Nobel-prize winning author John Steinbeck once wrote, “There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.” From spading the soil to planting the seeds, to nurturing the plants, to harvesting the resulting fruits, vegetables or flowers, the process of starting and maintaining your own garden can have immeasurable benefits for the mind, body, and soul.

Learn a New Skill

So maybe you don’t exactly have a green thumb; maybe you always forget to water that desk plant you bought last spring, or the flowerbed in your front yard is overrun with weeds. That doesn’t mean you can’t acquire the skills needed to tend a garden. Like anything else in life, it just requires a little practice and dedication and that thumb of yours will start changing colors before you know it.

Save Money

Although startup expenses can be a deterrent, a longtime commitment to growing your own fruits and vegetables can make its mark on your grocery bill. Freezing or canning your harvest can help extend the shelf life of your produce to help you save year-round.

Avoid Chemicals

There’s a certain peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly where your food came from and how it was treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 29 pesticides in the average American’s body. Growing your own produce is one way to help yourself come in below that average.

Eat Healthier

Don’t tell me you’re going to grow all these beautiful fruits and vegetables and not eat them. Studies have shown that people who grow their own produce are more likely to eat healthier. After all, once you’ve had a perfectly ripe tomato fresh off the vine, greasy fast food just doesn’t have the same appeal.

Locally Grown is Better For You

Produce begins to lose its nutritional value the second it’s picked. That’s not to say store-bought produce has no nutritional value, but broccoli can lose up to half it’s vitamin C on the journey from truck to store shelf to fridge than it does when it goes straight from the garden to your kitchen table.

Share the Love

You’d be surprised how much your friends, neighbors, and coworkers might appreciate some spare peppers. Sharing your harvest doesn’t only improve your relationships with these people, but also encourages them to eat healthier and try new dishes that feature your ingredients.

Get Moving

It’s pretty difficult to grow a garden from the couch in the living room. Not only does gardening get you more sun exposure for some much-needed vitamin D, but three hours of gardening can burn as many calories as an hour at the gym. Why pump iron when you could be aerating a garden?

Make it a Family Affair

Working a garden together can be a great way to bond as a family. Plus, it’s a great way to get kids away from their electronic devices and connected with nature. Kids are also more likely to try more fruits and vegetables if they’ve been exposed to gardening.

Zen Out

Everybody has to deal with stress. Whether you need to reduce your road rage from your morning commute or calm your nerves for an upcoming presentation at work, stepping away from all the bells and whistles of modern technology to enjoy the great outdoors can work wonders for your mental well-being.

Reap What You Sow

There’s an unquantifiable satisfaction that comes with reaping the fruits of your own labor—especially when those fruits are literal fruits. Basking in the achievement of your own hard work is something we could all use a little more of.

Corinna Henderson