Gardening is beneficial to your overall health and wellness!
Part of aging well is eating well and managing stress. Giving yourself moments to be outdoors, breathing fresh air, getting some sun for the body to produce vitamin D, can be a part of how you manage stress. Personally, I like to walk in my neighborhood or the on the golf course. For my husband… it’s a passion to work in the yard and plant a beautiful garden each year.
I am not a gardener! I don’t necessarily like to ‘work’ in the yard. I do, however, like to look at the beautiful yard my husband manages around our home. I do not voluntarily participate. I hate to admit it… but, when he does ask me to help him harvest vegetables, or pick up sticks, or do something ‘gardening’ related, I do find joy in the completion of a task. I find myself looking at whatever I just accomplished with pride.
So what is it about gardening that is so good for us?
There are studies that show how working with the earth is cathartic and stress relieving. https://www.verywellmind.com/gardening-for-stress-relief-3144600. It
provides many benefits for your body and soul, from burning calories to a sense of accomplishment.
Beyond the sense of accomplishment in planting the garden and ultimately harvesting the crop, the fresh produce outside the door is enough for me to actively participate (when needed)!
While we have an existing garden, my husband recently read about the benefits of a potager garden. 2.5 days later ... the garden area was completely redesigned as a potager garden and ready for planting in the late winter/early spring. The potager garden was invented in France as an ornamental kitchen garden. This type of garden allows for year round gardening (even in cold climates). For a simple introduction to the potager garden, see this article. https://www.daviddomoney.com/what-plants-to-use-in-a-potager-garden-veg-plot/.
You know from previous posts that we do a lot of cooking for ourselves. Having a kitchen garden is amazing. There is nothing like a simply cooked meal with fresh produce, herbs and fruits from the garden. We also can the produce, can sauces, and make jam from fruit. It’s like a burst of summer when we open something from the garden, during the winter months. What a treat! Separately, the produce from our garden is chemical which is an important part of aging well and living well.
My first exposure to a garden was spending summers in northern Michigan with my grandparents, as a child. I would help my grandparents in the garden, and help with produce when it was harvested. My grandma canned as many vegetables as she could. She froze fresh berries and there was always something homemade with all of it, for meals. Later in life, one of my closest friends had herbs growing in her kitchen window. I loved that! She would use them in all sorts of dishes. I was intrigued. Fast forward to the last decade of my life, and we usually have amazing produce to work with during late spring, summer and early fall. While I've been around gardening, off and on my entire life, I'm just now really appreciating it. I do know that I'm in awe of the effort my husband puts into this labor of love, and I'm beginning to appreciate the bounty that much more when I participate.
If you have a small space or simply room for some pots, you too can grow fresh herbs, produce, and fruit. I would encourage you to try it. If anything, your mind will clear, you will appreciate your food in a new way, and you will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment!