When I started this hobby more than a year ago, I really thought I could save some money by growing my own vegetables. In my overexcitement to try all the new gardening ideas that I learned about, I ended up buying all the tools, seeds, fertilizers, pots, etc., some of which I hardly got to use. As I got more hooked into it, the more I had to spend on my gardening tools and materials, not to mention the amount of time I devoted on gardening every week.
Later on, I realized that the benefits of gardening for me goes far outweigh the investments of time and money that I had put into it over the past year. Here are the top 5 benefits of gardening which I found very useful:
I found gardening a really great way to relieve stress. By nature, I am an introvert, and as such, gardening is an excellent opportunity for me to spend more time alone with my plants, and get my mind off all the things that cause me to worry. Like for instance, just seeing the flowers finally bloom, or the vegetables getting ready for harvest already gives me such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
Exercise, fresh air and sunshine
I look forward to my weekends at home when I get to wake up early in the morning to start my gardening routine. I love to feel that cold fresh air brush my face early in the morning, just before dawn breaks. The sound of birds is an added bonus. I get to do a little bit of exercise as well, moving pots here and there, transplanting the seedlings into bigger pots, loosening the soil to apply fertilizer or just inspecting the plants for any signs of trouble.
Increased tolerance and patience
Gardening requires a lot of patience and since I started gardening, I developed a higher level of patience and tolerance, especially with my family and the household staff. Gardening teaches you to be patient, because nature can not be rushed. Nature also has its way of healing itself, so some mistakes that I made can be cured over time. I learned to tolerate raw imperfections in nature, which made me appreciate its overall beauty.
The biggest plus for me is that I could now resist the urge of cursing at the woeful traffic situation in Metro Manila where anyone can spend a minimum of 2 hours everyday going to work in the morning. The traffic situation in the Philippines is really terrible, and there’s no better way to handle it but simply to manage how we react to such stress which affects our daily interactions.
Nutrition from produce
My vegetables and herbs are completely organic. I get to pick and harvest them at least twice a week. This gives me enough supply of these vegetables for the family’s consumption, with a little extra to share with neighbors in the community. Currently, I have eggplants, okra, pechay (bokchoy), mustard leaves, green onion, malabar spinach, pepper and various kinds of herbs.
Opportunity for bonding with family, neighbors and friends
Last year, I was able to convince my 11-year old daughter to enroll in the gardening class with me. It was a perfect mother-daughter bonding activity. Since then, she would occasionally help me harvest our produce, which I consider as one of the highlights of weekends.
A few months ago, I conducted an urban gardening workshop in my community. Through this seminar, I was able to inspire my neighbors to start urban gardening as well. Some of them are now starting to harvest their own vegetables and herbs, in their own little backyard.
Occasionally, I would see some neighbors visit my garden, perhaps out of curiosity and fascination. There’s an elderly couple who’d regularly visit the garden as part of their daily routine, checking to see what’s new. I have shared a few of my produce and seedlings with some neighbors, hoping to encourage them to start their own container garden.
All told, the personal satisfaction and stress relief that I experienced these past several months are the priceless rewards that I derived from all my efforts. Like any passionate gardener, you just can’t help but try out more stuff, experiment on new things and bigger ideas, even if we would fail in some. In gardening, we can only learn by making tons of mistakes along the way.
But nature is a kind and forgiving teacher. She always gives you a chance to recover and correct whatever misstep you may have made in the past. This is precisely why I love gardening so much.