As early as the 1800s, Dr. Benjamin Rush already wrote about the beneficial effects of gardening. English poet laureate Alfred Austin wrote, “To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”
From 2015 to 2016, NASA’s Human Research Program investigated the effect of caring for plants on astronauts’ stress, isolation, and loneliness while on long space missions. They experimented on the Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE), a means for scientists to grow fresh crops while on orbit. Gardening gives the astronauts tactile, visual, and olfactory stimulation, as well as salivary stimulation when they consume their produce. Astronaut Don Pettit successfully grew zucchini and broccoli. He also grew a sunflower while Commander Scott Kelly grew zinnias.
People with various long-term health conditions can improve through gardening. This activity can also benefit the general well-being and quality of life of healthy adults, children, and older people. These are the conclusions of a paper, published in BMJ Journal, that reviewed 77 studies from 1990 to 2020.
Results show an overlap in the mental, emotional, physical, and social effects of gardening. People who do gardening have a higher consumption of vegetables and fruits and have lower cortisol levels, stress, anxiety, and depression. The increase in physical activity decreases body mass index and total fat and improves heart rate variability, blood lipids, blood glucose levels, and systolic/diastolic blood pressure. This helps people who are suffering from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other chronic diseases.
Planting a Food Garden in Your Yard
While an ornamental garden provides the same physical activity and enjoyment, planting vegetables, fruits, and herbs has the added satisfaction of providing food for the table. In this time of high prices and the pandemic dangers of going out for food shopping often, it helps a lot to have a supplemental food source at home.
Growing food instead of ornamental plants is also earth-friendly. You maximize the use of land space and water for food growing instead of just decorative purposes. You can still make your edible garden look aesthetically pleasing with good planning.
Before you start planting vegetables, fruits, and herbs, you must first clear your home and surroundings of vermin and insects that are harmful to both humans and plants. Hire a professional pest control service that uses only solutions approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be safe for the home. If you have trees in your yard, it is important to have these sprayed as well.
Once you clear your home, you can start planning your garden. If you have a yard, there is much you can do. Check what fruits and vegetables thrive in your local weather. If winter in your area is harsh, you will need to build a greenhouse. Also, choose the fruits and vegetables you prefer to eat because once they flourish you will have a lot on your hands.
Some localities have rules about the curbside look of homes. Be sure you know the guidelines where you live. You can work around these by growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs in ornamental planters. You can still do beautiful landscaping with these plants.
Growing a Garden with Edible Plants Indoors
Even if you only have a balcony, you can still grow a food garden in pots and small trellises. Supplement this with edible plants inside the house. Position them near windows where they can get adequate sunlight or swap them regularly with those on the balcony.
Plants make great accents to your interiors as the greenery livens up space and makes it feel like an extension of the outdoors. Having plants indoors also converts your carbon dioxide output into fresh oxygen. It further improves the quality of your indoor air by filtering toxins.
You can make a green wall by hanging a painted wire mesh against one wall and then hanging small pots from it. You can plant the same vegetable for uniformity or make a pattern with rows of different vegetables. You can also use this as a trellis by hanging the pots at the bottom and planting vines that will grow upwards, such as tomatoes.
You can also experiment with hydroponics where you grow plants on the water with a mineral nutrient solution instead of soil. There are many different designs of vertical and horizontal hydroponic planters that you will surely find one that fits your interiors.
Your Tiny Farm
Tending to your tiny farm will surely make you healthier and happier. Imagine waking up early every day to water your plants and check on the growth of each one. A new leaf or bud becomes a cause for celebration.
For many people, plants become their babies, just like pets. They talk to their plants and feed them the best nutrients for their kind. These growers take pride in their work and their harvest.
Imagine also planning your meals around your daily fresh produce. You will eat better, and your food will be much tastier. If you have too much supply on hand, you can freeze or preserve them, or sell them to neighbors, or give them as gifts. You will have so much bounty that you will always be grateful every day.