Will You Give Gardening A Try?

By Cynthia Jones

Seeds are so remarkable! Even though I’ve been a lifelong gardener, I’m still amazed by the fact that a handful of seeds can give us an entire garden full of squash, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, marigolds, cosmos, basil and so much more. And all of that – everything that ends up on your plate or in your vase – starts with those tiny little seeds.

Gardening has always been a favorite hobby of mine. I love browsing seed catalogs all winter and determining what I will grow in the upcoming garden season, watching my tulips come up in the spring, and harvesting the first spinach and the last squash of the season. I especially love having fresh herbs all summer and fall!

If I haven’t convinced you with just the joys of gardening to sow a few seeds yourself, maybe a research study can. The first study of its kind, a recent paper found that gardening may help reduce cancer risk and boost mental health due to the fact that people who garden ate more fiber and got more physical activity –  two known ways to reduce the risk of cancer and chronic disease. In addition, the study saw significant decreases in gardeners’ stress levels and anxiety. 

The main thing to know about gardening is to read the seed packet and make sure that you pick a location for your garden that will provide the recommended sun or shade and will mature in your growing season. If you are in an area where deer, rabbits or other critters may visit, you will want a fence or raised gardens (depending on the critters). Water is important to your garden and nothing can turn you off from gardening as much as having to haul water, so make sure your hose reaches your gardens. Good soil is key to a successful garden so start with well-drained soil, sandy loam and as much organic matter as possible (I use mushroom compost, which is available in most places you purchase plants). The hardest thing I find when beginning my garden is thinning out the plants once your seeds begin to sprout (it’s easy enough to do if you don’t get attached to them as I do!), but it is important to leave enough room for the plants to mature without overcrowding.

Let’s explore the health benefits a bit more. Gardening is an outdoor activity, so you will benefit from Vitamin D from the sunshine which benefits your bones and immune system. Gardening is also a great way to get your aerobic exercise in – reaching, twisting and bending all will help strength, stamina and flexibility. And if you choose to get involved with a community garden, it provides an opportunity to meet new people and socialize.

Speaking of community gardens, if you don’t have the space for a garden, this is a great way to get started and meet some fellow gardeners. Many community gardens have master gardeners available to help with your questions. If you aren’t sure where there might be community gardens in your area, try looking at the American Community Gardening Association. This is a great option for new gardeners too!

Whether you’re interested in flowers or vegetables, fruit or herbs, there’s nothing like the feeling of pure joy you get when watching something grow. Seeing that tiny remarkable seed grow into something to please your eye, your palate, or your soul is incredibly rewarding. Will you give gardening a try?

Cynthia Jones - Vitality
Cynthia Jones is a Wellness Strategy Manager, Mid-market Strategy Specialist, for Vitality Group. She is grandmother to an Australian Shepherd named Walter who she is head over heels in love with. Cynthia enjoys drawing and watercolors.  When the weather cooperates, you will find her gardening, bicycling or at the dog park.

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