I grew up visiting Jamaica during the summers. My uncles were butchers, and my aunts grew produce to sell and for the family to enjoy. We always had fresh fruits and vegetables, like yams, bananas, and mangoes. They even harvested almonds. Depending on the season, some of the fruits didn’t make it out of the garden and onto the table. We would eat them as soon as we picked them! For the rest of the year, I lived in NYC, where fruit and vegetable gardens were rare. We had several community gardens, which helped fuel my love of gardening into motherhood. I learned gardening for self care by watching the women before me tend to the crops and their needs. 

Gardening For Self Care

And then, I started my first garden on my apartment fire escape. I started this garden as a way to escape from the daily grind. It was an act of radical self-care at the time because I was young, working on Wall Street, and stressed out. I grew tomatoes, peppers, and herbs and enjoyed cooking my meals using what I grew. Now that I’m a mom, my garden provides beauty through flowers, fresh fruits, and vegetables for my family. It is once again my space to unwind. It is an act of self-care for me and even my children, a labor of love that teaches so many lessons. Every chance I get, I encourage moms to grow a garden. It doesn’t have to be big. You only need a few pots or a sunny window sill. Even an indoor oasis of houseplants will do wonders for you. 

5 reasons to garden for self care 5 Reasons You Should Start Gardening For Self Care 

Eat Healthy

Growing your own food is a great way to ensure you and your family have healthy choices to incorporate into your diets. Healthy food, water, and exercise are pillars of self-care. If you’re unsure if you have a green thumb, I recommend starting with a tomato plant. Homegrown tomatoes convince many moms to keep going. Tomatoes can grow in pots depending on the variety. Herbs are another great first-time option. You can literally grow herbs on your windowsill. 

Reduce Stress 

Gardening is well known to reduce stress and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. There is something about caring for plants that immediately takes me to another place. I spend a few moments in the garden before starting my day. I also like to end my day sitting in my garden to unwind. Medical professionals have found that gardening can make you feel more peaceful and content. You can also meditate and practice mindfulness. Clear your thoughts and focus on your breathing. Take time to slow down from the business of being a single mom and literally stop and smell the roses. Be sure to keep your phone inside or on silent mode to avoid distractions.

Spending this time outside can help regulate your emotions and expose you to Vitamin D through the sunshine. According to research, Vitamin D deficiency presents similar symptoms to those of depression. 

Mommy & Me Time 

When children plant a seed in the soil, see it sprout, and eventually produce fruit, they are amazed. This is a wonderful way to feed your family and bring you closer together in a calming way. I tell new gardeners with children to let them plant the seeds. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What’s meant to grow will grow. I find that gardening with my children helps me to remove the crazy expectations we sometimes put on ourselves. Let your kids play in the dirt, make mud pies and spray each other with the hose while watering the plants. Take it even further by letting your kids help you prepare meals based on your harvest. 

Gardening with kids is still self care for the whole family. Exercise 

You may be doing some heavy lifting depending on what you’re growing or where. Even walking around and caring for your plants gets you moving. If you don’t have space for a garden at home, join a community garden. If it’s close to your home, the walk to and from plus the work weeding, digging, and raking all count as exercise. 

Get Social 

Once I started my current garden, I joined several online and local gardening groups. I also became a member of our local botanical garden. These groups often hold meetups and classes. It is an excellent way for moms to find a low-key social option. Your local agricultural option is also a great way to get immersed in the gardening community. 

Local Gardening Resources 

Grow Pittsburgh is a local organization that supports new gardeners of all ages. Ready to start your own garden in a pot, patio, or backyard? The Allegheny County Garden Hotline, run by local Master Gardeners, is a great resource for getting started. If you want to attract birds, butterflies, and animals to your garden, the National Wildlife Federation offers tips on gardening for wildlife.