We’re toward the end of “April Showers” phase of gardening and soon we’ll be moving into “May Flowers,” which can be a fine time for residents of Anamosa and elsewhere to start heading outside and get going on their gardens.
True, depending on where you live, there may still be a frost or two, but by and large, the time for great gardening is nearly here, which is good news for anyone with any medical condition, including those receiving palliative care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice encourages anyone to take the effort to get going on gardening, regardless of experience, age, equipment, or overall abilities.
We’ve found that there are more positives than negatives for gardening so it can be considered the perfect activity. And the negatives are pretty minor too, such as the risk of getting your hands dirty or making your muscles a little sore if end up being out a little longer than you planned.
Now, in honor of National Garden Month, an annual celebration marked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other pro—gardening organizations, it’s time to hear about some of the positives.
- Gardening is great exercise. Every part of the act of gardening can be considered wonderful for your physical health. Some tasks are low impact, some are medium impact and some are high impact. Sitting and dead-heading flowers might not burn too many calories but moving around bags of soil, moving garbage cans, or digging in the soil can be a great workout. You can go at your own pace, which is nice, and you can also stop and rest whenever you need a breather. If you do it regularly and vary the intensity of your activities, you can make it a habit and gain muscle and improve flexibility while losing weight.
- It’s good for mental health. Besides providing physical boosts, gardening can offer many ingredients to feel better mentally and emotionally. You’re creating beautiful and soothing things from nothing. Everything you touch is under your control. It can be therapeutic to be stretching and digging in the dirt while your brain thinks about other matters, not unlike yoga. It can be calming and ground you as well, and a solitary activity or something you can do with others around, whatever suits you. Plus, a lot of gardening takes place in sunlight which also has plenty of power to boost people’s mood and reduce stress. A colorful, well-arranged garden can also be esthetically pleasing.
- Anyone can do it. Certainly, there are experts who have been doing this for years and know different types of complex info about fruits and vegetable strains or appropriate water and soil levels. Just like any activity, there are people who take it seriously and love it. At the same time, there are people who don’t know a whole lot who still like to try or start from scratch. They’re not sure what they’re growing but they’re enjoying the process. So even a bag of random wildflower seed or planting a variety of vegetables can pay off even if only a few grow successfully. Every gardener is somewhere on the spectrum, and there’s plenty of opportunities to learn. This can include everything from a local master gardener group to gardening magazines and TV shows to videos. Your local hardware and garden store also might offer some pointers for getting started, including basic supplies, even if you have limited space – like a window garden for an apartment.
- You can create your own food or flowers. Either one could be grown with pride, especially if you share what you’ve done. Maybe cut some flowers and make a beautiful arrangement for your home or present it to someone. Or pick some vegetables for an upcoming meal, washing them first. You’ll likely find that the produce you pick tastes richer and fuller than what you may buy from the grocery store. Plus you’ll be saving on your shopping budget if a chunk of your food comes from your own garden. Or, if you don’t want it yourself, there are always friends, neighbors, or local food banks.
- Gardening is great for the environment. The more plants you grow, the better for the planet as far as producing oxygen. Certain plants known as pollinators attract bees which helps other plants thrive. And these are generally the less aggressive bees who try to stay out of reach rather than the more dangerous bees like wasps or hornets. Gardening also makes good use of soil which can promote future growth if it’s handled well.
This list can be easily expanded for five or 50 more benefits. You don’t need fancy equipment. You can always try again next season if something doesn’t work out – no harm done.
Because so many people enjoy gardening, there’s no end to advice or suggestions. Gardening is also a fine conversation topic and easy common ground, even if you don’t know much about someone else or don’t know what else to talk about.