Regardless of the kind of garden that you cultivate, be it an ornamental or produce-filled one, the very soil that you work with contains a “natural antidepressant” that can help increase our serotonin levels. Various studies have also shown that gardening is a great stress-reliever. Gardening can even help reduce dementia, and its therapeutic aspects extend to religion itself. The very act of nurturing life from the soil can help you become one with God’s creations, and it also gives you the chance to co-create with Him.
The joy of gardening
Karena Poke, president and founder of the public relations (PR) firm Urban Philanthropy by KP, reported that she was able to enjoy gardening’s many benefits after she turned her front yard into an edible garden. Poke commented that thanks to her edible garden, she can share produce with family, friends, and neighbors.
She has even inspired some of her friends to give gardening a try. Poke is growing her own edible garden in Houston, Texas, and thanks to her tireless cultivation, she now has access to a replenishing source of various herbs and vegetables like basil, cucumbers, ginger, gypsy peppers, Italian parsley, jalapeño peppers, lemon basil, mint, onions, rosemary, and thyme.
Poke’s PR is focused on helping clients build their brands through philanthropy, and her love for gardening began in 2012 when one client recommended that she spearhead a community garden in a rough section of Memphis, Tennessee. The client also told Poke that the community would benefit from the garden since vegetables were scarce in the area.
The project was a success, and it began her interest in horticulture. Poke worked hard to become a certified master gardener in 2015. Thanks to her volunteer work with Texas A&M University’s Harris County Master Gardener Association, Poke has also started to hone her penchant for cooking.
Poke explained that her firm conducted trials to determine which kinds of fruits and vegetables would thrive in the area. The trials also gave her a chance to experiment and cook with several varieties of vegetables like beans, carrots, collard greens, kale, leeks, okra, onions, peas, peppers, squash, tomatoes, and zucchini.
Since her interest in gardening began, Poke has sworn off meat. She also keeps herself busy by growing unusual vegetable varieties like purple hull peas.
Compared to Poke, who started as a gardening newbie, Frank McEwen has been cultivating gardens for a while now. He shared, “I get a great deal of satisfaction from digging in the dirt, working up a sweat, watering my garden and watching it grow.”
McEwen is an advocate of square-foot gardening, a technique that divides a garden into small square sections to produce the best results. McEwen grows cucumbers, collards, herbs, kale, and tomatoes yearly in his garden.
He explained that with square-foot gardening, you could grow vegetables even if you only have a small patch of land to work with. McEwen owns McEwen & Sons Gristmill, an organic corn-grinding company based in Wilsonville, Alabama. (Related: Growing for a better world: The 5 benefits of organic gardening.)
Talking about the joy that gardening brings him, McEwen shared, “I can look back after I’ve weeded my garden or picked the daily crop and take it to my happy wife, who loves to cook with garden-fresh vegetables, and know that I’ve accomplished something that will bring my friends and family joy.”
He concluded, “Nobody produces anything in our wonderful country [anymore.] This is my way of fighting back. You can’t raise vegetables on the internet. There’s no app available for that.”
What are the benefits of gardening?
If you’re looking for a hobby that is good for both your physical and mental health, consider gardening because it offers the following benefits:
- It can help you eat healthier – By gardening, you are making an active choice to cultivate and harvest naturally-grown vegetables. Since you work hard to grow your own produce, you’ll be more inclined to eat them as often as you can.
- It can help you stay in shape – Gardening isn’t just about sitting in the dirt and weeding. It involves enough heavy lifting that it counts as regular exercise! It can strengthen bones, muscles, and joints
- It can help you feel relaxed – Living a fast-paced lifestyle can often drain our energy reserves, and gardening is the perfect antidote for stress. When we garden, we can be one with nature. It also gives us a chance to catch our breath and focus on simple tasks
- It can boost your mental health – Studies show that immersing one’s self in nature can help people prevent and manage mental disorders like depression.
You can learn more about backyard gardening and its different health benefits at Homesteading.news.