by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
We have covered some interesting trends over the past years as more people are attracted to plants and gardening. Hashtags like #PlantParenthood are common. Fast-forward to 2020, and the magnetic draw to gardening has only grown stronger.
Many new faces were in the garden center this spring, seeking their first experience with plants. I’ve asked these new gardeners what compels them to garden and rarely put into words their desire. The current economic and health scare has brought us back to nature.
In researching this article, I found this quote from WebMD, “Take advantage of the gym growing right outside your front door.” Garden Centers never thought they could compete with local fitness centers either. The appeal of gyms closed with the COVID scare renewed interest in the health benefits, fresh air, and activity gardening is famous.
In the WebMD article ‘Get Fit in the Garden,’ they say, “Gardening is a good way to whittle down your waistline. Thirty minutes of garden exercise (for a 180-pound person) burns calories for activities like Planting Seedlings – 162 calories, Weeding -182 calories, and General Gardening -202 calories.”
Another article on GardeningKnowHow.com titled ‘Garden Fitness: Learn About Exercise In The Garden‘ mentions “gardening contributes to healthy living. Approximately 300 calories an hour are burned just by gardening. You burn calories, and in the end, you’ll have a beautiful landscape to show for it. “
Gardening also helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, prevent diabetes, heart disease, depression, and osteoporosis when practiced regularly.”
A New Trend… Migration Back to Rural Areas
We are at the leading edge of a new trend by some ‘ditching’ big city living in favor of less dense population centers. There is an intensified desire for garden knowledge that comes with this migration.
As we’ve seen this spring, the importance of herbs, vegetable, fruits, and farm-related products are a recurring trend. We may even revisit the strategies for Homesteading in the coming seasons! This is an excellent opportunity for the Yavapai 4-H and FFA programs. Certainly, the 4-H pledge is attractive to the next generation. These trends and the health benefits of gardening are still increasing.
Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klien, MD, shares a fascinating thought in her article ‘The Dirt cure.’ Our connection to plants, the soil, and nature has been with us since the beginning. It is part of our DNA. We have many distractions to pull us indoors. Screen time, with activities that consume time and keep us from connecting our innate need fulfilled by nature.
During stressful times, gardening, and getting our hands in the soil can be just what’s needed. Interestingly, I found an article titled “The Dirt Cure”, published in 2017, which adds some perspective to this trend.
“What I have learned is that ultimately, it all begins with dirt. Dirt means exposure to microbes, eating fresh food from healthy soil, and spending time in nature.
Instead of letting children get dirty, we have sanitized them. We’ve sanitized their bodies with antibiotics and hand sanitizer, their home and schools with bleach, their food with pesticides, and their very lives by living more indoors. This is a problem because the bio-terrain inside our body is connected intricately to the eco-terrain outside our body.
We are part of a super-organism that includes microbes around and inside us, the food we eat, and the elements of nature: sun, soil, water, air, and plants. These elements are in constant conversation with our body’s gut, immune system, and brain, whether through their presence or absence. Most of us don’t think about soil or think of it as irrelevant to modern life. But we couldn’t be more wrong.
Soil plays a profound role in our health and happiness. Indeed, the health of our inner terrain, the internal environment of our bodies, reflects the health of our outer terrain, the world around us.”
Dr. Maya goes on to detail many benefits of “playing in the dirt” in areas like Better Nutrition, Fewer Allergies, More Phytonutrients, Better Focus and Memory, Antidepressant Effects, Clean Food, and Water, Less Stress and Better Sleep, Reduced Inflammation and more! You can read this medical garden article HERE.
Until the next issue, I’ll be helping locals garden smarter here at Watters Garden Center.