My Vegetable Garden, Good For My Physical And Mental Health
Updated: Aug 1
As a busy stay at home Mum who struggles to get out of the house much, I take a great deal of pleasure from my vegetable garden. There are so many amazing benefits to having your own veggie patch, both for you physical and your mental health.
I know not everyone will have the space for a large vegetable garden, but there are ways you can still grow veggies at home and reap a number of the rewards without needing a lot of space. Many of the smallest units or apartments would still be able to accommodate a small raised garden bed or garden box.
In boxes like this you can grow vegetables or herbs, all of which are super handy in the kitchen but you can also just grow flowers if you are wanting to add a little colour to your house and help feed a few bees along the way too. I'm very fortunate to have some large raised garden beds in my vegetable garden which allow me a lot of space to grow many different plants. Some of my favourite vegetables to grow are:
sugar snap peas
The obvious benefit of having your own vegetable garden is having so many tasty veggies right at your back door. I find this cuts down on costs at the supermarket but also cuts down on waste. In general, I only pick the veggies as I need them, or as close too. This means they aren't sitting in my fridge all week after having been in transit and the supermarket shelves for an unknown amount of time. Even if I pick them in advance, they last much longer because they are fresh, straight from the garden. This means I don't throw out as much as I used to, like wilted lettuce that just couldn't quite last the distance. It's also great if you grow a little more than you can use to share with friends and family too.
Physical Health Benefits:
There are a number of physical health benefits to having a vegetable garden, and the first one comes before you've even grown anything. Just setting it up allows you to reap the physical benefit of being outside in the fresh air, doing some form of physical activity. More often than not, if I am in the veggie patch for a while, I will manage to work up a sweat. Digging, weeding, watering, fertilizing, it might not seem all that strenuous but it has you moving about and up off the couch, and these days I feel like a lot of us (me definitely included) could use more motivation for this.
As a stay at home mum with chronic health problems and a child with their own health problems, getting out of the house can be extremely daunting and exhausting. Having my vegetable garden at the very least encourages me outside every day to check on my ever growing and changing garden. My son loves it too, he especially likes it when I pick beans and sugar snap peas for him to chew on while we are outside, fresh from the garden. This gets both of us out into the fresh air and out of the stuffy house.
The other major physical health benefit is all the amazing produce you can get from your garden. I love experimenting with new plants to see what I can get to grow and then finding ways to use different vegetables I have on tap in my cooking. I find it encourages me to use even more vegetables than I would have and find ways to see how much goodness I can pack into a meal for my family. It also increases the variety of nutrients we are getting as well rather than buying the same boring vegetables at the supermarket every week.
One of the easiest plants to grow and to hide in so many different meals is silverbeet. It grows spectacular crops and I put it in so many different meals, pretty much anything I'm cooking on the stove will have hidden silverbeet in it, pasta sauce, taco meat, curry, stir fry. It is has so many good vitamins and minerals in it such as; magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin K, potassium, vitamin A, dietary fiber, and vitamin E. You could also add a little fresh into your morning smoothie for a an extra whack of goodness. Here's my recipe for Vegetable Muffins, a healthy and tasty way to hide those vegetables.
Mental Health Benefits:
Something I have learned, especially now that I don't go out to work everyday, its to not underestimate the benefit of even five minutes outside. Spending all day inside, whether with the blinds are up or down, whether the windows are open or closed, is not good for your mental health, short or long term. Taking a walk out into the backyard, whether it's on my own during my son's nap or with my son, helps clear the cobwebs from my brain. It's great to take a walk around the garden and teach him new words, but the veggie patch means I always have an excuse to go out there, and some days you need an excuse to motivate yourself to move, at least I do.
There's always something small that can be done in the garden, whether it's pull up the few stray weeds that have appeared, or pick some of the ripe fruit and veggies you've managed to cultivate. The sunshine and fresh air are all good for helping you feel good. Here is an interesting article on the health benefits of going alfresco to help convince you if I haven't already.
For me, personally, I find that a taking a moment outside makes me feel more refreshed and helps to stave off cabin fever. I also feel so satisfied by being able to produce a garden full of healthy food, I get so excited watching my little plants grow and eventually produce fruit or vegetables.
As my son grows, my vegetable garden is definitely something I want to share with him so he can get all the benefits from it that I'm already getting. Teaching children where food comes from and allowing them to pick their own is also great for there development. Here is a link with more information on Gardening for Children.
Honestly, the only downside comes on the days where you feel like you have no energy to tend to the garden and in all honestly, you don't have to check it every day, but those are probably the days you would benefit even more from going outside for a short walk in the fresh air.
If you're interested in hearing more about the different things I grow in my garden send me a message and I'll be sure to write more. I'll be posting more recipes with ways to hide all those wonderful vegetables, chocked full of goodness, into meals your children will be sure to eat as well so be sure to subscribe below. Thanks for reading!