Many people find it difficult to work out the best garden plants, particularly if they haven’t gardened before.
One of the key indicators in what type of plants you choose is what you find desirable.
For example, growing tomatoes is a good choice for a lot of people, because they are so common as an ingredient in cooking.
Another approach is to look for plants that offer significant health benefits.
One example of this is Swiss chard (also known as silverbeet or Roman kale).
Swiss chard can be used in a large number of different types of foods, including salads and sandwiches.
Additionally, many people choose to use Swiss chard as part of a green juice – like in this recipe from Reboot with Joe.
While this might not seem appealing to everyone, it is an effective way to get nutrients into the body.
Another healthy use of gardening is to grow microgreens.
Microgreens aren’t actually a specific type of vegetable, instead, they are shoots of different types of salad vegetables, such as beetroot, Swiss chard and many others.
They are significant because of their nutritional composition and contributions to health.
For example, microgreens from lettuce have been found to have a high level of antioxidant activity, more so than even the mature plant (1).
In fact, microgreens tend to have more nutrients than their adult counterparts regardless of what species you consider (2).
Ultimately, when you are gardening for health and nutrition, what you choose to grow is largely a matter of personal preference and there are no wrong answers.
Gardening for Health and Nutrition
We live in a society that is fast-paced and often very stressful.
The majority of the food that people eat is heavily processed, and even foods like fruit and vegetables are subject to transport across the country and exposure to pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
The truth is, we have very little idea about what goes in our food anymore, and many people are content to leave it at that.
Gardening is a very effective way to regain control over the source of food, as well as to keep healthy food close at hand.
After all, buying fruits and vegetables from the grocery store can be just frustrating.
Often, the quality is low, the food isn’t fresh, and it’s easy to run out before you go back to the store.
Having your own garden means that you always fruits and vegetables at your fingertips, this really is a good way of ensuring that you eat them regularly.
Anyone who has ever had a vegetable garden will tell you that the food simply tastes better.
There is a world of difference between a tomato grown in a hothouse somewhere and shipped to a store, and one that you grow yourself and eat the day it was picked.
Most people who garden would never go back to buying fruits and vegetables any other way.
Additionally, as your garden develops, the amount you produce goes up.
Often, you will find that you have to find people to give some of the food to, simply because there is so much.
Other people use this as a chance to try out new ideas, like canning, making relish, jelly (or jam) as well as other types of preservatives.
Honestly, the options are endless.
There is also another side of gardening.
For many people, the actual food you get out of gardening isn’t the main reason for doing it.
Gardening can be a very relaxing activity, and a method to de-stress and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
In this way, gardening becomes therapeutic.
The reduction of stress alone is a highly significant health benefit of gardening, plus it gives people a way to get outside and simply enjoy the environment that we live in.
Even if you don’t have the space for a fully-fledged garden, there are ways of growing your own plants that are effective regardless of how limited your space is.
For example, hanging containers or window boxes provide an effective way to grow plants within a small apartment. The site Apartment Therapy offers interesting insight into ways to garden in a small space.
If you are trying this approach, choosing the best plants for a garden is even more important, because you don’t want to choose plants that grow to be too big, or can’t survive the indoors environment.
Because of this, many people focus on herbs for this type of gardening, but really there are a lot of different options.
Whether it is big or small, having your own garden allows you direct control over what you eat.
With the amount of chemicals that are being pumped into our food supply, doing your own gardening can be an important way to avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Now, you can use chemicals in your home garden if you really want to, but honestly, you don’t need any of these and it is very possible to grow healthy plants without the use of chemicals.
For example, one important approach for preventing insects from attacking your crops is to make sure you are careful with the area around your garden.
Weeds and debris from plants often act as places for pests to hide and provides them with the perfect location to attack your garden from.
Keeping your plants healthy is also an important approach, because when plants are stressed they are more likely to be targets of insect attack.
After all, this isn’t so different from the way that people get sick more often when their immune system is weak.
This means that you should play close attention to how much your plants are watered, and ensure that the pH of the soil is within the range needed for the plants.
Barriers and row covers can also be an important way of physically restricting insects from getting at your plants.
One example of this is a mesh cover. This still allows water and sunlight to reach the plants, but it prevents many types of insects from getting at them.
This can be particularly important when the plants are young, because this is when they are the most sensitive.
As plants grow and are better able to fend for themselves the mesh can be removed.
One of the most common types of barriers to use is to transplant plants in cardboard collars, often simply made from cardboard cups and go about two inches into the soil.
This type of barrier can prevent some types of insects from attacking the vulnerable roots of newly transplanted plants.
When it comes to organic gardening, having a working knowledge of insects is also a significant advantage.
Not every insect that you find in the garden is bad for the plants or for your health.
Instead, there are many species of insects that are actually beneficial and are natural enemies of the more detrimental insects that you find in the garden.
One desirable insect in gardens is the lacewing.
The larval stage of this insect is particularly effective at eating the immature stages and the eggs of many species of pest insects, including aphids, spider mites, whitefly and leafhoppers.
There are a number of places that you can actually order lacewing adults or eggs from, making it very easy to use these for pest control.
This is a much healthier approach than using insecticides on your crops.
After all, not only do insecticides introduce unwanted chemicals to your crops, but they kill any beneficial insects as well as the undesirable ones.
The choice of the best garden plants can also influence the way that insects interact with a garden.
Mixing up the types of plants in a garden can help to confuse any invading insects, because they cannot find a single part of the garden that is highly desirable.
Using herbs in the garden can be a particularly important way of controlling for pests.
The strong smell of many herbs can act as a strong deterrent of most types of insects.
Additionally, herbs are also important additions to cooking, and many have health benefits.
They also have the ability to make your garden look very nice.
When it comes to organic gardening and avoiding harmful insects, a final piece of advice is to carefully check any transplants.
It is far too easy for insects to hitch a ride into your garden by hiding out in a transplant, and many people don’t even notice.
Planning an Organic Garden
When it comes to gardening, particularly if you are wanting to go organic, planning is an essential strategy.
Planning a garden will go a long way towards preventing pests and making sure that plants are hardy and healthy.
Winter is actually the best time to do this planning, because it’s not like you can get very involved in the garden anyway.
However, even if it is spring or summer, you can still get involved in planning – you just don’t have as much time.
It’s really important to take the time to research what plants will grow well in your part of the world, particularly in the type of soil you have, before you choose what plants you will try to grow.
Otherwise, you will end up trying to grow plants that don’t suit the environment, which is not a good way to go.
When you plan a garden, one thing to take into account is how you will keep away pests.
Some of the approaches will take time or resources to implement, such as putting mesh up, and may also be reliant on the way that your garden is structured.
For example, if everything is very close together, physical approaches to pest management may be very challenging.
Gardening for Everyone
The role of gardening for health and nutrition is very important, but it’s easy to overlook the role impacts that gardens have on families, particularly children.
Gardening provides a family activity that gets everyone out of the house and can be quite entertaining.
Children love the idea of watching plants grow, and area easily fascinated with the way that the things that they plant grow from little seeds or seedlings into big plants.
Gardening also helps children to appreciate food more, and many develop a love for vegetables along the way.
After all, there is very little that tastes better than freshly grown fruits and vegetables, particularly when the person eating them had a direct hand in growing them.
I have noticed that many children who grow up gardening tend to carry this interest with them into adulthood, and also have a much greater love of healthy food overall.
However, one of the challenges in involving the entire family in gardening is that everyone has their own ideas of what the best garden plants are.
Personally, I have been gardening for many years, and it is a process that my whole family gets involved in.
Home gardening lets us improve our health and means that we know exactly where much of our food is coming from.