Now that spring is here (although there’s plenty of snow still on the ground in the Northern zone where I live) it’s time to consider one of the most health giving and enriching activities you can pursue in retirement. I’m talking about gardening, especially vegetable gardening, especially organic vegetable gardening.
Gardening is Good for Body and Soul
In a 2015 article in the journal Ageing and Society—”Exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening for older adults”—the authors reported a mind-boggling array of benefits observed in their test gardeners, including:
- increased exercise and physical activity,
- better sleep from exposure to fresh air,
- lower blood pressure and strengthened immune systems from being in and observing nature (like in a previous Tuesday Tip about birdwatching),
- increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and more.
If you’re intimidated about getting started with vegetable gardening, start small, with a planter on your deck or porch. Grow some basil and heirloom tomatoes, and by mid-summer you’ll be making pesto or interlacing slices of mozzarella cheese, tasty tomatoes, and basil leaves, drizzling them with olive oil and balsamic reduction, and sitting down for a lunch with the best tastes of summer. Delicious!
While not reported in the study, I’ll give you two reasons why you should consider organic instead of conventional vegetable gardening. First, you’ll be saving your body from harmful herbicides and pesticides. Second, you’ll be adding a mental challenge to your gardening endeavors as you enrich your soil and plot to outwit the pests committed to eating your bounty before you do. Learning about and working with the ecosystem of an organic garden is like solving a challenging and beautifully-constructed crossword puzzle!
(More Tuesday Tips here.)