The weather is getting nice. And, as restrictions ease around the country, we want to get back outside. Gardening can be a gentle form of exercise that leaves you with beautiful flowers, a sense of accomplishment or homegrown vegetables on your dinner table.
Research from Princeton Univ. found that gardening boosts happiness and mental health as much as going to a restaurant, walking or cycling. Vegetable gardens were seen to be more beneficial than flower gardens. The study had 370 people use an app to self-report their mood while doing many different activities. People who gardened spent more time doing their hobby than people who pursued other hobbies.
“Gardening could provide the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables, promote physical activity, and support emotional well-being, which can reinforce this healthy behavior,” said the lead author, Anu Ramaswami. “Many more people garden than we think, and it appears that it associates with higher levels of happiness similar to walking and biking.”
Gardening is in style right now, it gives us a sense of accomplishment, it fills time, it’s a way to get outside and it’s fun. People like learning it because, as a home gardener, if you mess up, the consequences are minuscule. Even if something doesn’t grow, you’ll have spent time outside. People are calling them “victory gardens” like during World War II. Then people were combating low supplies of food, now we are fighting to stay out of the supermarket.
Gardening is something you can learn online. And, if you have questions, you can call the Plant Hotline! Just dial (202) 226-4785. They can advise you on any questions you have. Gardening can give you a great sense of accomplishment, especially when you get to eat your work or share it with others! What plants will grow well in your garden vary by zones. You can determine which zone you are in to find out what will thrive in your yard and when you should put it in the ground.
Kasey Eaves runs a community garden and small gardening service company and has advice for gardeners who are just starting out is to start with “lettuce, arugula, peas or bush beans, which grow fast and do well in lower light conditions if you’re starting them indoors.” You can start your plants inside by planting seeds in yogurt cups or Tupperware and then move it into the outdoors when it’s a sprout. She even has advice for out to make an indoor greenhouse. “A roasted chicken container from Costco makes a great starter greenhouse in a sunny window,” she said. “Don’t have seeds? Ask neighbors or go on a local Facebook group.”
Gardening can create a beautiful outdoor space. Experts are telling us to go out more as the risk of catching COVID-19 in the open air is minimal. You can invite a friend over to see your little plants as they grow and enjoy a cup of coffee together.