When we focus on something bigger than ourselves, like the power of nature, we get out of our own heads and notice that everyday life can be amazing!!
Gardening is a positive habit, just like exercising, or being with your pet, and, although gardening will encourage and promote physical activity, in its self, when we structure our lives around healthy routines, we have the opportunities to experience many more positive emotions, such as satisfaction, relaxation, joy, a sense of accomplishment, and last but not least, for garden earthly delights.
Building a new, healthy habit can be difficult, and it normally takes at least thirty days to accomplish. But, in terms of establishing a good habit of gardening, it becomes much easier, because successful gardening, requires a careful tending on a regular basis, and one is motivated to get out and take care of the tasks in the garden each and every day. Therefore, one is motivated and encouraged to receive the stress-reducing benefits associated with gardening on an ongoing basis.
Gardening has many health and therapeutic benefits, and can also be a very enjoyable activity. Individuals with disabilities, seniors and children, can find it especially rewarding to spend time in a garden tending plants and growing their own food. With some thought and planning, you can create an interesting, productive, and pleasant space that can be used as an edible garden.
Benefits of Growing Your Own Edible Garden
Research confirms that gardening is a very healthy activity with many benefits:
Enjoyment and emotional well being. Mental and emotional health can be improved with gardening. Healthcare professionals are now recommending gardening as a tool for therapy. Horticulture therapy, uses gardening techniques in order to improve physical, psychological, and social well being of certain individuals, by allowing the gardner to recognize the positive effects they are experiencing, in order to take the focus off of their own problems.
Additionally, you will be contributing to the environment by attracting birds, bees, and butterflies, help the wildlife, grow green to add oxygen and purify the air, and have a beautiful landscape for relaxation, play, family unity, and entertainment, which will benefit your mood and well being.
Exercise. Physical activity from gardening improves your endurance, flexibility, strength, and mobility. Gardening is a great way to increase your physical activity and burn calories to keep your weight in control. According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), gardening can improve your overall health, manage stress, and reduce the risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression, and certain types of cancer. Adults need a minimum of at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity a week. Certain gardening activities such as raking, pulling weeds, digging, and cultivating, can burn about 150 to 200 calories in a thirty-minute period, for a person weighing 150 pounds, which is excellent for your health.
Fresh Wholesome Foods. Your own gardening is a great source of fresh, nutritious, and fairly inexpensive foods. Gardeners, in general, are much more health conscious. Home-grown edible foods are naturally low in calories, sodium, fats, and a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemical substances which help protect plants from potential damage such as ultraviolet radiation, pests, toxins, and pollution. As humans, once we consume fresh edible plants, it helps us protect against free radical damage from cell oxidation. And best of all, you can literally walk out your back door into your garden and pick something fresh right of the plant or vine, wash it, and eat it raw, when it is at the absolute peak of optimal flavor and taste. Have you ever eaten a fresh ear of boiled corn right out of the garden, compared to a microwaved frozen piece of corn? Night and day difference, isn’t it?
There are specific nutrients in veggies and fruits that can help reverse mental health issues. Beets, artichokes, and spinach, contain tyrosine, which aids neurotransmitters combat stress. Tryptophan, another plant nutrient, aids in balancing hormones, specifically, enhancing the release of serotonin, our pleasure hormone. Dark leafy greens, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and tomatoes, contain healthy amounts of vitamin B12, and other B vitamins, which also aids in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Green veggies and citrus fruits contain folic acid, replenishing low folic acid levels which have been associated with mental deficiencies and depression.
Nature Healing. Did you know walking barefooted in dirt, on the ground, is good for you? Well, it is! By grounding yourself, the soil transfers free electrons into your body that spreads throughout your bodily tissue. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, besides relaxing you, and enhancing your well being. For me, it’s having my bare feet touch the loose sand on the beach in the early Spring, and the sand is usually hot, but it doesn’t matter, after a long Winter. It’s the most incredible feeling for me, then I’m off running to get into the water immediately.
Nature connects you with the earth and all the other living elements of the natural world. By actively gardening for garden earthly delights, you are able to reconnect to nature, which can add perspective to your human existence, calming you and re-centering you in a very satisfying way, and improving your mental state. As it was with our ancestors, we are reminded that we are not the center of the universe, but a small, but, unique and important part, and we don’t have to be perfect, and required to do all things. In fact, nature reminds us we are not perfect, because that’s what makes each of us unique and different from each other, as is nature. We, as humans, we have a vital place in this world, but our planet and the universe is much bigger than any of us.
Gardening allows you to be reminded of the cycle of life. Each season you will witness firsthand, your garden go through the complete cycle of life, from birth to death, and then renew itself next planting season, which you are instrumental in. Taking an active part in the renewal of the life cycle, can assist you to see death as a part of life, a part of a larger process, keeping you out of anxiety and depressive moods.
Researchers have found that daily gardening represent the single biggest risk-reduction factor for dementia, reducing incidence of by at least 36%. This one long-term study, which involved 3000 older adults for a sixteen-year period, tracked a variety of lifestyle factors, and their relationship to developing dementia. Another similar study, estimated the risk reduction of dementia at 47%.
Relaxation. Gardening involves implementing a meditative mindset, and mindfulness, which both support mental health. Mindfulness and meditation eases stress by activating the nervous system’s relaxation response, because we learn to witness our emotions from a distance, rather than get caught up in then. So, gardening lifts our spirit our mood, and limits ruminations, which is the act of thinking repetitively about ourselves and our problems.
There are even good bacteria in good healthy soils that are believed to stimulate production of nureprinephrine and serotonin in your body which acts as an antidepressant. These hormones help the body to regulate the required balance of chemicals in the brain, reducing anxiety, and depression.
Grow Things You Can Eat
An edible garden is a garden that contains flowers, herbs, seeds, sprouts, berries, and plants you can eat. Flowers, sprouts, and herbs can be added in salads, add flavor to cooked dishes, be made into medicinal teas, or as garnishes. Plants and veggies can be eaten raw or cooked. Here are some examples of flowers, herbs, sprouts, veggies, and fruits, which are suitable for an edible garden:
Flowers. Carnations, chamomile, chrysanthemum, fuchsia, geranium, hibiscus, hollyhock, honeysuckle, impatiens, lavender, lemon blossom, lilac, marigold, pansy, rose, salvia, and violet.
Herbs. Rosemary, basil, bay leaves (bay tree), chives, sage, mint, oregano, parsley, and thyme.
Veggies. Squash, tomatoes, corn, all varieties of peppers, beans, peas, lettuce, cabbage, kale, spinach, carrots, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, onions, garlic, asparagus, greens, potatoes (sweet and irish), and bean sprouts.
Fruits. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, avocados, passion fruit, oranges, pears, plums, peaches, apples, lemons, grapes, cherries, and limes.
A Few Gardening Tips
Courtyards, balconies, porches, raised beds, or traditional gardens, are all suitable sites. For a traditional garden or raised beds, land should reasonable flat and receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, and preferably, near a water source. Suitable containers can be anything that will hold your plants in sufficient amount of rich organic soil, such as old wheelbarrows, old bathtubs, or cut whiskey barrels, with holes for proper drainage, or, old stacked tires, and terra cotta pots. Raised beds can be freestanding and terraced, or framed in untreated and stackable landscaping timbers or boards. If you have a North wall, consider growing plants and vines trained up the wall.
It’s best to start your own compost pile, where you place kitchen scrapes and garden refuse, leaves, etc. to decompose, so you supplement your growing soil with new nutrients each growing season. Plant healthier varieties, which are certified organic, non-GMO (non genetically modified) seeds, heirloom varieties, and heirloom cultivars. Use only your compost or certified organic fertilizers and mulch to conserve water. Rotate crops regularly at least once a year, to ensure that your soil retains nutrients and reduce the risk of disease and fungus. Use organic preparations such as tobacco and liquid dish washing soap, garlic, chili, or milk sprays, to ward off bothersome insects. If you are considering taking up gardening, here is a good reference book. “The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Your Year-Round Beauty From Brandywine Cottage” Here is one more reference “Growing Vegetables With A Smile”
By establishing an edible garden, you will be taking care of furnishing your table with one of the major food groups, fruits and veggies, which will go a long way in helping you maintain your overall health and well being. Let’s review all the major food groups.
Major Nutrient-Rich Food Groups
Fruits and Vegetables-Fruits and veggies are naturally low in fats. Always grow certified organic and non-GMO. Orange and dark green are the best skin colors. Choose the following fruits and veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, leafy greens such as swiss chard, cabbage, romaine, or bok choy, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. turnips and pumpkin, snap peas, green beans, bell peppers and asparagus, apples plums mango, papaya, pineapples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, pomegranates, and grapes. Citrus fruits grapefruit and oranges, peaches, pears, melons, tomatoes, and avocados.
Grains–whole grain foods are low in fats, high in fiber, and complex carbs, preventing overeating because you feel fuller longer. Always look for ingredient “whole” on the label, such as “whole wheat flour,” and have at least three grams of fiber per serving. Choose the following grains: rolled oats, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas, whole grain wheat or rye crackers and breads, brown and wild rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, whole corn, and cracked wheat.
Meats, Poultry, Veal, Lamb, and Pork-Choose low-fat lean cuts of grass-fed beef, or free-range pork, veal, or lamb. Look for “round”, or “loin”, or “leg” cuts on the packaging. Trim other fat off before cooking, cooking by broiling, baking, or roasting. Limit the use of lean beef to not more than four times a week. Chicken breasts are the best cut of poultry, being low in fat and high in protein. Always remove skin and excess fat before cooking, either baking, broiling, grilling, or roasting. Other substitute meats include turkey bacon, ground chicken or turkey. Protein non-meats sources include beans, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils, and chick peas. For more information on these protein foods and where to purchase then, read this review, “What Is In Maca Root?“.
Fish and Shellfish-Fish and shellfish should be fresh cold-water, or wild-caught fish, clean and clear in color with firm springy flesh. If you can’t buy fresh, purchase frozen or low-salt canned fish. Wild-caught oily fish are best source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which include wild caught salmon, wild-caught tuna, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, and lobster. Refer to the “What Is In Maca Root?” article above, for more information.
Dairy and dairy substitutes. Choose skim milk, or low-fat milk, or enriched milk substitutes. Replace cream with evaporated skim milk for cooking and coffee. Also use low-fat or fat-free cheeses. Use the following forms: low-fat, skim, nut, or enriched milk, like soy or rice, skim ricotta instead of cream cheese, low-fat cottage, string cheese, and plain low-fat yogurt in place of sour cream.
Supplement For Added Assurance
For added nutritional benefits and assurance to eating fresh nutritious foods, supplement your diet with a natural, organic, non-GMO, healing whole food Adaptogen Peruvian Maca, which will provide you with all the benefits of fresh nutritional whole foods. Adaptogens are a unique class of natural-growing plants (only a few recognized world-wide), that have the ability to assist the human body to “adapt” and naturally function properly, by providing a “normalizing effect”, or balancing effect, to harmful stressors, oxidation, inflammation, and other harmful substances.
P Maca is a natural, non-toxic, nutritionally balanced, whole food containing 60% Carbs, 11% Protein, 9% Fiber, 18 Amino Acids (almost all the Amino Acids), 20 free fatty acids, Vitamins Thamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Ascorbic Acid (C), and Niacin (great for healthy circulation). Minerals and trace elements such as Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sodium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, and Boron. It contains five different Sterols (lowers cholesterol), naturally occurring fruit sugar, and Phytonutrients Glucosinolates and Polyphenols (plant bio active compounds) believed to have antioxidants and anti-Cancer properties. For more in depth information on Peruvian Maca, it’s benefits, and where to purchase it, read these reviews: “What Is Healthy Living?” and, “How To Stress Relief“.
For garden earthly delights and your health and well being, are you ready to go out and buy a shovel, a hoe, a rake, a spader, and a wheelbarrow? I hope you have found this article on gardening inspiring, and you take the steps in starting your own edible garden. Please leave your questions and comments below.