This weekend is Tomatopalooza – our annual celebration of all things tomato – so it’s a great time to talk about the benefits of growing your own tomatoes and veggies as a part of your garden.
The most obvious reason to grow your own food is taste. Yes, there is an abundance of produce in grocery stores, but nothing will thrill your taste buds like homegrown food. Remember, it takes a long time for tomatoes and veggies to be harvested, shipped and distributed – plus you don’t know how long they’ve been on the shelf at your local store by the time you buy them. By contrast, the food you grow only has to make the short journey from your garden to your kitchen, and that freshness makes it more delicious and nutritious.
When you cultivate your own food, you also have more control of what goes in and on your food. Typically, you don’t know what commercial growers are using. You, on the other hand, determine what goes into your garden soil to amend it and what types of treatments you use to deal with bugs or other plant issues.
You’ll also avoid other uncertainties about the food you eat. Remember the romaine lettuce recall from last year because of e-coli contamination? Not something you have to worry about with your homegrown veggies.
Then there’s the benefits that extend to all sorts of gardening, whether it’s flowers or food. Time out in the sunshine gives you vitamin D. You increase your physical activity, but it doesn’t seem like a grind because you are playing in the dirt. There’s also a lot of evidence that microorganisms in the soil (specifically something called Mycobacterium vaccae) triggers the release of serotonin in our brains, which is yet another reason why gardening can make you happy.
If you have small children, make sure they are a part of cultivating your tomato and veggie garden. First of all, it’s a great activity to share with them. It will teach them about biology and responsibility and patience. It’s also likely that if you child helps you grow a veggie garden, he or she will be more motivated to eat their vegetables. A few years ago, food researchers at Ohio State and Cornell universities found that children are five times more likely to eat salad when they have grown it themselves.
If you have any questions about growing tomatoes or vegetables (or anything else in your garden), please stop by the nursery and ask. We’d love to help you cultivate a terrific garden that’s full of good eats.