When I think of gardening, I picture aged ladies in big hats and frilly gloves gently nipping blooms from their roses; or that’s how it use to be. I guess I just assumed, because I do almost all the gardening in my house, that men just don’t want to get their hands dirty or they thought it was a “women’s job” to plant the garden. Yes, I know! I can hear all the moaning and groaning from all the men out there reading this article. I’m big enough to admit I was wrong and lots of men love to garden; just not any I have ever spent time with! Hmm… that should have told me something.
Well, men, if you aren’t already gardening, there are plenty of reasons to be doing so and it seems you will find that some of the most celebrated gardeners of our time have been men. There are all sorts of reasons that men should garden, or at least help their wives garden and at the same time teach your children the art of gardening. Let’s make this a family affair.
Reason #1: You know what you are eating.
There are an increasing number of people who focus on eating organically or naturally produced food. That’s well and good, but just because it says organic doesn’t mean that it’s any healthier. Growing your own food will assure you that your food is organic. Plus, the rules for “certified organic” might not be as stringent as you think.
Reason #2: You can save money on food.
There’s a reason that after the economic collapse in 2008, home food gardening increased by over 30% by some estimates. Growing your own fruits and veggies can not only put more green in your fridge and your diet, it can also put more green in your wallet. It is much more economical to grow a hundred heads of lettuce from a seed packet that costs $2 than it is to buy one head of lettuce for $2.
Reason #3: It can attract/impress a mate.
Invite your “someone special” over for a romantic, home-cooked candlelight dinner, and you are sure to impress. Tell your date that you grew the tomato and herbs in the pasta sauce and it will be the icing on the cake. Finish dinner with some home-grown strawberries and you’ve hit the ball out of the park. Gardening demonstrates skill and dedication, and shows that you’ll be able to provide for your future family beyond simply bringing home the bacon.
Reason #4: It can make you more self-sufficient.
Sure, right now obtaining food is as easy as going down to the big box store and grabbing whatever you want off the shelf. But what if some kind catastrophe cut off that steady food supply? Would you have even the foggiest idea as to how to start growing your own grub? Even if the zombie apocalypse is a ways off, it is really satisfying to know that you don’t have to totally rely on distant producers for your food, and that you have the skill-set to turn seeds into sustenance.
Reason #5: Gardening is great exercise.
Perhaps the closest you’ve come to gardening is being a couch potato. Or maybe your idea of health is working on your six-pack abs. Either way; gardening can be a fun way to get in some exercise. Planting, cultivating, harvesting, and lifting are all activities that give you a moderate amount of exercise. You can burn off pounds and increase your health all while growing some tasty grub.
Reason #6: Gardening works as therapy/meditation.
Does life wear you down? Are you stressed? Gardening can be a great way to find inner peace and concentration, clearing out all of the competing thoughts that life brings us. Plus, there’s no better cure for frustration than digging holes or destroying weeds.
Reason #7: Gardening will reconnect you to nature.
We are talking actually getting out of the house/office/parent’s basement and experiencing the great outdoors. It used to be that humans functioned with the natural seasonal cycles, especially when it came to food. Since we have access to fresh produce the whole year at the grocery store, we’ve lost some connection to the seasons and the natural flow of the earth.
This is going to be fun; trust me. Transform your plots of grass into gardens bursting with herbs, vegetables, and fruit and it has been proven that people who grow their own food pay more attention to their own health. Before you start planting your NEW garden this year, make a plan, in the northern hemisphere, southern exposure provides plants with the most light. Keep that reality in mind as you begin "drawing" your garden onsite with stakes and string.
What are your favourite vegetables? Potatoes, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, lettuce, and carrots are the vegetables I plant in my garden every single year. I seem to have the best luck with these. I also plant parsley, rosemary, sage, basil and dill. The first year with a new garden, plant everything that produces food in your climate zone, to see what grows best, and you'll learn your personal preferences you might want to have more herbs and fewer vegetables. Try to plant with both a short and long-term strategy in mind.
Have fun with your garden. It is not a chore, but a gift; use your imagination. It will make you and your family feels proud watching the labour of your love as your little plants push their way through to life.
And remember, the glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. ~Alfred Austin
Author: Kathryn Hartwell
References: artofmanliness.com and menshealth.com