In addition to being an obvious plug for a sister site, “Texas Victory Garden,” I’d like to point out to those who either haven’t ever enjoyed gardening, or those that have been away from it for too long, all the wonderful benefits that gardening provides – especially if you’re growing your own groceries!
Let’s begin by saying what gardening is not. Generally speaking, it is not a rainy day activity. Sure you can have a home or office full of indoor plants, but you’d have to have a lot of them to get much exercise and activity. And very few of us are lucky enough to have a green house large enough to provide 30 minutes or more of strenuous exercise each day. It would take a green house of that magnitude to supply us with all the groceries we need, especially year around. So we can pretty much say that gardening is not going to make us independent of the grocery store unless you have a large garden and want to can things way your grandmother or great-grandmother once did.
That’s the down side. For ninety-nine percent of us, we won’t be able to garden every day, nor will we be able to provide all our own groceries. But we can, “make hay while the sun shines,” and, “enjoy the fruits of our labor,” as the old sayings go and help describe the benefits that gardening provids. I much prefer the Vitamin D my body makes from being outdoors on a sunny day and to me, nothing tastes better than the fruits and vegetables that are consumed just minutes after being harvested from my garden.
However you might ask, is gardening strenuous enough to be considered exercise, or is it more of a keep busy sort of activity – merely an outdoor exercise on the level of playing solitaire on the computer? In my opinion it certainly can be.
In fact, if you’re new to gardening, or haven’t done it in awhile, I should caution you to take the same precautions with gardening that you would before beginning any other strenuous exercise. Just about everyone with an ounce of brains knows you don’t go to the gym for the first time and begin with heavy weights. You start with the light ones and make it increasingly more difficult as the muscles rebuild stronger. That’s not always possible with gardening. Quite often you have to begin by digging out or moving heavy rocks or other obstacles; to say nothing of toting those big cumbersome bags of composted manure and other soil amendments.
Then too is the digging and turning of the dirt and all the other preparations that it takes to make a bed ready, and using containers won’t get you out of that entirely. Actually, I find turning a bed, even a large bed with a spading fork to be easier than filling and moving around a bunch of five gallon containers of moist potting soil. Even a completely dry container is too much for someone not used to manipulating something like that. In the gym you can get a knowledgeable trainer to show you the correct lifting techniques to prevent injury. Unfortunately there isn’t that kind of help available for the home gardener. As a result, each year there are thousands that require medical attention due to doing the right thing the wrong way while working in their garden. Think before you do! Lift with care, caution, and balance.
Now a word or two or three about the mental or emotional aspect of gardening – another of the benefits of gardening. Stress really is a killer. If you’ve been listening to the “Wellness Wednesday” series of the “Older & Active” show on Blog Talk Radio, you’ve enjoyed Dr. Pickering’s programs on “Attitude” and more recently on “Nutrition.” Coming up soon is the series on Stress and he’ll be telling us what causes it and how to avoid it. Physical activity is one of the best preventive measures that I know of, and I’ll also rank gardening right up there too. There is something incredibly peaceful about gardening that I can’t explain, I only accept and enjoy.
Finally, a few words about another significant perspective to work in the garden – good nutrition.
In this day and age of Monsanto’s GMO produce and pesticide polluted groceries, there are only two choices left to the wise consumer: buy produce that you know is grown organically, preferably at a local farmer’s market from a vendor that you’ve learned to trust, or grow your own. I do both because as I stated in the beginning, I’m not lucky enough to have a large garden and a big greenhouse. And what doesn’t grow locally I get from a grocery store that specializes in having organic produce. I wish I had the facilities to grow as much Kale, Spinach, and Swiss Chard as I consume year around, but I don’t and have to rely on others.
Now maybe it’s just my imagination, but I happen to think what I grow tastes much better. So give gardening a try – your body, as well as your mind, will be glad you did.