gardening: fresh food and fitness for the entire family

This is a guest post from Fixitdads. Rob reached out to me via email and requested to do a guest post. If you would like to do a guest post on Health Buddy Melissa, please use the contact form at the end of the post to message me. The image is his and he agreed that he had permission to use it. Enjoy and Happy Monday! Ya’ll know I love gardening!

Gardening: Fresh Food and Fitness For The Entire Family

Are you looking for ways to be at your healthiest? If so, exercising and eating more vegetables is a great place to start. Fortunately, you don’t need a gym or your neighborhood supermarket’s produce section. All you need is willpower, perseverance, and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

Exercise Made Easy

When you want to eat healthier and exercise, gardening can help you do both. Not only is gardening an exceptional workout, but it also gives you an opportunity to know where your food comes from and to control what goes into your body. By gardening, you can potentially burn 300 calories or more per hour, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of sunshine and fresh air. And if that’s not enough, you can save up to $2,400 each year simply by digging in the dirt, planting seeds, and cultivating your own food.

One way to figure out how much activity you’re getting and how much you are eating is to download activity and calorie-tracking apps on your smartphone. These can show you where you’re falling short. Many apps can even help you set up your own fitness routine to compensate.

Growing a Garden

If you’ve never had a particularly green thumb, plan to start small. It can be intimidating to jump headfirst into everything from peppers to potatoes, so grab a few containers and make a list of your favorite herbs. Backyard Eden notes that rosemary is an easy-to-grow perennial that can be started straight from cuttings. Likewise, cilantro, which is a staple in Mexican cooking, grows well in much of the country and can add a bit of complexity to your favorite dishes.

When herbs in small containers simply won’t do, evaluate your backyard. You’ll need an area that gets at least eight hours of sunlight if you plan to grow tomatoes and peppers, six hours for things like carrots and potatoes, and about four hours for Swiss chard and other leafy green vegetables. Farm & Garden DIY notes they also need to pay attention to where the sunlight hits your yard so that you know what time of day each location receives sunlight. This is because UV rays are weaker in the morning and stronger in the evening.

Soil quality is just as important, so make sure to test for pH levels before you decide what vegetables to plant or how you’ll add nutrients to ensure a healthy harvest. As warm weather nears, you can then prepare the ground by tilling to a depth of up to 18 inches. If possible, prepare the ground in the fall, which water hose maker Gilmour says requires cardboard and grass clippings or organic composts.

Deciding when exactly to start planting is a matter of knowing your hardiness zone and deciding if you are going to plant from seedlings or from existing plants, which you can often pick up at local farms. Lettuce, green beans, cucumbers, squash, peppers, and tomatoes are among the easiest and healthiest additions to your first gardening season.

Reap Broader Benefits

Your new garden can be a great source of exercise and a delight for your tastebuds — taco salad, anyone? But why not add eye appeal to the mix? Keeping curb appeal in mind is smart,  especially if there is any chance you might be putting your home on the market in the near future.

Consider designs that work well with your landscaping by incorporating elements and textures from your permanent structures. If you have a rock retaining wall, maybe build raised beds that match. If your pathways wind through the yard, consider undulating lines instead of straight ones. By creating an aesthetically pleasing garden, you can raise the value of your property. Just make sure you save the receipts to show the appraiser later on.

Ultimately, growing your own food is not only an excellent way to ensure you and your family eat well, but it’s also a great workout. You can reach your fitness and nutrition goals by spending a little more time outside and letting Mother Nature bring the produce section to you. Good luck in your gardening quest, and may you eat well the whole year through.

Image via Pexels