As one of the few seed sellers to offer non-GMO hybrid, organic and heirloom seeds in smaller quantities at affordable prices—often just a couple of dollars each—Pinetree Garden Seeds is one of the biggest boosters of backyard gardening. So many of our customers have changed their lives for the better by taking up gardening. We hope the list below inspires you to give gardening a go.
Can green mean lean? Yes! The exercise benefits of gardening have been the subject of significant clinical studies. Research has shown that specific gardening tasks—like digging, raking, mulching, watering, and weeding—can raise your heart rate high enough to be considered moderate to high-intensity physical exercise.
Physicians currently recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise each week for a healthy lifestyle—2.5 hours. While the time anyone spends in their garden depends on a wide variety of factors, even container gardeners will find that tending their plantings will have a positive effect on their personal fitness goals. (Gardeners working larger or more ambitious plots will easily exceed them.) And remember, gardening works more than your heart and lungs! Bending and kneeling will help you stretch and stay limber. Digging and lifting will strengthen arms and legs. Manipulating tools and cultivating plants strengthens your hands and improves fine motor skills. Gardening is a high variety, varying intensity workout that always feels worth it.
And if you face physical challenges or constraints, don’t let the known exercise benefits of gardening put you off planting! There are many wonderful tools and techniques that can make gardening safe and fun for all fitness and mobility levels. From raised planters that make it possible to garden while standing or sitting in a chair to ergonomic garden tools, there’s a way to get the work done without the workout.
2. Sunshine & Fresh Air
We’ve all been told since childhood that fresh air is good for us. Major research universities have put this folk wisdom to the test and discovered that, in fact, it’s true! Spending time outdoors in the sunlight prompts our skin to produce Vitamin D, an essential vitamin which helps prevent osteoporosis, cancer, and depression. Sunshine also speeds healing. And being outdoors improves our overall sense of physical wellbeing (creating a stronger sense of vitality) as well as mental wellbeing (lifting our mood). In fact, scientists at the University of Rochester summed up their study’s findings by saying “spending time outdoors makes us feel more alive.”
While some sunlight is necessary to produce Vitamin D, our bodies produce our daily allowance within a few minutes. Hours of sun helps plants grow but gardeners need to be careful of excessive sun exposure. Protect your skin from cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays with generous applications of sunscreen, covering as much skin as possible in light and breathable fabrics, and wearing a sunhat. As gardeners, we are often leaning over our tender plants, so don’t forget the back of your neck!
3. Mental Health
Exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are just the start of gardening’s known positive effects on mental health. It turns out that our brains are particularly soothed and stimulated by spending time in nature. In Japan, the phrase "shinrin-yoku" can be translated as “green-bathing,” a lovely way of describing the experience of spending time in a garden. Research has shown that being surrounded by nature lowers anxiety and depression, helps to manage stress, and more.
It also turns out that gardening can impart important lessons that help us better navigate our lives. Gardeners learn quickly that we can’t control the weather, we often lose the battle against hungry pests and foraging animals, and sometimes you pull a seedling instead of a weed. Embracing imperfection and adopting “a growth mindset” around our own mistakes and those of others helps us to better tackle challenges at home and at work.
4. Save Money
Pinetree Garden Seeds prides ourselves on the value we pack into each seed packet. By selling organic, heirloom, and non-GMO seeds in smaller quantities, we make it possible to plant an entire garden for less than $50. And, of course, the joys of growing something can found by planting just one $2 packet of seeds. Whether you grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill, plant flowers in planters on your apartment deck, or decide to homestead and feed your family on a couple of acres, the return on your investment will far exceed the cost.
Take a quick look at your most recent grocery receipt or spending at the U-Pick Farm or Saturday Farmers Market. Good, fresh produce can cost quite a lot, especially if you buy local or organic fruits and vegetables. And grocery store produce is never so fresh or perfectly ripe as something gathered from your garden that day, so it is much easier to enjoy eating and avoid wasting anything. Planting a garden is a great way to get the highest quality, organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables at the lowest possible price.
5. Good Eating
We all want to eat healthier—and we all want to enjoy what we are eating. Think back to the last time you picked strawberries or tomatoes or snapped a sugar snap pea off the vine. If you are used to eating strawberries and tomatoes that have been picked green and ripened on their way to a market, fresh-picked flavors and textures can change the way you (or your picky little ones) feel about eating their fruits and veggies. Fresh-picked flavor also signals a higher, richer nutritional content. The vitamins and minerals in produce begin to break down the longer these foods have been on the shelf. Every bite you take from the garden gives you and your family the best possible nutrition. When the foods that are good for you taste good, getting a recommended daily allowance is a treat. And when you have grown an ingredient yourself you are much less likely to want to waste it, so gardening can encourage families to try new foods and recipes and enjoy more home-cooked meals.
6. Build Community
Something about gardening gets you out into the world connecting with other growers. Gardeners find themselves chatting with neighbors walking by or stopping by their homes with a bouquet of cut flowers or extra summer squash to share. They meet new friends when they sign up for—or start!—their local community garden. Gardeners swap tips at the hardware store or nursery and log on to chat groups or message boards to share challenges or cuttings. (They leave the best comments and tips on our blog!) Gardeners also donate part of their harvest to churches, food banks, and shelters. Gardeners invite friends and family over for dinners made up of their own homegrown ingredients. And for families, gardens are the ultimate group project. From digging in the dirt to building raised beds to trying out new recipes, there are opportunities for children to make meaningful contributions at every age or skill level. And meanwhile, everyone is making lifelong memories together.
7. Save The Earth
Plants absorb C02 in the air that contributes to global warming and converts it to lifegiving, planet-protecting oxygen, so adding plants to the planet is always an environmental plus. But that’s not the only way gardens help green the earth. Gardens decrease pollution by reducing the amount of food that needs to be transported long distances by truck or plane. Gardeners compost organic waste, keeping it out of landfills. When gardeners practice organic growing methods they help keep wastewater and groundwater chemical-free. And by avoiding invasive species and planting non-GMO, heirloom seeds, gardeners help to preserve the rich biodiversity of our planet.
8. Have So Much Fun
Yes, it can be a lot of work. But you will savor it—not just your harvest but all the little moments that get you there. The smell of ripe berries or sun-warmed tomato vines or basil leaves torn from the stem. The hum of bees working all around you. Unwrapping corn like a present or watching pumpkins slowly glow brighter as the nights grow longer. Pinetree Gardening Seeds has been in business for 40 years now and yet burying a seed and seeing it sprout feels like a magic trick every single time we do it. And don’t you want to try it?
Here’s the thing—this is a long list of the benefits of gardening, but there are more benefits to gardening out there. We’re hoping our national community of gardeners will share their favorite aspects of gardening! How has gardening improved your life? What would you tell someone thinking of planting their first garden? Let us know in the comments!
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