Does reading about yet another food recall make you want to grow more of your own produce? Whether you have a large yard, a small apartment balcony, or something in between, you can grow a variety of vegetables and herbs.  You may even discover that you have a passion for gardening—and an unexpected green thumb! Here are seven reasons—some not so obvious—to start a vegetable garden this spring.

1. No more chemicals – Growing your own garden from organic seeds or starter plants ensures there are no chemicals in your produce.

2.  Growing kids – Most children love to help plant, weed, water, and eat fresh produce. By getting their hands dirty, they’ll learn to identify and care for plants, and they’ll love to watch them grow. Gardening may even inspire picky eaters to try more vegetables.

3. Fresh herbs for every meal – Fresh herbs can make a meal taste like it’s from a high class restaurant. Talk about farm-to-table! You can literally pinch a bunch of herbs and toss them on your meal right before you eat. There’s nothing better than fresh from the garden.

4. Cooking inspiration – Your garden might inspire you to cook fresh options instead of grabbing take out or preparing a meal from a box. You may even find yourself making the recipes you see on Pinterest instead of just pinning them!

5. Discover a new hobby. Once you try it, you may fall in love with gardening. It’s very grounding to be outdoors, surrounded by nature in bloom. Even balcony gardening is a relaxing and satisfying way to spend your time.

6. Save money. Studies show that for every dollar you spend on seeds and supplies, you get back double in food.

7. Improve your diet.  When you have easy access to lettuce and tomatoes, you’ll likely make more salads or add them to sandwiches. When there are cucumbers growing outside, you’ll add them to a snack platter.  And, trust me, you’ll discover countless ways to make zucchini once you have a few foot-long ones growing in your garden!

Some of the easiest vegetables and herbs to grow include:

  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini (this requires adequate space)
  • Rhubarb
  • Chives
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Cucumber

Whether you start small or go all out, find some gardening websites and pick up a book or two. Follow advice for the right soil to use and choose your favorite vegetables to start. You may have missed the key planting time for some vegetables, depending on where you live, but that’s okay. By late summer or early fall you will have a bounty to enjoy—and to give friends and family, who will love them too!