I enjoy gardening. I don’t spend much money on my garden or plant things that are hard to grow. Many of the plants in my garden started out as cuttings from friends. This makes those plants extra special to me. Others were bought at markets, op shops or fetes. Alfred Austin summed up the benefits of gardening, ‘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.’
Digging in the garden and then kneeling and planting some seeds or seedlings gets one back in touch with nature. It is very relaxing. There is something to look forward to. Someone once said, ‘Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow.’ You will either get some flowers down the track or a crop of fresh vegies. I love to pick fresh flowers and put them in vases around the house.
Spending some time in the garden is a good way to get some sunshine and a dose of Vitamin D (remember the sunscreen and a hat in warmer weather). Sunlight helps to ward off depression. Gardening itself is helpful in combating depression. Serotonin (the happy chemical) is released when we have contact with the soil and a soil bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae. Research has shown that people who garden regularly are more likely to be happy than those who don’t garden.
It is amazing how quickly some plants grow and I don’t just mean the weeds. I look around my garden at things I planted a few months ago and am pleased with how much they have grown. Also some plants have thrown seed and so new free plants are coming up. The bulbs I planted last spring have divided and multiplied and will continue to do so over the years. It is not just the plants which bring me joy but also the birds that come into the garden. I have planted some Australian natives in the hope more birds will be attracted in time.
Getting out in the garden is healthy for your body. It is a good opportunity to get fresh air and take some deep breaths. Gardening provides you with exercise and you achieve something at the same time. The exercise you get and the fresh air will help you sleep soundly at night.
As Austin says, gardening feeds the soul. A garden is a place of peace. While you are gardening you can contemplate life or work out solutions to your problems. You may also come up with some creative ideas while you are in the peaceful environment of your garden.
Growing vegetables saves money and the taste of fresh vegies from your own garden is much better than old vegies that have travelled half way round the country. I love fresh sweet corn picked and then popped straight into boiling water for a couple of minutes until heated through. You can’t beat it, eaten immediately with a bit of real butter. (Okay, so it is many years since I have grown corn myself but I do have plans to grow some this year.) You can swap excess vegetables with friends and neighbours. Some towns are now setting up swap markets where people can swap their fruit and vegetables and other produce. This type of thing encourages a community spirit.
Gardening really is good for the body and the soul. Next time you are feeling a bit down in the dumps head outside into the garden and pull a few weeds or pick some flowers. It could be the ‘medicine’ you need to improve your mood.