Vegetables are essential to a well-balanced, healthy diet. In a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, vegetables offers vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other life threatening illnesses. Vegetables grow in full-fledged garden spaces, raised beds, containers, window boxes or hanging baskets, in nearly any climate. Whether started from seed or starter plants from the local nursery, gardens enhance our lives in many ways.
Growing your own vegetables gives you the highest level of flavor possible, because you control the growing conditions and harvest of your crops. Mass-produced vegetables rarely have the opportunity to grow to the peak of perfection. Many items such as tomatoes and melons picked prematurely and ripened in warehouses with gasses, lack the flavor, texture and quality of homegrown produce.
When it comes to saving money on food, growing your own produce is definitely a cost-cutting measure that will save you money and time. Vegetable seeds cost pennies and can create more than enough plants to feed your entire family, while store-bought produce can cost several dollars per pound.
Homegrown vegetables contain a wealth of nutrients not found in mass-produced crops. Because they have access to healthy soil and the full process of photosynthesis, vegetables can develop the full range of nutrients. Garden-fresh vegetables are also free of many of the chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that can leach nutrients from the plants.
Gardening is an activity that can bring the entire family together. Everyone can play a part in the planting, care and harvest of the vegetables, and in the process get out of the house and out from behind the computer screen or gaming console. Assigning simple tasks to the younger children allows them to learn about plants and to learn responsibility. Gardening with family also allows you to connect and keep up to date on the lives of your loved ones.
Mental and Physical Health
Gardening is therapeutic on many levels. Not only does it allow you to get fresh air, sunlight, and exercise, growing vegetables is actually relaxing and helps to rejuvenate the senses. Spending time among the plants, digging in the soil and focusing on a project that has a positive outcome can help ward off the draining effects of depression and anxiety disorders, according to the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.