You can get your head clear and your body right at a lot of different places. For some, it’s in the gym pumping iron and hitting the treadmill. For others, fishing an isolated riverbank does the trick.
I’ve been gardening for about five years and I’ve noticed a lot of positive changes in my life from planting seeds, pulling weeds, and working the soil. I’m calmer, happier, and more engaged with my friends and family after I’ve spent time in my own green space.
It’s a chance to decompress and soak up some of the sun. It’s about keeping the backyard looking its best and finding a little peace and quiet in a very busy world.
For those of us who sit in front of a computer all day, there is nothing better than the first days of spring and being able to get outside. Connecting with the soil and getting dirt under your fingernails is the best remedy for time spent indoors writing emails or sitting through meetings.
You get to be your own boss in the garden. From deciding what plants you want to grow, where to build the trellises or how to organize the sprinkler lines, gardening helps ease stress and really works your problem-solving skills.
For example, I learned over time that lettuce doesn’t need direct sunlight all day but the peppers and cucumbers do. I figured out that if you stagger your planting, you’ll get vegetables throughout the summer and fall. And companion gardening means you’d better keep the beets away from green beans if you want them both to grow.
There’s some physical health benefits too. I noticed my flexibility really improving after spending the weekend in the garden. When you’re constantly bending down, crawling around and balancing yourself between the kale and lettuce, it’s as if you’re doing some sort of green-thumb yoga class. I found the more I worked in the garden, the more limber I became.
Best of all, you sleep a heck of a lot better after putting in some time in the garden.
While gardening is not the equivalent of going to a CrossFit class or running a marathon, you can still burn 200–400 calories an hour doing light yard work. So, if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s better to tend to the vegetables than vegging out in front of the television at the end of the day.
Nothing puts the world on pause better than pulling weeds. With or without my earbuds in, I can tune out the world for a bit and just focus on the simple act of cleaning up one of the raised garden beds. You have to work systematically to get the job done and I always find myself in a Zen-like state after clearing away the pesky weeds.
And let’s not forget about the bragging rights. While I only have a couple of raised garden plots, it’s hard not to get a real sense of pride in the work put into the garden. Unlike other hobbies like stamp collecting or co-ed softball, you can eat the results. There is nothing better than a bumper crop of vegetables to share with friends and coworkers at the end of the growing season.
And I guarantee you’ll be less likely to drive-thru the local greasy burger joint after you’ve made dinner with the food you’ve grown in your own backyard.
Now, that’s not to say there haven’t been times my blood pressure skyrocketed in the garden, like the time I caught aphids eating all of my cabbage. Or that I haven’t hurt myself—I’ve literally smashed my nose like Elmer Fudd stepping on a rake. But I’d say that through the farmer’s tan, blisters, and bug bites, the fresh homemade salads at the end of the day make up for everything.
If you’re like me, for the first couple of years, you’re going to spend more money growing a single tomato than buying a bushel from the farmer’s market. But in time, the cost becomes manageable. From tools to soil amender to rebuilding raised flower beds, you’re going to spend more than a few dollars and a couple of hours at the local nursery, but in the end, it’ll all be worth it.
Tell us about your gardening plans for the summer. Got any tips for first-time gardeners or blogs you’d like to share? Put them in the comment section. Happy planting, y’all.
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