7 Reasons Why Now is A Perfect Time to Plant a Vitality Garden.

First, what is a Vitality Garden?  It is the 2020 version of the victory gardens that were planted during war times as a practical way to contribute to the war effort.  Victory gardens were small vegetable, herb and fruit gardens planted in parks and yards during WWI and WWII to support the war effort.

World War II – Victory Garden Poster

Civilians were encouraged to Sow the seeds of victory by planting their own vegetables, to ease the demand on an overburdened food system.  Children were mobilized to enlist as Soldiers of the soil.

In our current war against COVID-19, I believe it is only fitting that we Sow the seeds of vitality and become Champions of the soil” by planting what I call a Vitality Garden.

At this point you may be thinking, “We don’t have a food shortage,” or, “What does gardening have to do with COVID – 19?” 

I’M GLAD YOU ASKED…..

There is no shortage of stress-inducing realities that we are all facing, with cancelled travel, lost jobs, school closings, and limited social interaction.  It’s looking like this may be the case for the foreseeable future. Recent studies are providing evidence that gardening can provide substantial mental and physical health benefits, including reductions in stress, anger, fatigue, and depression and anxiety symptoms.

Vitality is “the state of being strong and active; energy, the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things,” the perfect antidote for stress and uncertainty.

From planning to planting, a Vitality Garden will help you not only survive, but thrive in these stressful, uncertain times, not to mention the benefit of fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers you will grow. 

7 BENEFITS OF PLANTING A VITALITY GARDEN

1. THERAPEUTIC EFFECT

Studies suggest that inhaling   Mycobacterium vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil, triggers the release of serotonin and dopamine during gardening activities, providing a natural way to reduce anxiety depression.

Serotonin and dopamine are two of the four proven “Happy” chemicals our body produces. 

Gardening has been a part of mental health profession for centuries with the common outcome of decreasing depression and anxiety symptoms,   and it is equally as beneficial today.

2. EXERCISE MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD

One of the great benefits of exercise is the release of endorphins, another proven “Happy” chemical.  Endorphins are healing hormones that mask pain and give you a rush of good feelings.  This can also help to deal effectively with stress.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends gardening or raking for 30-45 minutes as examples of how to prevent and control high blood pressure. 

As an added benefit, gardening burns calories and helps you lose weight. One study found that less than half of gardeners were overweight or obese, compared to nearly 70 percent of non-gardeners.  

3. YOU SLEEP BETTER

Sleep is so vital to good health; this is a benefit you shouldn’t ignore.  Gardening is something you can do to help improve your sleep.  Gardening is very good for insomnia sufferers who also experience anxiety.

Spending time in nature has restorative effects for human emotions. Gardens invite the opportunity to slow down and simplify; thereby helping one to detach from the busyness of life and step into a quieter evening, creating an environment conducive to sleep.

4. OPPORTUNITY FOR FAMILY TIME, LEARNING & WORKING TOGETHER

Gardening can be a solo activity, or an opportunity for bonding with your family. 

A Vitality Garden, no matter the size, will provide a place for the family to be together and work together. The happiness and stress relief that gardening provides is a great thing to share with loved ones.

Working together on your garden with your children is bonding time, as you create memories from your experiences in the garden. While your children learn a lifelong love of growing things, they also get practice in following direction, and increasing their memory span as well as exercising their mind in terms of memory, logic and safety judgement. 

You don’t have to worry too much about kids playing in the dirt. Early exposure to dirt has been linked to all kinds of long-term health benefits, from reducing allergies to autoimmune diseases.  Exposure to the outside environment can be extremely beneficial in helping your child to grow a functional immune system and grow their brain and their body in the best way possible.”

You may even end up instilling a serious love of gardening in your kids as they build a greater awareness of living things around them and learn about where our food really comes from. 

5. INCREASE IN STRENGTH & FLEXIBILITY

There’s just something wonderful about having your hands in the soil.  

Gardening activities give mild to moderate exercise in coordination, strength, stamina and physical activity, motivating you to walk, stoop, bend, reach and maintain balance.     

Digging in the soil, planting, and pulling weeds provides a great opportunity to increase your hand, arm and upper body strength and flexibility.  

6. PLANNING & GOAL SETTING

Gardening provides purposeful, constructive activity that involves both mind and body.

As you embrace your new goal and take small steps toward it every day, your brain will reward you by releasing dopamine (Remember the Happy chemical?) along the way. This is why many times, the process of working toward a goal can be more rewarding than actually achieving the goal.

Success-oriented activity builds a “can-do” attitude.  With each success in your Vitality garden, you will gain more self-confidence.  You can sow literal seeds as well as figurative ones for your self-esteem by developing a sense of purpose and achievement.    

A couple of lawn chairs sitting on top of a grass covered field

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7. PROVIDES A SANCTUARY

You will get plenty of fresh air, exercise, and peace and quiet right in your little garden. It provides an opportunity for creativity and self- expression and enthusiasm for the future.

A Vitality garden provides the reassurance to those who may be concerned about the future, that the great cycles of the seasons are part of even greater rhythms of the universe. 

A garden is one of the most common ways to interact with nature.  It is a wonderful place to reflect, meditate, listen to the voices of nature, enjoy the fruits of your efforts, and show gratitude for good health, food, shelter and love – all we really need.

A picture containing bench, sitting, park, bed

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NOW… LET’S “PLANT A GARDEN FOR VITALITY!”

What better time to grow your Vitality Garden than now?  Here’s how to get started and get a little dirt under your nails.    

Your Vitality Garden can include not only herbs and vegetables for food, but also flowers to attract pollinators and good bugs to naturally fight harmful pests.  You can throw in a water feature and some whimsical garden art for aesthetic and meditative pleasure.  If you don’t have much space for a garden, consider raised beds, window boxes, and container gardening.  A “square foot” garden bed is ideal for planting small areas with salad vegetables and greens.

Square Foot Garden

Here are several great links to help you get started with your Vitality garden.

Vegetable Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/home-vegetable-gardening-a-quick-reference-guide

Vegetable Gardening 101

https://gardening.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/03/vegetable-gardening-101-3/

Free courses on gardening

https://garden.org/courseweb/

Great link to a free garden planner, and pre-planned gardens

https://www.gardeners.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-Gardeners-Site/default/KGP-Design?SC=XNET0281

Vegetable, Fruit, and Herb Guide – free e-book series

https://garden.org/learn/library/foodguide/

Free seed catalogs.  Seed catalogs are more than a source of seeds.  They are also a source of information and inspiration. 

https://practicalselfreliance.com/seed-catalogs/

Vegetable plants

https://garden.org/greenpages/browse/checkbox/1/

Seeds

https://garden.org/greenpages/browse/checkbox/30/

Good bugs and bad bugs in your garden

https://www.gardentech.com/blog/pest-id-and-prevention/identifying-good-and-bad-bugs-in-your-garden-infographic

A Gardener’s guide to soil testing.

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/a-gardeners-guide-to-soil-testing

Soil test forms and information

http://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/uyrst.htm

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