Growing My Food, Herbs and Flowers is Important!
I know that every year in January, I look forward to when the seed catalogues arrive in the mail. I get excited. I can spend hours reading the seed types in the tomato section alone, making my list, choosing plant seed, going back and whittling the list down until I have a useful selection. I look at what was successful, what wasn’t, what kind of tomatoes we like to use and what I’d like to try next. I am saving the previous years seed if I like it. Then I fill in with something new. I experiment. Then I move on to other types of plants and do the same thing. I have a sunny 15 x 25-foot backyard organic vegetable garden, a triangular shaped shade garden suitable for summer veggies that bolt in the sun, and a separate, bountiful herb garden that is growing along with edible flowers and ornamentals. Working in the garden gives me great joy. I like to play in the dirt. I like to wander through and check on the progress of my plants. I like to get outdoors. Sometimes I simply become nostalgic.
Why is Gardening Important to me?
I am acutely aware that I become nostalgic. I am carrying the family tradition. It is a soul-satisfying activity. I like to produce my veggies and fruits. I like to preserve them. I always have. My first memories of gardening were in both of my grandparent’s backyard gardens, particularly, in my paternal grandfather’s garden. He had an acre garden. I am sure that he started at least one hundred tomato plants and planted them all. Once the tomatoes began to ripen the canning started. Of course, there were lots of them for the entire family and the neighbours as well. I remember when we would go to visit. I would jump out of the car and run garden side to find my granddad. He would be doing all of the errands necessary for a successful garden. I would follow around behind him, listening to him and helping where I could. I know now that he was teaching me. I remember a lot of what he told me even today. The companionship was of paramount importance as well. I can still remember walking hand in hand along the sidewalk on Sydenham Street in Brantford delivering tomatoes to the neighbours. He did not sell them; he shared the abundance!
Wellbeing Gardening or Horticulture Therapy
Both of these terms are now mainstream. There are physical, mental and spiritual benefits of gardening. Gardening is useful for rehabilitation in hospitals and elsewhere. I have heard it labeled horticulture therapy.
- Physical benefits – It gets you away from indoor activities and technology. It gives you an excellent workout as an outdoor activity that takes you into the sunshine and exercises all the main muscles, as well as tendons and ligaments. It keeps the joints moving. I have arthritis and osteopenia, so this is a beneficial activity. Gardening burns calories. I’m a little overweight, so I’m looking forward to this. I watch the time of day that I garden, trying for the early or later part of the day to get some vitamin D. After a diagnosis of melanoma, I stayed too much out of the sun. The long-term result was low vitamin D. Sunshine produces vitamin D. I just watch my timing now. I wear a hat. When you are digging in the soil, exposed to the earth, you gain improvement with your immune system.
‘There is good evidence to suggest that continued exposure to our microbial world is important for us,’ says Professor Sally Bloomfield, a microbiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
- Mental benefits – It gives you tranquility, peace of mind and pleasure. It reduces stress. It gives you a sense of control over your environment. Apparently, it can lower the risk of dementia because you need to think, learn, organize, plan and execute your creative design.
- Spiritual benefits – Many people say that they get an increased sense of mental well-being. It can be meditative, you relax, unwind, reflect and stop worrying. You can get in ‘the zone’ similar to a runner.
Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson, who coined the term biophilia (love of living things) believes that Nature holds the key to health. He believes that we have an affinity for Nature because we are part of it and would prefer to look at flowers and grass rather than concrete or steel. As part of the natural world, we are connected to and restored by it.
Nutrition Benefits – When you grow vegetables and fruit you tend to eat more of them. They are readily available. You can control the quality of the seed type and the resulting produce as well as the growing medium and the non-use of pesticides and chemicals in your garden. You can grow organic.
Benefits for your wallet – When you grow your own, you can save your seed from the best plants for next year and also trade with neighbours or a seed saving group. You will have some to use the following year.
Starting your plants from seed saves lots of money over purchasing nursery plants. Growing a bountiful garden provides low-cost vegetables that surpass anything you can buy in the supermarket. You can choose what to plant. Fresh herbs never seem to be economical in the market. Neither are specialty greens. They are expensive. Enjoy quality fresh produce and herbs straight from the garden. When gardening or cooking there is always some waste. Compost! It is one of the best additions to the soil at no cost.
When we grow gardens, we grow life. It is good for the environment. Animals, insects, bees and all of the creatures big and small love nature. Our garden provides benefit to them as well.
These are some of the reasons that I believe gardening is beneficial. There is another important reason for me to garden; I just plain love it. Everything is plentiful. The veggies are good. The herbs are useful as well, and the flowers just brighten the day. I could go out to work in the back for one-half of an hour and shortly after that, two hours have passed. I sure love my garden!