Ahh, springtime. Lots of things are in the air: love, pollen, and change—to name a few. Spring is a great time to try new things, maybe even a new hobby. With the rise of technology and our ever-increasing sedentary lifestyles, fewer and fewer people actually enjoy (or even engage in) meaningful hobbies.

If you’re looking for something fun to fill your time that’s rewarding, healthy, and tasty, then you might want to take up gardening. This is the time of year to get started! And you might be surprised to learn that there are multiple health benefits to planting a garden.

When is the best time to plant a garden?

Traditionally, springtime is the best. It depends on where you live—the climate and the weather of your state will impact your start date. You want to make sure that the last frost is over so that your tiny shoots won’t be killed by the cold before they have a chance to grow. You can check the optimal times to start planting on this website.

What are the Benefits of Gardening?

Whether you’ve got a green thumb or know next to nothing about growing plants, the benefits of gardening apply to everyone.

1. Eat Organic Food

Let’s face it: organic food isn’t always the cheapest option at the grocery store. And even if you do buy organic food, you can’t always be sure how pure it is. But if you grow your own food at home, you get to decide which soil to use and how to care for your produce. You can trust the source because you picked out the source!

Organic food is a better choice for your brain and body because it is not grown with pesticides and other toxins that can wreak havoc on your health. In fact, studies show that children exposed to certain types of pesticides are twice as likely as other children to have ADHD.1

Compared with conventional foods, organic foods are higher in antioxidants and lower in a toxic metal known as cadmium.2  What you put into your body matters. After all, you are what you eat.

2. Get Vitamin D

Have you ever noticed your mood lifting as the winter cold wears off and the warmth of springtime begins? It might be, at least in part, because you’re spending more time outside and getting a nice dose of sunshine.

Spending time in direct sunlight is the most efficient way for your body to synthesize vitamin D. And Vitamin D is an essential nutrient in preventing a host of diseases, including depression and anxiety. So, when you’re working in your garden, roll up your sleeves and catch some rays while you’re at it.

3. Reduce Stress

Being outside has a strong calming effect, especially for those of us who are stuck in an office all day. In fact, gardening can reduce stress by lowering stress hormone levels (mainly cortisol) in the body.3  Being physically active has numerous documented health benefits, as it releases neurotransmitters, strengthens muscles, and improves flexibility.

Plus, enjoying the outdoors is a natural way to take a break from our devices, which can keep us trapped in negative mental spaces. Leave your phone inside while you’re in the garden.

4. Save Money

Although this isn’t a physical health benefit, saving money can help with the mental and emotional stress caused by financial problems. And after your initial investment in starting a garden, there’s very little cost to maintaining it! Year after year, you can re-use the same structures and tools to contribute to grow food.

And you might end up with more produce than you know what to do with. Your garden can produce up to half a pound per square foot each season.4 If you plan things right, you can eat fresh veggies from your backyard for months—throughout the summer and well into the fall. This will end up saving you lots of trips to the grocery store and money spent on fruits, veggies, and even flowers (if you decide to plant some).

5. Spend Time With People

You might enjoy gardening for the solo time it offers (especially if you’re an introvert), but it’s also a great way to spend time with other people. If you have kids, use the task of building and maintaining a garden to get them off their screens, enjoying the outdoors, and doing something with their hands.

As your garden starts to produce, you might end up with more food than you know what to do with. So bring some to your neighbors! It’s a great way to spread some love in your community and form friendships with people who you don’t otherwise see very often. Better yet, cook an extra big meal and invite your neighbors or friends over to share the feast from your garden together.

6. A Sense of Accomplishment

Everyone enjoys creating something of value. It’s a huge boost to our mood, our outlook on life, and our sense of self-sufficiency. A garden gives you the perfect space to build and grow something. Even better, you get the added benefit of eating what you’ve made! Through gardening, you can literally get a taste of success.

Here at Alleviant, we believe in integrated health: that your mental health cannot be separated from your physical, emotional, or spiritual health. Incredibly, gardening is a pastime that benefits all of these areas of health. So, we encourage you—if there’s any spark of interest in giving it a shot—go for it!

And if you already DO garden and enjoy time in the dirt, let us know in the comments about the ways it has added value to your life.