To say that gardening is a HUGE part of my life would be the understatement of the century. I literally grow food year round and I live in Canada! As I write this it is -6C (21.2F) and thanks to the windchill it feels like -12C (10.4F). However, even as the Arctic tundra encroaches I am busy growing in my house.
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So just to be clear, I don’t grow on the scale I do in the summer when I am out frolicking in my garden. But I grow food nonetheless just on a small scale. So below are the plants I currently have growing.
- Genovese bail
- Sweet Thai basil
- Dark purple opal basil
- Sunrise bumblebee tomatoes
- Craig’s Grande Jalapeno
- Italian parsley
- Habanada pepper
- Little gem lettuce
- Charentais melons (If you want to know more about them check this out)
Not bad for December in Ontario, Canada eh? So how am I growing so much? Well, it is all (with the exception of the tomato and purple basil) being grown hydroponically! Here is a section of my bounty in my Rise Garden (**swoon**). But I digress, as the title implies, this is a post about how gardening can lead to personal growth. So let’s get past my passion for gardening (for just a wee second) and get to the topic at hand.
1. Sense of pride
There is something magical about taking a tiny seed and turning it into food for you and your family. The fact that a single tomato seed can produce POUNDS of tomatoes is truly amazing. There is a great sense of pride that you feel when you see all your time and energy come to fruition. Growing hydroponically is an amazing way to extend your growing season (and sense of gardening pride) year-round. It’s also a great analogy for how we should tend to other aspects of our life to watch them blossom and grow.
2. Increased self-sufficiency
Growing your own food makes you less reliant on the grocery store and saves you money so yay! With less reliance of the grocery store you can take small steps to becoming more self-sufficient. Our grandparents and great grandparents could take care of themselves in a way few people today can. So while computers were not a part of their life they could for the most part feed themselves! So any steps you can take to increase self-sufficiency is a win in my books. But on top of that why pay $3 for a single head of lettuce when you could invest that $3 in a package of lettuce seeds and grow lettuce until eternity.
If patience isn’t your strong point then gardening can be a great way to flex your patience muscle. Gardening is the purest lesson in terms of good things come to those who wait. From the moment you plant your seeds to when you are ready to harvest can seem like an eternity. But when you do get to harvest, after all the watering, fertilizing, pruning and general plant-parent awesomeness it is SO worth it! Learning to value patience and enjoying the journey rather than just waiting for the destination is key.
4. Mental & physical health benefits
There are scientific studies about the benefits of literally getting some dirt under your nails. How? Well, soil (at least healthy soil) is alive and contains incredible numbers of fungi, bacteria and mycorrhizae. One specifically, Mycobacterium vaccae is believed to trigger the release of serotonin in our brains. Why is this important? Well, serotonin makes us feel happy! In addition, the excitement, pride and pure joy of harvesting the literal fruits (and veggies) of your labour can give you a dopamine boost. I have talked about The Hubby’s bipolar and how gardening helps me in this post if you want to check it out.
From a physical perspective, spend an afternoon gardening and see how you feel the next day. Chances are you will be sore. Gardening can be quite a workout and can burn as much as 250-450 calories per hour depending on the activity you are performing.
But wait..there’s more! Seeing the change of seasons in the garden can help you to realize that everything is cyclical and change is natural. Having plants you tended to die, teaches us that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do and certain things are out of your control. Creating that connection to nature can calm a person and finally, there is the community. Finding people that have like interests whether it be in person or even virtually can help to build a support network around you. I LOVE having other plant and micro homesteading people to chat with. That’s, why I created, my Facebook group Homesteading without the acres.
After a long day at work, I truly look forward to stepping out into my garden or tending to my hydroponic gardens. It’s a shift of pace, an escape from the hustle and bustle of The Day Job. I find that I feel grounded by the gardening tasks that I perform. Tending to all the plants, pruning, watering, pest control, weeding is all just so calming. Gardening is MY thing, it’s my time to step away from all the other demands on my time and focus on my plants (and myself) for a few minutes (or hours). I can truly get lost in my gardening, feeling completely at peace.
6. Sense of responsibility
As relaxing as gardening can be, it also helps evoke a sense of responsibility. This plants aren’t going to weed, prune and fertilize themselves! A quick glance out the window at my backyard reminds me of my duty to my plants. This is even more true when it comes to growing hydroponically. While my outdoor garden will continue to grow (maybe not as well) without my tending, as long as there is rain. The same is not true of my indoor gardens. Without care, the water will eventually run dry and without nutrients they won’t thrive. So the responsibility to them is even greater, and so it the feeling of pride (see we’ve gone full circle now) when harvest time comes.
So there you have it, my list of the 6 ways gardening leads to personal growth. I am sure there are loads more, so if you have any others please leave them in the comments below!