Why Grow A Garden? My Top 3 Reasons

WHY grow a garden?

‘Why’ always comes first because it’s the most important question for pretty much everything we do in life.

Asking why helps us figure out if the thing we’re thinking of doing is something we really want to do.

If we decide it is, knowing our ‘why’ helps tremendously when it comes to figuring out the who, what, when, where and how.

When you know your purpose for doing something, it makes every decision easier from then on because you can choose the direction that’s in line with that purpose.

So why grow a garden?

Maybe for you it’s:

  • To get more physical exercise
  • To relieve stress and exercise your mind
  • To explore your creativity
  • To sequester carbon and water while creating oxygen
  • To increase the value of your house

There are plenty of other good reasons. Today I want to share my own top three:

  1. Organic Food. That’s the big one. Flowers are wonderful for cutting and giving to the one you love, and for attracting butterflies and other beneficial insects, but organic vegetables and fruits are the major players in my organic garden. And not just any food, but nutrient-dense, organic food. If we’re putting in the work, we might as well do it intelligently to grow food that is much more nutritious than that which is available in the grocery store… Knowing this ‘why’ makes plant selection much easier because 90% of what I buy is either edible or in some way supports the edibles.
  2. Peace. I called this peace, but it could have been called love or calm or “it’s all gonna be okay” or maybe you’ll have your own word. When you’re digging in your garden and your hands touch the earth, the craziness of life takes a short nap, and for awhile it feels like everything’s alright… Knowing this ‘why’ makes my garden design much easier because I use colors/shapes/textures/etc that promote peace and calm (as opposed to promoting more energy and vibrancy, which would be more appropriate for a party-focused garden).
  3. Learning. When working in my garden, I’ve learned that I know very little about anything at all. And that feels good. I can finally be myself, a person who knows nothing! The best part is that knowing that I know nothing has allowed me to learn a few things. Like how sometimes, a plant’s older leaves will turn yellow, and that means something different than when its younger leaves turn yellow. And how life is hard sometimes, but if I wait a while, it gets easier again… Knowing this ‘why’ has been an end in itself – learning about the impermanence of both joy and pain has been one of the most important lessons of my life.

What I want for my life is just to be happy and healthy. The above 3 things help with that.

When you grow a garden over the course of many years, it becomes a timeline of your life. Each year is a new chapter.

Brené Brown said “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”

I wonder if a garden is a story of your soul?

I’d like to know a little more about your story. Why do you grow (or want to grow) a garden (whether it be in your backyard, window sill, balcony…)?

Let me know in the comments down below.

Phil

29 Comments

  1. Oemissions on January 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    to keep me sane, grounded, connected to life on this planet i occupy with other beings and to enhance my emotional well being, i garden

  2. RichG on January 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    For all the reasons you listed plus to have a little magic in my life.

  3. Humble on January 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    An artist is known by his art. I garden to know more about the Earth’s creator. All nature testifies of Him. Take the sunflower for example. It follows the sun across the sky each day until it matures. Then, when it has served its purpose and produced seed, it bows its head to the east and waits for the Master to harvest.

  4. Xylena Xyle on January 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I love gardening because it brings fun and excitement into my life. The sense of satisfaction when I watch the ‘babies’ growing is indescribable! 🙂

  5. JN on January 3, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Being in the garden always creates space for things that are important in life. I feel joy, calm, freedom and purpose. It re-programs the little voice inside my head that often gets going at the speed of light. It allows me to breath deeply and to interact with nature. Even in winter, here, I delight at harvesting thyme and sage (sometimes parsley preserved by a blanket of snow) It makes me smile.

  6. Trast on January 3, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I garden for many of the same reasons. I want to eat healthier food. I love that during the summer and fall, I can bypass the produce section at the grocery store. I garden because it brings me peace and joy and a feeling of being closer to God. That first time when I am out digging in the soil and even in the winter when I feel the soil in the cold frame when the world around me is frozen, brings that sense of joy and even awe. I garden because I love the planning and creating of the next garden and deciding what will be new, what will change. I love putting food on the table and telling my family that this came from the garden. There is a sense of pride in that. I love pulling salsa or pepper jam from the cupboard or freezer and know I made this from the garden in the warmth of summer. Finally, I love to garden to collect the seeds. There is something magical about seeds you have collected from your own garden, especially when you plant them and watch the miracle of them sprouting and growing.

  7. Wendy Allred on January 3, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    To increase my consumption of green leafy vegetables!

  8. DebbieC on January 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Because I wanted to taste a real tomato, corn and peas. I know what a homegrown vegetable tastes like and it’s not what I’m buying in the stores, As far as it being relaxing, I’ve caused myself more stress because all the gardeners in my family have passed away and, for whatever reason, I just never took the time to learn their techniques. So now I’m left with a lot of questions and failed garden last year.

    • RobinP on January 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      If you got anything at all out of your garden last year, it wasn’t a failure. Sometimes it takes a year or so for a new garden to get established and more balanced, so that everything starts working properly. As for answering your questions about gardening, that is what Phil is here for! 🙂 Don’t beat yourself up for what you didn’t do in the past. Maybe you just weren’t ready to learn about gardening.

      • DebbieC on January 4, 2015 at 12:29 am

        Thanks, Robin. I did stress out over it last summer. But I do know I’m learning from my mistakes. So looking forward to the adventure with you all.

    • mensamom on January 4, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Don’t give up! Last year a lot of gardeners had a rough time – it was not a good year for the garden. The prior year was great and the upcoming year is going to be even better. Smile, even if you failed you probably learned what not to do again. Growing not only happens in the garden but in your soul and mind.

      • DebbieC on January 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm

        I did learn a lot from last year and I am very much looking forward to this year’s planting season. Just waiting for this rain to stop so I can get out in the yard and get busy clearing some areas.

    • Freedom321 on January 9, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      I’m no expert, and it’s been taking me a while to get my garden to actually produce also. One possibility that I read about was if you are just starting to garden in a spot, it’s possible that there are residual chemicals in the soil, and it can take a few years for the garden to cleanse itself of these. It can also be helpful to plant a green manure in the fall, or any spot anytime you don’t have something else planted.One other thing, for my garden, has been to be aware of the climate preferences for the different plants. Such as finding the warmest possible place for tomatoes and peppers. This is against our house, on the side that faces southwest. There is also brick there that holds the heat. Our tomatoes have done wonderfully there, even though the last couple of years have been “bad years for tomatoes”! Beans and squashes also like it hot.Peas like it cold, so plant them as early in the spring as you can get them in. Once it gets hot, most peas will just stop bearing. Most of the cabbage family also likes it cold, so needs to also be planted pretty early. …..I’m sure Phil will give you lots more help!

  9. Patton on January 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Organic veggies is the big one. Staying in touch with the outdoors and exercise are others. I also get real satisfaction from successfully growing things.

  10. tom on January 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Love all the comments, to me, it seams to be the continual affirmation and daily realization of my oneness with all of creation.

  11. Rosemary on January 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    For food I really know is organic and healthy for me! To gets my hands in the dirt. To connect to God! Basically the reasons you listed

  12. RobinP on January 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I garden because it’s my passion. I can’t imagine life without gardening. I can’t wait to get out and get my hands in the earth as soon as possible in the spring, to feel connected to the earth, to see the miracle of a plant growing from a tiny seed. I guess I also garden for my senses — the colors, textures, smells, etc. of the garden. It’s also fun to try new varieties of vegetables and fruits, to see how different, for example, one type of carrot tastes from another.

  13. JJM123 on January 3, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    For the satisfaction of filling the table with foods that nature and I have grown with minimal reliance on others.To enjoy the flavor and health benefits of fresh herbs added to fresh vegies.To better learn techniques of what I ignored while plowing, discing, tilling, planting, tending and harvesting as a child. To understand the efforts our ancestors experienced to survive.To learn the various ways to preserve a bounty for consumption months later.

  14. karen saville on January 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    My husband needed a hobby, so I’m leading him in how to fix the dirt on our little city lot. He loves to tell his friends and family how we don’t use fertilize on our lawn and how we’ve turned around the health of the soil going organic. I’m very excited for 2015 (seeing what EM did for my yard in 2014) – I got the compost tea brewer from the organic gardeners pantry of Christmas! Woohoo!

  15. Russ Klettke on January 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    What a sweetly written piece, Phil. Words to live (and garden) by.I am blessed with both an interior (private) garden and a wrap-around parkway garden that forms an elongated, 130’x29′ L-shape around my house and a rental 2-flat on an urban corner lot in Chicago. My interior garden is where I can grow greens, beans, chives and herbs, negotiating the tricky and changing nature of partial sun across the months of May through October. It’s just off my kitchen, and because I work from home I can harvest part of my lunch for several months of the growing season.My exterior garden is for the hundred or so people who walk by on the sidewalk every day, as well as birds, bees, bats, toads, squirrels and rabbits (etc.) that find food, water, insects to eat and places to lay their eggs. It is largely planted with a variety of prairie grasses and pollinator flowers. About six years ago, a clump of sunflowers volunteered themselves and for several years running, I’ve used some seeds to plant them anew each spring. Last year the largest grew 15′ high. Because my house sits close to the sidewalk, I almost daily hear children and their parents remark on the size of those sunflowers (which receive no fertilizer beyond compost-produced soil). As I tend the garden, people stop by to chat. It’s that community engagement in the exterior parkway that I perhaps enjoy the most.

  16. bobking17 on January 3, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    It’s a pretty inexpensive hobby when compared to many others.Gardening has a calming affect and it does help me to be more centered while in the garden, doing all the things that help those seeds and seedlings grow into big, beautiful fruit bearing plants. It is a simple pleasure that I’ve come to love.Brene Brown has helped me to begin to understand some of the attitudes that have held me back in some important relationships. I think anyone can relate to what she has to say to some degree. I first saw her on TedTalks and then read one of her books. and am reading a book she recommended now.Bye the way, you book “Building soils Naturally” is a very good one in my opinion. It all starts with the soil and nutrients.

  17. fcannon on January 3, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    While I receive food for my body from it, the garden itself actually nourishes my soul. While I may plant many of the same things, I don’t garden the same now as I did when I was younger. Back then I planted tomatoes simply because I wanted fresh tomatoes to eat. Yes there was the satisfaction and pleasure of eating something that I had grown and nurtured myself, but there wasn’t any real connection to the earth. The garden was something I planted only to serve me, I felt no obligation to or any responsibility for the environment or any other creature except myself in the tending of my garden. What a foolish and self-centered young man I was back then. Fortunately I’ve learned and grown and evolved as the years have passed and I’ve come to realize and recognize my position as a servant, steward, at times even a guardian of my little portion of this earth. Primun non nocere, first, do no harm, applies equally to the gardener as it does to the physician and I’ve adopted it as my credo. I now plant things that will nourish the earth and the creatures that live in it as well as myself. I also plant for the creatures that creep, wiggle, crawl, walk or fly thru my little space. By providing for them, they improve my enjoyment, increase my harvest and the effects ripple outward for the benefit of others. As I’m planning my new garden spaces I’m trying to create a feast for my eyes as well as my body. In the restaurant business, plating and presentation is of primary importance, because it’s said we eat first with our eyes before we put that first bite in our mouth. I want to bring that same sensibility to my garden spaces.

  18. Brian Michael Shea on January 3, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    very nice article Phil. There are so many reasons why I garden. I’ve ventured into food growing, with so so to no success(but I’m stubborn,so I’m going to keep trying! I want my mango to fruit!!! LOL), I’ve been more successful growing flowers and foliage plants. One reason is creativity, gardening is like sculpture, painting, and architecture all rolled into one, consisting of living things! my mind is constantly thinking of new gardens, every grass filled yard i pass. Another is the sensual aspects, the colors, fragrances, textures, the wind and sun. Getting fresh air and being outdoors. And contact with the soil/earth is so grounding. It always makes me feel alright. Even when I feel lazy some times and I don’t feel like gardening, when I make myself do it, I’m always glad I did, and I often don’t want to stop. I just feel right outdoors in the garden. On a more intellectual level, the miracle of soil biology, and the interaction of plant, mineral, and animal life is awe inspiring to me. It also makes me feel like I’m more a part of nature. I love getting something to bloom, sprout, or fruit. I always want to try new plants. I also like that other people get pleasure out of my garden, and yes, I do like the compliments.

  19. Mike_H on January 3, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    There is a simple pleasure in walking out the door and picking fresh herbs, lettuce, beans or whatever that youhave grown yourself.

  20. tom on January 4, 2015 at 12:25 am

    To be amazed how a seed can produce such life in a short amount of time, reminding me of the cycle of life in all things. To know that what I grow will have a positive impact on my life. I just love being outside in touch with nature and taking in all it has to offer me.

  21. Pete singh on January 6, 2015 at 3:18 am

    It gives me great pleasure doing gardening in my back yard. After learning from You I really can grow any thing and everything. Before I couldn’t even grow tomatoes in my back yard. Now I am starting to build rain gutter growing system, all organic

  22. GayleS on January 6, 2015 at 4:16 am

    I can control what’s used as fertilizers, pest control and soil amendments. Yes it’s easier to just go buy vegetables, but I like the taste of fresh food and trying different vegetables I’ve never had before, like Red Russian kale. I grow it every year now and never had eaten it before. Love it!

  23. Phil on January 8, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Wow, thanks to everyone for the deep, insightful, often poetic comments. I have much to learn from all of you. While food was high on most of your lists, it’s clear there are spiritual and emotional sides to gardening that transcend the plants themselves.

  24. Freedom321 on January 9, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    I love being able to go out to my garden and pick the next meal, or most of it! I love knowing that it is free of chemicals and as fresh as possible. So to have fresh, organic food readily available whenever I want it is my number one reason. Secondly, similar to yours, is the therapy it provides. I love the connection with the earth, and what it does for me. I love watching things grow. One other reason, as I’m trying to do more winter gardening, with cold frames, is to have more fresh veggies available for more of the year, and to grow more cold weather veggies. Kale is sooo sweet in the winter! And even though there are some farms around that are starting to do winter gardening, and bringing their wares to the farmer’s market, our local market is only once a month January through May. So I just want to be able to provide more of these for my family during the winter and early spring months.

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