While many of our readers already enjoy the benefits of gardening, some of you may have been waiting until you had more time to enjoy the pleasure of growing your own flowers or edibles. So, if you haven’t discovered the joys of gardening yet, we have some tips to get you started.
Why garden for health?
There are many health benefits to tending a garden. Firstly, you get to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The virtues of being in nature are also well documented to assist in both our physical and mental health.
Gardening is a great stress reliever. Working the soil, planting seeds or seedlings, and watching them grow gives us something else to think about and also ends in a certain level of achievement when our garden flourishes.
You might be surprised to learn that even weeding can be a good way to relax if you do it correctly. If you find bending down or kneeling difficult, get yourself a little stool that you can sit on, don your gardening gloves, grab a good weeding tool and lose yourself for half an hour pulling out those weeds. We think it’s as good as meditation.
Plus, researchers have found that a certain compound in the soil (Mycobacterium vaccae) can actually help to boost the level of serotonin in the brain. This in turn helps us to feel happier, more positive, and more relaxed.
Tip: If you’re unsure of the quality of your compost or potting mix, make sure it’s damp before you use it and wear a mask and gloves. Some inferior mixes have been reported to contain Legionella bacteria so stay safe and wash your hands thoroughly after gardening.
On top of that, gardening is a great physical activity that keeps our bodies moving without adding too much strain, unlike other types of physical activities.
Then, there are the social aspects of gardening. If you’re an avid gardener you’ll be surprised at how many people share your passion. In fact, in almost every area, both urban and regional, there are community garden groups that always welcome new members.
Getting started on your garden
You don’t need a large backyard to start your own garden. Even people who only have access to a small courtyard or a balcony can enjoy the pleasure of growing their own plants.
You don’t even have to spend hours working over the soil. These days, raised bed gardening is all the rage and this is so beneficial for older people who may have difficulty bending down or kneeling on the ground.
You can find a variety of prefabricated raised beds both online and in places like Bunnings or Mitre 10. These are easy to set up. You can place a raised bed on just about any surface including grass, pavers, or even concrete.
Once you’ve assembled your raised bed, just fill it with good quality potting mix and you’re ready to start planting. You can even install an automatic watering system so you don’t have to physically water your plants. However, even this small task can be quite relaxing.
If you don’t know what to plant in your raised bed, consider just growing some herbs and a few pretty flowers. Herbs like rosemary, parsley, oregano, thyme, and basil are all really easy to grow and you’ll have the benefit of using them in your cooking.
Or, if you like a bit of spice in your life, chillies are also easy to grow and can add some lovely bright colours to your garden. Healthy greens such as spinach, silverbeet and kale are all easy to grow and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Think of how nice it would be to just go out to your garden and harvest a few fresh greens to have for dinner.
Community gardens and garden clubs
Most areas now have community gardens or garden clubs. These organisations are usually run by volunteers and always welcome new members. This is a great way to connect with avid gardeners who can give you some expert tips.
But, it’s not just all about work and no play. Many community gardens organise days where everyone gathers to do some work in the garden and then enjoy some lively conversations over a cuppa and other light refreshments.
Plus, many of these community gardens have veggie swap days where you can swap some of your excess with other members and bring home something fresh and delicious to have for dinner.
You’ll also find that some community gardens provide food hampers for people who are doing it tough. Getting involved with one of these is a great way to help others and enjoy the company of like-minded people.
Want to learn more about making the most of your next 30 years?
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