I recently asked my 4-year-old son what his favorite part of growing up on a farm is and he replied:
“Playing in the soil. Eating carrots and spinach.”
Of course, in full 4-year-old style, he acted each thing out charades-like before actually saying the words. (We introduced him to charades this winter, and it’s now one of his favorite things to play, often to the detriment of dinner. Just as we sit down to eat, he pops up to act something out).
I didn’t grow up on a farm, but we did have a vegetable garden. It eventually morphed into a flower garden, but I still remember the wonder and excitement of pulling a carrot from the soil. I must have been 5 or 6 the first time I grasped the green top and pulled a root free, holding it high to show my parents.
To this day, carrots are one of my favorite crops to harvest and eat.
Maybe you don’t like carrots. That’s okay, you don’t have to grow them. But you should grow an organic garden.
Growing organic is easy—all it means is that you grow using soil, seeds, water, and sunlight. You might add some compost or seaweed fertilizer to give the plants a boost, but other than that there aren’t many inputs needed.
Now, everyone will tell you the same reasons why you should grow an organic garden: you’ll get fresh food, eat healthier, and be healthier by spending more time outside. You might even find it relaxing.
But there’s more to it than that. And if you haven’t yet picked up a hoe and some seeds, these just might give you a reason to turn your thumb green.
3 Reasons Why Everyone Should Grow an Organic Garden:
1. Talking About the Weather is No Longer an Awkward Conversation Filler
Talking about the weather gets a really bad rap. Something to say when there’s nothing else. But once you become an organic gardener, the weather becomes a totally valid conversation topic.
If it’s too dry, too wet, too cold, too hot, or just perfect, the weather affects your garden everyday. So now, instead of awkwardly saying, “so how about all that rain?” you have a point of connection:
“Geez, my tomatoes aren’t so happy with all this rain, but the lettuce is really holding up. What’s going on in your garden?”
“It’s been too hot to weed during the day! So I’ve just been going swimming instead, and gardening in the evening. How are you managing with this heat?”
Who knows, you might end up with an invitation to dinner from someone who’s tomatoes are doing just fine; or you might get the scoop on a private swimming hole. Thank your garden in advance for turning your awkward exchanges into enjoyable conversations.
2. Grow Money
Heirloom tomatoes sell at the farmers market for $5 – $6 per pound. Big beefsteaks can weigh up 3 lbs. That’s an $18 tomato! Just one tomato! Albeit a delicious one, but still.
A packet of organic tomato seeds, on the other hand, comes with about 30 seeds and costs around $3. For 0.10 cents a seed, you can grow an entire plant filled with heirloom tomatoes.
It’s basically like growing money. That you can eat. Which is so much better than money itself. (Money may buy you a trip to the farmers market, but it never makes a conversation less awkward).
And the best part? You don’t even need an entire garden plot for tomatoes! If you don’t have a plot of land to cultivate, you can grow tomatoes (and much more) in containers on your porch.
All of the sudden “seed money” takes on a whole new meaning…
3. Impress Your Friends
I spent a year running a school garden in inner city Fairbanks, AK, where most kids didn’t know what a carrot looked like when it was growing. Through the summer, I led a camp/job-training program for students, many of whom were enticed by the small stipend provided by the non-profit I worked for.
These kids, mostly between 10-14, went from bringing McDonald’s as a snack to making raw spinach “tacos”, stuffing spinach leaves with sliced radish, carrot, and basil.
They went from being unable to identify vegetables to excitedly leading tours of adults and kids through the garden, pointing out every crop and describing the flavors of each.
They went from being passive eaters to engaged growers, able to talk about how long it takes for 1” of soil to form on the earth’s crust, how long grassroots can be, and what exactly a kohlrabi is.
By the time school was back in session, the student gardeners who grew all summer impressed their friends by boldly eating nasturtium flowers and demonstrating how to turn compost without squirming.
Of course, behind the excitement of impressing their friends was a transformation in themselves. And it can happen for you, too, whether you’re 13 or 30 or 67.
Just remember that I warned you: if you grow a garden, if you transform seeds into vegetables and fruit, you’ll transform yourself in some way, too. It may be small at first, but eventually you’ll bloom.
And that bloom will definitely impress your friends 😉
All cheekiness aside, I’d love to know why you garden. In the comments below, tell me your top reason for gardening. If you’ve never gardened before, are you going to give it a shot now?
Do you know someone who’d enjoy this article? Share it with them—it’s like compost for their mind, and will surely give them a boost of growth for the coming season.