Everything I Know I Learned From My Garden

My garden
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As someone who looks forward to the seed catalogs coming in the mail the day after the Christmas holidays, I know that my garden, and being connected to nature, is some of the most important parts of my life.

I became interested in growing and gardening when I was little but had very little direction, nor the wisdom that there was room for mistakes, so my garden obsession got put on hold until I got married and had a backyard of my own. As Urban Farm owner Greg Peterson and I agreed on while talking on our podcast episode, your first garden is your worst garden.  Leave your hangups at the door, there is no perfect in gardening. And while it’s incredibly disappointing when a few deer come and massacre all your carrot seedlings in the still of the night, it is the never-ending learning, and forgiveness, that I love about getting my hands in the dirt.

In midlife, having things you truly love and enjoy is non-negotiable. It gives us purpose and answers the “why” of what we are doing. As I have been growing a large vegetable garden for many years now, I have learned that gardening is so good for my health, and not just in the physical way. Here are a couple of things I have realized in my adventures in gardening and why I believe that gardening is something everybody should be doing:

Gardening Keeps You Physically Active

Gardening involves a variety of physical tasks such as moving dirt, shoveling, digging, planting, weeding, and watering, which can help improve strength, endurance, and flexibility. A day in the garden can leave you feeling like you ran a marathon. It’s a great way to stay active without the need for a gym membership.

Gardening is Great Stress Relief

Spending time in nature and caring for plants has been shown to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Planting and tending to small seedling plants can bring out our inner caretakers. The soothing sounds of birds chirping and the gentle rustling of leaves can have a calming effect on the mind. Here’s something else to consider: plants don’t talk back :).

Gardening Promotes Mindfulness

Gardening encourages mindfulness and being present in the moment. It is not enough to put a few herbs in a pot and hope for the best. You need to pay attention to your soil, watering, pruning and of course, eating all the delicious things you grow. It’s a meditative activity that allows you to focus on the task at hand, quieting the mind and reducing anxiety.

Gardening Connects You to Nature

Have you ever put your hands into beautiful healthy dirt and realized what is going on in that soil? Millions of living, breathing organisms that help feed the very things you eat. There is a circle of life phenomenon that occurs in a garden when you start with the dirt, planting, and then composting. It is a miracle. Gardening allows you to connect with the natural world and develop a deeper appreciation for the environment. It can help foster a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the planet.

Of Course, the Nutritional Benefits

Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs can lead to a healthier diet. You’ll have access to fresh, organic produce right from your garden, which can be more nutritious than store-bought options because it is just picked rather than traveling and sitting on a store shelf for days. And the taste of fresh-picked veggies and herbs is something everyone should have the opportunity to try.

Gardening is Social

Gardening can be a social activity that brings people together. Whether you’re participating in a community garden or sharing gardening tips with neighbors, it can help foster a sense of community and belonging. I end up growing so much produce every year and giving a lot of it to my friends and family. It feels like the perfect way to share the love.

Gardening Uses Your Brain

Engaging in activities that stimulate the brain, such as planning your garden layout or learning about different plant species, can help improve cognitive function and memory. Wondering what to plant, where, and when takes a skill that is honed every single year. No year is ever like the last.

Gardening is not only good for your plants but also good for your health. Whether you have a green thumb or are just starting out, incorporating gardening into your routine can have a positive impact on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. So, grab your gardening gloves and get ready to reap the many health benefits of this fulfilling activity.


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