Plant a garden, feel good
It’s springtime and once again, neighbors are planting, pruning and playing in the dirt. You’ve been tempted before, but usually the siren call of summer lures you out of the yard and onto the golf course, the mountains, the river or the bike trail before you’ve actually broken ground on a garden plot.
But nothing beats the flavor of a tomato right off the vine and food prices are projected to rise in 2011, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Fresh vegetable prices are up 8.9 percent over this time last year and overall food-at-home prices are projected to rise between 3.5 and 4.5 percent in 2011.
While the jury is still out about whether a small vegetable garden actually saves money in its first year (with the added costs of creating the garden), there is no doubt that a well-tended garden can produce incredibly tasting, nutritional summer treats.
“From a nutrition side, there’s no comparison to store-bought,” said Randall Chambers with Chambers Walk-in Chiropractic. “You know what goes in those vegetables in your garden. Various pesticides mimic hormones and can cause health issues. You can choose more organic options in a home garden.”
When it’s picked and served immediately, the fresh taste is unbeatable. Those who grow their own can pick strawberries, tomatoes or melons when they’re ripe, not when they’ll ship without turning to mush.
The added benefits of being outside, the satisfaction of a job well done and the physical activity of tending a garden all combine to make gardening a perfect summer activity for many.
“The stress relief alone is probably worth it,” Chambers said. “Anything outside is so much better than going to a gym.”
According to Chambers, who also works as a physical therapy assistant, gardening activity can also lead to an increased range of motion in the spine, hips and knees.
Simply being in a garden can lead to better emotional health, especially when the garden makes someone feel comfortable, safe and secure.
“Being associated with green is very therapeutic,” said Rick Spalenka, landscape architect and owner of RGS Designs, a therapeutic landscape design company.
According to Spalenka, there are several theories explaining the reasoning, but the bottom line is that simply being in a garden usually makes someone feel better.
Some gardens are healing gardens, designed for quiet contemplation and reflection. Others are therapeutic gardens, designed for physical and occupational therapy. A memory garden can connect Alzheimer’s patients to a peaceful, happy time in their past.
A well-designed garden at home doesn’t simply provide the gardener with an incredible tomato, but can also give her a sense of peace, a feeling of satisfaction and increased well-being.