Gardening is as Spartan as it gets. Here’s why.

As DIY as it gets. Is gardening punk rock? If not, it should be.

They tell me that it’s a British trait, or more specifically, an English one.

It seems that as far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a fascination for gardening, specifically vegetables and flowers. All the mowing grass and weeding nonsense isn’t gardening. That’s a punishment sent along by whichever evil deity commands the gardening underworld.

But the “English gardener” seems to be a cliché and a horribly accurate stereotype that actually finds its target. According to, it is estimated that the UK is home to an estimated 27 million gardeners.

Consider that the entire population fluctuates around the 63 million mark and you have the fascinating statistic that almost one in every two people in the UK will spend their weekends in and around garden centers, walking up and down aisle after aisle of Clematis, Geraniums and various kinds of ferns.

They need that shady spot filling; ferns and hostas will do just lovely.

See? It’s like a natural reflex for an Englishman. It’s a Pavlovian reflex. No, really, it is.

So what’s this got to do with training or running a Spartan Race? Am I going to send out a call to arms that all racers run around the course with armfuls of marigolds and engage in some companion planting around the trails and the sidewalks?

Should the rope climb have trailing ivy growing around the supports?

Am I going to demand that we grow enormous rows of Venus Fly Traps like Audrey II from Little Shop Of Horrors instead of having a fire to contend with at the finish line? (Now there’s a thought).

While that would be great, no, that’s not at all what I’m getting at. The bridge between my love for gardening and my love of preparing for and running any races is a very obvious one that is staring you in the face.

If you haven’t ever grown your own vegetables, why not try?

I grow a lot of my own vegetables. It’s not that I don’t want to shop at my local market or grocery store, — you should see my wife’s face when I take too long perusing the broccoli and asparagus — it’s that there’s something very satisfying in eating something you’ve grown yourself, but I’ll get to that a little later on. Let’s consider first the nutritional impact.

In my garden, at any one time, you’ll see corn, tomatoes, eggplant (or aubergines, as we call them in England), broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beets, radishes, peas, peppers and chilis. I also have strawberries and oranges for my sweet tooth.

Let’s look at some facts about some of these vegetables:


According to, “Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C and folic acid. Tomatoes contain a wide array of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants, including alpha-lipoic acid, lycopene, choline, folic acid, beta-carotene and lutein. The site continues:

“The benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including tomatoes, are infinite. As plant food consumption goes up, the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer goes down. High fruit and vegetable intake is also associated with healthy skin and hair, increased energy and lower weight. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.”

It’s really very simple; tomatoes are fantastically good for you. Eat lots of them.


World’s healthiest foods reports, “In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such asnasunin.


It’s a well known fact that along with kale, broccoli is a super food that covers an array of health benefits. The question isn’t so much why you should eat it, moreover one of why not.


Organic Facts tells us, “Radishes are a great source of anthocyanins, which are a type of flavonoids, which not only give color to radishes, but also provide numerous health benefits. Anthocyanins have been the subject of numerous medical studies, and have been positively linked to reducing the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, and they have also displayed anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Bell Peppers:

Bell Peppers are quite possibly my most favorite of all. I don’t think I can imagine my garden — or kitchen — without peppers. Marry the it together with some broccoli and some ginger and chili peppers in a stir fry, for example, and I’m all set. Again, the list of benefits of this very simple plant just go on and on.

And for a few pennies, this can grow over and over again in your garden or greenhouse? An almost free supply of food that tastes great, is good for you and gives you a hobby outside of beating yourself up? Why wouldn’t you grow your own?

Spice up that stir fry with a little gentle veggie heat via the jalapeno.

But let’s look at this from a different angle.

It takes patience, a little skill and a lot of attention to detail to make sure you have a decent harvest.

Anyone displaying the patience it requires to grow, say, cauliflower from a seed surely has the same patience and attitude and will when it comes to long-term goals like making that weight, that 9-minute mile, whatever the case may be.

Want that chiseled body? That six pack? The slimmer body and lack of “love handles”? Do you get upset when you’ve done a few workouts over the space of a week and you discover that you’ve lost no weight at all? Or do you understand that it will take months and months of careful attention and nurturing to get the results you want? The exact same goes for growing your own food.

The same kind of person who puts in the time and the effort into long-term physical goals is also the same kind of person who would be suited to growing their own fruits vegetables. It’s the same principle as refusing one cookie now, knowing you’ll take two later. It’s a Spartan attitude.

Expand your mind if you haven’t already tried your hand at gardening and try growing your own fruits and vegetables. You’ll be surprised at just how satisfying it is!

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