The world of health sciences can be tough to keep up with. Is the bottle of red wine good or bad for you? That may depend on which research study you read. But one thing that’s pretty unanimous in the world of health is that you can get a lot of benefits by growing vegetables at home.
As we’ve learned more over the centuries, health practices have changed and we’ve taken steps to improve. You won’t find leeches or lobotomies covered in many medical school textbooks. Smoking as a cure for asthma? Believe it or not, that really was a thing. Gardening, on the other hand, is as curative today as it was hundreds of years ago.
10 Benefits of growing vegetables at home
Physical benefits. Obvious, right? Some fresh air and sunshine is always good for you. And we always hear that we should be eating more vegetables, so this one seems like a clear benefit. There’s more to it than meets the eye, however. Other benefits include:
- Lower risk of dementia. A study published in 2006 followed 2,805 men and women for 16 years and found that “daily gardening” lowers the risk of dementia by 36%.
- Burn calories. Growing vegetables at home requires digging, raking, pulling weeds, moving soil, and more, all of which can burn as many calories as working out at the gym.
- Reduces chance of coronary disease. Michigan State University reports that, because gardening is a full-body activity, it can help prevent coronary disease.
- Increased fitness. An analysis published in 2017 found that gardening reduces body mass index (BMI) and increases overall fitness levels.
I’d say these are all good things. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce (sorry, that pun was too good to pass up). When you’re growing vegetables at home, you have complete control of your plants, so you can follow organic gardening practices and easily keep chemicals and pesticides out of your diet.
Mental health benefits. Again, fresh air, exercise, and sunshine are all good for mental health, yes? There’s not much of a surprise there. And as with physical benefits, when we start looking into the details, the mental health benefits are astounding.
- Decreased stress. There are acres of studies that point to the stress reduction benefits of gardening. One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology noted that “30 minutes of outdoor gardening” can “promote relief from acute stress.”
- Increased sense of community. Spending time outside is a great way to meet your neighbors and connect with the people around you.
- Decreased depression. A study in the UK found that green space can lower the occurrence of depression.
- Improved concentration. Researchers at Texas A&M University found that “natural settings” can decrease mental fatigue and improve concentration.
Financial benefits. Don’t laugh. If you’ve been growing vegetables at home for any length of time, you know it can get expensive if you let it. Sprinklers, gardening tools, seedlings, fresh soil, and so on aren’t cheap. But when you add (and subtract) it all up, are you really saving money?
- Reduce your grocery bill. It’s hard to say how much you can save by growing your vegetables rather than buying them. Especially for new gardeners, you can expect there to be a steep learning curve. However, once you get your gardening strategy down, you can grow a lot of vegetables even in a very small space. If you’re canning, you can make enough sauces and pickled veggies to last a year. And even in colder climates, it’s entirely possible to get six months or more of gardening time each year.
- Increased property value. A well-tended garden is beautiful, no matter what you grow. One study in New York City found that a community garden can raise nearby property values by 9.4%.
Of course, none of this takes into account the pride of growing vegetables at home or the joy of tasting those sun-ripened tomatoes right off the vine. These studies can’t calculate the excitement of watching your seeds germinate and grow, or the anticipation as those bright yellow squash flowers develop into delicious vegetables that you can put on your plate for dinner.
So eat more vegetables – especially the ones you grow yourself.
What are your favorite benefits from gardening? Share your ideas in the comment section below.