Four Surprising Benefits of Starting Your Own Garden

I don't get to write about starting a garden very often because the window for planting is very short in the Northeast.  Right now, as May rolls steadily in, if you haven't already planted lettuces, peas and greens, you might feel as if you are watching the ship sail away.  

Alas, there is still time for round two - the big guns - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and such, which should be planted after all fear of frost has passed (me, being so desperate for spring, took my chances last weekend and planted everything. Fingers crossed!).

I can get slightly obsessed with my garden this time of year and I love nothing more than having my hands in the dirt. I know some people see gardening as a time waster, but there are benefits to gardening that go well beyond planting, growing and eating.  If you are curious about starting your own garden but have been holding back, let me try to convince you with some surprising benefits: 

Gardening makes you strong. Starting and maintaining a vegetable garden takes work, and the larger your garden the more work involved.  Turning soil, raking, adding compost, cleaning up the garden - all good hard work and all muscle building.  The more muscle you have the more your metabolism is revved up. 

Gardening helps you lose weight. All the moving, digging, raking and clean up takes energy - in the form of calories.  What a great benefit to burn about 300 calories an hour doing something you love, and being outside to boot? Heck, the National Insitute of Health even recommends gardening a few times a week for the fantastic cardiovascular benefits. 

Gardening relieves stress. If you have ever planted a garden, seedling plant by seedling plant, you understand the meditative state this chore can put you in. We live in a world of so much chatter and information. I always joke that one reason I love gardening so much is because plants don't talk back.  Allowing your mind to drift as you plant is one of the best things you can do for stress and relaxation. 

You eat better when you have a garden. The food you grow in your own garden is the freshest you can eat.  And it also the healthiest. Think about it.  I have a feeling you will choose not to use pesticides and you get to pick and eat right away.  It doesn't get any better than that with your food.

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5/9/2014 7:00:00 AM
Heather Carey, MS
I am a nutritionist and chef who empowers women to lose the last 20 pounds while boosting their health and well being.
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