With gardening being the most common hobby amongst the world's longest living people - could I write a Spring article without talking about gardening? Well, no. This article has been two months in the making. Hope you enjoy!
Being in a personal garden, a community garden, or a botanic garden are enough to change my whole perspective on life. I love being amongst flowers, especially outdoors. But beyond a love of flowers - there are tons of health benefits to gardening. Many benefits combine with the health pros of both being outside and moving, but there are a few additional ones:
Increased learning and attentional spans: Students who gardened scored significantly higher on a science achievement test than students who studied science in a traditional classroom setting."
Calms stress and anxiety - cortisol decreases tremendously with gardening
Releases serotonin and dopamine - in other words, makes you happy.
Overall better for mental health and anxiety.
Watching folks like The Canopy House(on Instagram) or Tametha H. (on Facebook) on their plant-mama journey gives me all the fuzzies. When I went to Tametha about keeping indoor plants alive, she told me:
"I am not an expert. It is trial and error, and I look up a lot on the line. My main part is attention. You have to spend a lot of time with them, and I do. I check them every day sometimes twice a day."
That said, I never saw the dedication to a personal garden until I spent the summer in Philly with my Uncle and Aunt. My Aunt Renee had and has the most beautiful garden that there is. She was the first person that I ever witnessed both create and maintain a lovely, diverse garden for years.
Article by Renee Y.
An outdoor garden viewed as a massive sprawling manicured beauty. But in reality, an outdoor garden can be as simple and exquisitely planted as the street lawn on a city sidewalk, a vertical balcony garden, or even a flowerpot of herbs on the fire escape. An outdoor garden is what you imagine it to be. You don’t need a green thumb, just water and light, and a little patience. Add soil, and the possibilities are endless. Plants can thrive almost anywhere, but your garden will blossom with a bit of care.
A garden is a bridge between the human race and nature. Gardening gives us sensual pleasure (smell, touch, beauty) while at the same time being meditative and reminding us of a more simple time.
The best way to start a garden is to go to a plant nursery. Walk around and see what you like. Ask questions - the staff are Gardner’s - they love to help. Or get a garden catalog ( once you order something you will get more beautiful records to explore) or ask your neighbor about a plant in their yard that you like. Pick what your aesthetic - there are no rules.
Figuring Out Your Plants:
You can plant long term plants (perennials) that come back each season and grow in your garden year-round. These plants often create a garden structure and offer a wide variety of plants, trees, and shrubs to choose from in many different colors. Once established in the garden, these workhorses will thrive for years.
forsythia tulips daffodils roses Azealia hosta ferns mums daylilies, butterfly bush, hydrangea, dogwoods spruce /oaks /maple trees, lawn and ornamental grass, etc.)
Or plant the pretty pop of summer color with Annuals (they typically live for one season) from the big box garden centers. If you have an outdoor cement space, then plant in pots, grow bags, veggie trugs, or fabric raised beds.
Enrich the soil by adding earthworms or cow manure, peat moss, or sand (sand helps to lighten heavy clay soil), lime or, bone meal depending on what your plants need to grow. Sun, shade, wet earth, dry soil. Research the plants you want in your garden to know what they like.
Mulch is an excellent way to keep moisture in the soil and reduce the amount of watering ( and weeds which rob plants of their nutrients) you will need to do, especially in summer.
Fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer for healthier plants and more prominent blooms. There are lots of shake/ water in and grow products, and those work well. You will hear fertilizer numbers (5-10-5), and as you learn your plants, select specific fertilizers for plants.
For acid lovers like roses - my favorite is organic Epsom products like Holy Tone or bonemeal for vegetables. The right fertilizer can change the color of hydrangea from pink to blue. Add ironite if plant leaves are starting to yellow. And it’s fun to make manure tea for your plants: cow manure steeped in water. It’s the organic alternative to chemical fertilizers and more sustainable practice. A little fertilizer goes a long way, listen, more isn't always better. All these things enhance the soil and hence your plants.
Bugs are part of nature and your garden. Let them stay, but sometimes you may want to control bugs (like grubs that eat roots). It’s all a personal choice. If a plant gets infected, try to remove infestation naturally or remove the plant from the garden. Try Adding beneficial bugs like ladybugs or grasshoppers that eat “ bad bugs.” Add a birdbath to encourage birds to visit your garden and eat more bugs.
Mother Nature provides the rain for the garden, but sometimes, you may have to supplement it with water during extremely hot periods. But once you have an established garden with healthy soil and plants and mulch, you may not have to provide extra moisture to plants.
Once you have planted, fertilized, weeded, mulched, and watered.... sit back and enjoy the beauty of your garden and all the wildlife that will come to visit.