I was so exhausted yesterday when I got home. That’s what the end of the school year is like for teachers. It’s spring, the kids are ready to be outside and filled with energy. The first thing I did to revive myself is go outside, grab my garden hose and begin to water my perennials and vegetable seedlings. I began to feel a little more like myself.
“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”
I have several gardens but my favorite is the vegetable garden. If you’ve never planted one, you should! One of my greatest joys is planting my vegetable garden. I have two; one I make with my preschoolers and one at home.
There is great satisfaction in growing vegetables. I adore my flower garden but it’s the vegetable garden that I look most forward to. There is incredible beauty in a head of lettuce and little scallion sprouts popping up out of the dirt. My mother had a huge garden that all four of us children planted, weeded and harvested! I’ll never forget digging up potatoes and watching beans form. Maybe it’s why I’ve always loved eating vegetables from a very young age. I couldn’t wait to grow one of my own when we got our first house. I’ve had one where ever we’ve lived. Each spring, there’s nothing like starting over each year… a fresh slate to do what worked and change what didn’t.
Why should you garden? One of the biggest reasons for me is to find peace, revive and relax. Here are seven ways that bring peace in a garden:
1. An important lesson in the garden for us and for our children is the waiting and anticipation. Our culture is very impulsive and our society expects everything to happen instantly. No one seems to ever want to wait. It’s important to learn that good things come to those who wait. Anticipation for the seeds to grow is like Christmas!
“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”
2. In a garden you can experience true living in the moment. You experience mindfulness as you watch the bugs and dig up worms. It allows you to think about something other than stressors. You use all your senses especially sight, touch and smell as you dig in the earth. Touch and smell the dirt, smell basil, admire the miracle of a sprout or taste a small scallion. For me and many others, there’s nothing like tasting a fresh warm tomato right out of the garden.
“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
3. Gardening is a chance to be creative – I sometimes feel like an artist in my garden. I love to mix colors in the flowers. I plan so something is always blooming. I like to plant the lettuce in a pattern, red, green, red, green. I love to take pictures of the insects at work. My garden is filled with possibilities. It is my palette.
“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
~ Claude Monet
4. You improve your mental health in the garden – All sorts of studies have shown that people with depression feel much better after being in their garden. I’ve even read that gardening is good for your brain. One study found that people in their 60‘s and 70‘s who gardened regularly had a 36% and 47% lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners. Just Fascinating!! By the way, leave your phone in the house.
“Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”
5. My physical health is also improved – You might not think of exercise when you garden but after a day of digging up a patch, I’m sore and have used muscles I haven’t in a while! You’re breathing in fresh air and feeling the sunshine and getting your dose of vitamin D. Eating all those vegetables is good nutrition, too, a great example for your family. Kids will often try food that they’ve grown when they’ll never try it on their plate. This is as local as it gets! One study I read found that people who gardened recovered faster from surgery. Another found that certain strains of harmless soil-borne Mycobacterium vaccae stimulated the human immune system. Exposure to this bacteria can aid in developing a strong immune system! Another one I read is that farm children are less likely to develop asthma than city children.
“Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years.”
6. Time slows down in a garden – For me, life slows down if I spend anytime in nature. Our society is so busy! Many people never slow down. And our poor children also need to slow down and not be involved in so many activities. I can let go of my monkey mind in the garden and my time there lasts forever. A garden teaches us patience
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
7. You can find yourself in the garden - With all that quiet and time to think I reconnect with whom I am. I’ve let go of the stressors in life and of the feeling like I’ve haven’t gotten anything done. All around me is beauty and peace.
“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
Are you ready?
• First get prepared. Are you planting a container garden? Or a plot outside?
If it’s your first garden pick things that are easy to grow. Don’t have a book on gardening? Google is at your fingertips!
• Have your seeds and dirt ready to go. Some kind of mulch is a good idea, too, to keep the dirt weed-free and moist. Choose easy to grow seeds. Or buy young plants.
• If you don’t have space, try container gardening. I’m going to do a combination this year. Prepared Mama put them in container and has great advice here and here. I like her 4″, 6″ 8″ and 12″ container ideas like the one below:
One thing you need to know is when to plant. There are veggies that like cold nights and can take a little snow and others that can only be grown in the heat of summer. I recommend the following for an easy:
• Spring garden: crops include spinach, lettuce, peas, scallions, onions
• Mid Spring: crops potatoes, broccoli, beets, radishes and carrots
• Summer: after the last frost plant, tomatoes, pumpkins, squashes, beans, herbs like basil, dill, chives, oregano and rosemary.
Is all this too much for you? Ask for help! You probably know a gardener who is as anxious as I am to share. Otherwise, remember, google is right at your fingertips!
Please let me know if you start a garden! I’d love to hear how it’s growing.
Experience all these things for yourself and find peace in your garden… and if you have kids, teach them this kind of peace, too.
“Life begins the day you start a garden.”
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