Archive for February 25th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #20- Gardening

When I was ten, we moved across the city to a house on a triangular lot with plenty of back yard.  After I turned 12, I convinced my mom to let me take the far corner space behind a fence and grape vines, overgrown with weeds and the neighbor’s ivy, and till it for a vegetable garden.  I grabbed my brothers and a sister, ages 7 to 10, and we all went out and worked that dirt until it was clear and ready to plant, making sure we didn’t disturb the old rhubarb plant.  My mom told me to make raised rows to plant seeds in, leaving lower rows for watering, and we excitedly bought the seeds at the hardware store.

We planted radishes, zucchini, carrots, iceberg and green-leaf lettuce, bell peppers, sweet corn and pumpkins.  The two weeks or so waiting for the first signs of growth felt like the week before Christmas — like it would never arrive.  When it finally did, all us kids kept it weeded and watered until we began harvesting our bounty.  Did they ever taste great!  A couple of months after the final veggies were taken, I was looking through the garden, reminiscing and planning for the next planting, I noticed something odd under the zucchini bushes.  I reached down and pulled out the biggest zucchini I had ever seen, probably 2 feet long and 6 inches wide.  Evidently every one of us had missed this one on our multiple picking sessions.

Outdoor gardening has many more benefits besides harvesting produce.  Your skin actually turns sunlight into a nutrient, much like the plants you are working with.  Vitamin D is essential for hundreds of body functions, including strengthening bones and your immune system, and can lower the risk of several cancers and multiple sclerosis.  Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of several health conditions, including type II diabetes and dementia.  Overexposure, however, puts you at greater risk of skin cancer, so you must either limit your sunshine or take other precautions.

Depending on the type of gardening you are participating in, various activities help exertion and exercise in several muscle groups, sometimes moderate to strenuous (like shoveling, digging or chopping wood), but even light exercise is beneficial.  Gardening can also brighten your mood, help you recover from a depression or calm your body after a stressful event.  Likewise if you are suffering from addiction. 

Over the years I’ve lived in several houses, planted many a garden and grown dozens of fruit trees.  The satisfaction of successful blooms and the birds, butterflies and hummingbirds they draw to us is like no other feeling.  It is especially gratifying when you have selected the perfect mixture of colors, heights and duration of flowers, shrubs and grasses for the intended space.  Even full-time on the road I put out feeders to draw birds to us, and, when we finally settle down in a home base, gardens will be cultivated.


I’ll end this topic with a quote from Alfred Austin, an English poet who lived at the turn of the 20th century:  “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.

Read Full Post »