2020 was the year most of us adopted various hobbies, whether to pass the time or feel more productive. Worried about a shortage of food and wanting to spend more time surrounded by nature, many people turned to gardening.
Besides creating an inviting space and improving curb appeal, gardening comes with a wide array of health benefits that all novice and experienced gardeners are well aware of. For example, if you decide to take up gardening, you will be exposed to more sunlight which has many perks such as improving your sleep, strengthening your immune system, reducing stress, and fighting off depression. What is more, gardening is also a good exercise during which you can burn many calories, as you will be dragging bags of soils, moving containers, and doing various repetitive movements.
With that in mind, gardening is not only good for your health. It also has various benefits for the environment. If you are passionate about preserving the planet for all future generations, you are probably looking for ways how you can help. Keep on reading to learn more about the perks that producing your own food has for the environment.
You will be reducing your carbon footprint
For starters, growing your own food means that you will be lowering your carbon footprint. By having everything that you need in your own backyard, you will be taking fewer trips to the store. Even if you live right next to a supermarket and can go there on foot or by bike, just think about how far the food you are buying traveled to make it to the shelves and your plate. Therefore, you will be saving both time and money if you choose to dedicate a small part of your backyard to a garden or add a few containers to your balcony.
Your energy use will be lowered
On top of lowering your carbon footprint, you could also be using less energy. For instance, if you decide to plant a few trees and shrubs in addition to your veggie and herb garden, you can reduce the cooling costs of your home. If the sun’s energy heats up your home in no time, you are surely firing up the air conditioner and other cooling devices to feel more pleasant indoors. Rather than spend tons of money on energy bills, you could strategically place a few plants that will block the sun from entering your home. Plus, you are also reducing the use of fossil fuels if your home is powered by these non-renewable sources.
Moreover, while taking care of your garden, there are other ways how you can be even more energy-efficient. For instance, when illuminating your yard, look for LED bulbs or solar-powered lights. Then, you want to avoid using gasoline-powered tools like leaf blowers and lawnmowers. Doing these things manually will not only help save the environment but also help you feel more accomplished. So, using hand clippers, push mowers, and rakes will all help lower the pollution that a gas-powered tool could inflict on the planet.
Plants help clean the air and soil
If you choose to start your own garden, you will also be helping reduce air and ground pollution. First of all, you are surely aware of the fact that plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis. During this process, they also take in carbon dioxide, meaning that they recycle our waste into something we need to survive. Furthermore, they also create a much healthier environment by removing various bacteria and chemicals from the air.
On the other hand, it’s not just the air that plants clean. They also have the ability to clean the ground as their roots uptake chemicals and heavy metals that they come into contact within the soil and groundwater. By doing this, they create a much healthier ground. However, this can often harm them so if you notice that your plants are not doing well, there might be a problem with the soil so make sure you have it tested.
The amount of chemicals will be reduced
While plants have the ability to filter various chemicals, you should not rely only on them to have a cleaner planet. You also need to make an effort to have healthy food and an environment. So, with that in mind, you need to be careful when selecting the fertilizer that you will be adding to the soil and pesticides that you will be using to keep pests at bay.
When choosing the right fertilizer, you should look for organic kinds that will not further damage the planet with various chemicals. Something else you can consider doing is starting your own compost. Creating compost is not difficult but keep in mind that it will not happen overnight. You can use various kitchen scraps such as leftover veggies and fruits, peelings, cereal, tea leaves and bags, and coffee grounds. However, avoid animal products like meat, bones, and milk. Dead leaves, grass clippings, twigs, old herbs, pine needles, shredded newspapers and any non-glossy paper, sawdust, old clothes and towels from natural fabrics, and many other things can all find a place in your compost bin.
What is more, there is no need to use harmful chemicals to keep weeds, pests, and various insects away. Something you can do instead is to attract natural predators that will repel certain pests. For instance, you can attract wasps and ladybugs to steer clear of aphids. Then, you can plant aromatic herbs like mint, basil, and citronella to deter potato beetles. Another approach is to add a few sacrificial plants that pests can feed on while your prized plants will stay safe.
It helps with water conservation
Did you know that water scarcity affects a third of the planet’s population? By consciously watering your plants, you will be reducing water waste. So, instead of giving your plants a light sprinkle every day, you should soak the soil to encourage the roots to grow deep and strong. Opt for drip irrigation or a soaker garden hose to ensure best watering practices. Additionally, you want to water early in the morning to reduce evaporation loss and allow the foliage to dry quickly.
What is more, drinking water is often full of various chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides that ended up in groundwater. By using the previously mentioned natural ways of keeping pests at bay, you can prevent these chemicals from finding their way into the water that you drink.
Plants help prevent soil erosion
By encouraging deep and strong roots, you are helping prevent soil erosion as well. The roots actually bind the soil together and stop it from washing away after heavy rains. Moreover, they also protect slopes from going downhill.
You will produce less waste
Growing your own food can also reduce the size of landfills as you will be producing less waste. As landfills are full of yard waste and food scraps, making your own compost is a great way to have less waste. Everything that you don’t eat can be reused and turned into food for your plants. Besides lowering your waste levels in this way, you will also have fewer plastic containers that you will have to get rid of as you will not have to purchase anything packed in plastic at the store.
It can lower noise pollution
Noise pollution is a big problem nowadays but it can also be combatted with plants. In case you are looking to make your home a bit quieter, you should consider planting a row of shrubs or trees to act as a natural sound barrier. As vegetation absorbs sounds, it can help reduce urban noises so you will not only be creating a peaceful place for yourself but everyone else as well.
You are contributing to wildlife preservation
A big part of saving the planet is helping preserve the animals that live on it. As the global population keeps growing, we are turning more and more wildlife habitats into urban spaces. By creating a garden in your yard or on your balcony, you will be providing all sorts of species with a safe space. From birds and insects to small critters, you are letting various animals eat, reproduce, and thrive.
We talked about how various pesticides full of chemicals can be harmful to your food and planet but they are also making an impact on the ecosystem. For example, you don’t want to get rid of slugs as they have an important role in the food chain. Then, you want to encourage pollinators as they will help various plants reproduce.
You are encouraging future generations to live more sustainably
Finally, by successfully producing your own food, you are setting a great example for future generations and showing them how they could also be helping the planet. Whether you teach your kids from scratch how to take care of each plant and how to make delicious meals from it or simply inspire a teen that spots you working hard in your garden while passing by your home, there are many ways how you can help create a community of gardeners. Plus, not only will you teach them how to grow their own food but you can also encourage them to lead a healthier lifestyle and take care of their physical and mental wellbeing.
It’s easy to see from the examples listed above how producing your own food is beneficial for the planet. From ensuring no dangerous chemicals find their way to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat to reducing your waste production and conserving water, turning to gardening is something we should all consider in the future.