Most people strive to live a healthy life. They participate in activities that are good for their physical and mental well-being. Some of us practice living a healthy life better than other people do. If you haven’t been living your best life lately know that it is never too late to start. Whether it is practicing healthy eating habits, daily exercise, meditation, prayer, journaling or doing acts of good deeds, all of these activities can all be considered “good for you” activities. These activities may require hard work, failure, and sacrifice but in the end, they will help make you feel healthier.
Gardening and planting flowers are on my list of activities that help make me feel good. If you are looking for a new activity or a reason to garden more consider indulging in the world of gardening. Please note I am not a doctor; I am a horticulturalist sharing my opinion on reasons I think gardening is good for you!
Why Gardening is Good for You
Grow your own food
One of the most known benefits of gardening is growing your own food. There is a wide world of edible plants to be explored. People love to grow tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, onions, asparagus, and a rainbow of other vegetables and fruits at home. If you choose to grow your own food you know exactly what fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides were or weren’t used on your food. There is comfort in knowing what was used to produce your food. Growing your own food also means that transportation and handling are reduced. When you cut spears of asparagus from your patch the only transportation was from your garden into your home. Not to mention, the fresh taste from home garden vegetables like tomatoes can’t be beat. It will make your meals taste better which in turn makes eating healthy vegetables easier. Growing your own vegetables and fruits can be a great way to share with friends and family. You may have an excess of a crop and may want to give some away or trade with a friend. This type of community sharing is good for the body, mind, and spirit.
Vitamin D is good for you
Not every day in the garden will be sunny. If you are lucky enough to be outside on a sunny day the Vitamin D will be good for you! According to Healthline getting Vitamin D from the sun can help fight diseases such as the flu, reduce depression and boost weight loss.
Digging in the dirt and pulling weeds is an excellent workout
My husband is a landscaper and every spring when the season starts for him, he is always ready to get in “landscape shape”. The physical nature of his work building walls & patios, planting trees, shrubs, and perennials in addition to spring clean up and mulching is often a better work out than 30 minutes in the gym.
When I work in our yard pulling weeds and planting perennials, I always feel the burn in my glutes, hamstrings and core section. If you aren’t fond of traditional work out routines that can seem like a chore gardening may be the answer. An effective way to get your exercise is to work out in a non-traditional way such as planting flowers or vegetables in your yard.
Perennials and vegetables require extra care after they are planted, which means the work out doesn’t stop after the initial planting. Squatting to pick green beans doesn’t seem like the same amount of work as doing 20 squats in the gym. Crawling, crouching and reaching to eradicate weeds from your yard is a great core strengthening workout. Digging in the dirt to create new beds or plant new perennials works the upper body and mid-section. Get in shape this year by digging in the dirt, pulling weeds and planting bulbs, and perennials.
Failure and success are great tools for personal growth
Seasoned gardeners will tell you they have experienced many failures in their gardening endeavors as well as many success stories. Although it may sound cliché, without failure it is difficult to appreciate success. Every flower bulb you have planted that didn’t grow helps you appreciate the 10 flower bulbs you have that are growing. It may seem counterintuitive that failures can bolster your self-esteem, but they do. If you continue trying you will have success which therefore helps improve your confidence and self-esteem. Failure and success also help to teach you what went wrong on your gardening project. They also help teach what went right will and make you feel successful.
Pass down the skill of gardening to younger generations
Teaching your knowledge and skills in the garden is rewarding. Passing down your love of digging in the dirt to your children and grandchildren can make you feel good. Working in the garden with a member of your family you get to enjoy double the rewards. You can appreciate the benefits of your hard work and labor. You also get to see someone you love to appreciate the benefits of the hard work and labor you enjoyed together. Teaching people about your favorite flowers and gardening techniques helps you stay sharp while spreading good knowledge to the world.
Microbes in the soil can be an anti-depressant
I have always felt better when I was able to dig in the dirt. Whether it was mud between my toes or a healthy potting mix when planting perennials I always felt better. Little did I know that there is science behind this good feeling of getting your hands dirty. According to this 2017 article https://qz.com/993258/dirt-has-a-microbiome-and-it-may-double-as-an-antidepressant/ from Quartz written by Zoe Schlanger the microbiome of soil can be good for our gut health, which can is good for our overall health. According to the Quartz article “There’s now pretty good evidence to draw at least an outline of a conclusion: Breathing in, playing in, and digging in dirt may be good for your health.”
The anticipation and excitement of waiting for blooms brings happiness
Living in a cold climate state like Wisconsin can be tiring during the gloomy winter months. It is hard to practice most of the points of 1-6 above when the earth around you is frozen. However, there are always silver linings. When you plant your flower bulbs like tulips, daffodils, allium, hyacinth, and crocus the anticipation of waiting for them to sprout after a long winter is exciting. When your bulbs start to show the first signs of growth and eventually produce a flower bud it’s a feeling of accomplishment. Seeing the first blooms from your crocus in spring is a sight of beauty. Just like hearing the birds chirping seeing flowers in your garden is a relief after a long winter.
This anticipation and excitement that comes with gardening aren’t limited to gardening with flower bulbs. Although flower bulbs do an excellent job of creating hype for spring.
Excitement comes when you can go out to your garden and harvest fresh rhubarb stalks for a jam you are going to give to a friend. When that first leaf sprouts from the elephant ear you planted in spring appear, that is exciting. To know that what once was just a flower bulb has now grown into a plant with 4-6’ tall stems is exciting.
Waiting all spring for the summer blooms from pollinators to start blooming is exciting. When perennials like Butterfly Weed, Purple Coneflower, and Bee Balm start blooming and you see your first butterfly, the feeling it gives you can’t be beat!
There are More Than 7 Reasons Why Gardening is Good
As a person that has played in the dirt, picked flowers, and helped pick green beans as a kid I have always loved to garden. I chose plants as my profession and can think of more than 7 reasons why gardening is good for you. When I first started working with plants in my 20’s I didn’t always have someone to talk about my love of plants with. Often, I felt isolated in my love for trees, bulbs, perennials, and flowers. I have been concerned that gardening and that an appreciation for plants was dying with younger generations.
My hope is as people age, become homeowners and enjoy the simple things in life their appreciation for gardening will increase. And the good of gardening will make them lifelong plant peddlers, and garden enthusiasts. Let’s all do our part to help spread the good of gardening to younger generations. And hope this healthy pastime continues to be a positive part of our daily lives.