Gardening is a great practice for our wellness as it can touch all its dimension. We get to move our bodies and to eat healthier foods, which is amazing for our physical wellness. We see how the plants grow and we live in the present more while gardening, so our emotional and spiritual wellness aspects are enhanced. Gardening can be a great way to meet new people in the local community gardens, so social wellness is boosted. Closeness to plants is scientifically proven to boost our productivity and creativity (you can read more about this in this article), so our vocational wellness has many gains from this activity. At the same time, we spend less money on groceries, so financially we win too. Lastly, the environmental wellness benefits are incommensurable.
Gardening was part of my childhood as I grew up with my grandparents in the countryside and I recently re-discovered its amazing benefits. This is why in this article I want to take you into a step-by-step journey into gardening. You will find answers to how to get started, how to do it even when you only have a small space at your disposal, and what are the benefits of gardening for your eating routine, lifestyle and mental health, as well as beauty.
Getting Started with Gardening – Tips for beginners
Whether you have a large garden, or only your balcony or a windowsill, gardening is an easy to start project.
Selecting the right plants for your space
First step is to choose the plants that thrive in your local conditions. You can find some insights into what type of plants grow in your area using this site.
And to decide on what type of garden you want. Whether you want something contemporary, a space that is green all year round, a fresh herbs source, or a colorful corner, deciding on what you want your garden to look like is very important. Do you want a flower that blooms for a longer period but needs to be replanted each spring, or a perennial that has a shorter bloom time but flowers every year? Or maybe you want some vegetables that can contribute to your dinner table. Each one is a great choice but has different maintenance requirements.
My advice is to start small and figure it out slowly what you’re getting into depending on your choice.
Choosing the right location
Sunlight, soil quality, and proximity to water sources are all important. You do not want to put a pot in the hallway of your house if there is no source of natural light. All flowering plants need 6-8 hours of full sun each day. Tomatoes will not grow in shade, but ferns will thrive in this environment. So, check for your plants what is the perfect growing condition.
Also, if you need to walk 5 minutes to get the water to the plants, you might give up soon on this activity. Seedlings should never be allowed to dry out, so they need to be watered daily. After that, once per week may be enough depending on your soil, humidity and rainfall.
Soil is equally important. Black soils rich in nutrients are the best for plants. Otherwise, you might need to add some fertilizers to help the plants get their nutrients. Just as you need your nutrients for your body to thrive, the same goes for plants.
Tools and materials needed
There are some basic tools and materials needed for gardening, such as shovels, trowels, gloves, scissors, watering can, sprinkler, leaf rake, and soil. If you choose to do this activity at a local community garden most likely they already have the tools, but if you want to start your own garden consider the initial investment in tools and materials before starting. After the initial investment the costs are significantly lower.
Why you need those materials? Well, the first thing you must do after you choose the plants and the location is to clear the ground and to get rid of weeds and sod in the area. Loosening the soil in new beds before sowing or planting also helps roots to grow easily and access the water and nutrients.
Gardening in Small Spaces
Most of you probably have a limited space for gardening, but space is not an issue at all. Here are some tips for small-space gardening you can use whether you have only a windowsill, a balcony, or a small patio at your disposal.
Forget about classical horizontal long parallel rows of plants you usually see when picturing a garden. You can grow the same amount in a much smaller space using raised beds. At the same time, you worry less about soil compaction, water runoff, weeds, slugs, snails, and other garden pests.
Interplanting is also a great idea, which means planting layers on vertical spaces. Between bigger plants, you plant small fast-growing plants. However, take care in planting companions, not competitors. For instance, tomato and basil are good companions. You can read more about this topic here.
Start small and choose small
Almost all fruits, vegetables, and plants come in a variety of sizes. Small varieties are often labeled as “miniature”, “baby”, or “compact”, such as compact basil, baby fennel, mini eggplants, baby onions, compact zucchini, baby watermelon etc. Small varieties are often easier to cook because of their tenderness. And they are also easier to grow in a small space.
Cutting back leaves and branches with no fruit or flower allows you to have more space and to focus on the crops at the same time. Don’t be afraid to style your plants and to tell them where to grow.
Healthy Eating and Gardening
Gardening can have many benefits on your eating habits.
First, you will learn how plants grow and what they need to thrive. This way, it is more likely that next time you go vegetable shopping you will look for aspects you never noticed before. Such as the quantity of pesticides and fertilizers used and their type. Also, growing your own food allows you to better control those aspects.
Homegrown fruits and vegetables have an increased nutrient density because you use fewer chemicals to grow them and, at the same time, they grow slowly. Without a solar or a greenhouse, plants will grow slower, and this will give nutrients a larger timeframe to be absorbed. Homegrown products have higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Store-bought vegetables must be picked early so they can still survive a few days or even weeks on store shelves.
With having a garden, you will find the process of including vegetables and fruits into your diet easier, and this will have many benefits on your health and wellbeing. You will lose weight, your body will detox, your energy level will be higher, you will be happier.
Lastly, I think it is a no-brainer that fresh condiments are amazing in giving a great flavor to any food. With something as simple as filling your windowsill with some herbs pots you can have fresh condiments at your disposal at any time. Whether you need them for your cooked meal, or for a salad, fresh smoothie, or lemonade, they are always at your disposal.
Gardening for Mental Health
Gardening, and plants in general, can be a great therapeutic tool. While planting, pruning, watering, or harvesting, you are taking a mental break from your daily tasks. You are freeing yourself from worries and problems for a few minutes and living in the present. This way, gardening can be a great tool for practicing mindfulness and relaxation for those of you that want to do both and don’t know where to start. Or if you tried meditation and couldn’t slow down your mind, this can be the perfect and easiest way to achieve this.
While gardening it is scientifically proven that your stress and anxiety levels will decrease, while at the same time your productivity and creativity will be boosted. Happiness hormones will be released in large quantities, and you will feel much better.
Surprisingly, touching the soil can also improve your mood. Scientists found a bacteria that lives in the soil and that stimulates serotonin production, which makes us feel good. So getting dirty next time you go into a garden will also give you a mood improvement.
Lastly, by gardening you will see how a plant grows from the stage of seed to making fruits or flowers. Seeing this process from start to end will boost your self-confidence and give you a sense of accomplishment and life purpose. Working together with someone else on this goal can also create a sense of community and feeling of connection, not just within our soul, but also with other people and with the planet as a whole.
Beauty Benefits of Gardening
First of all, I am going to consider in this category the overall body beauty. Gardening is a form of moderate physical exercises according to the American Heart Association, so it can improve flexibility, balance, muscle strength and aerobic stamina. In one hour of mowing the lawn you burn up to 350 calories, and while pulling weeds and planting flowers up to 400 calories. While gardening, you will move your body and this way you will feel healthier and look better.
Healthy tan and vitamins
Also, spending time outside in the sun will give you a healthy dose of vitamin D and a nice tan. Healthy sun exposure can also reduce inflammations and promote collagen production, thus benefiting to your skin health. However, do not forget to use your SPF always to avoid solar burns and ageing signs.
Moreover, what we eat has an impact on our skin health. So, the extra nutrients and lack of chemicals from the products in your garden will definitely help giving your skin the extra glow and smoothness it needs. Just as much as herbal teas too. My grandma always prepared homemade chamomile tea for me as a child, which definitely has more flavor than the one found in supermarkets.
I am not a fan of DIY skincare recipes, but DIY candles and soaps are so easy to do and growing some flowers in your garden can help you in the process of adding a nice scent to them. I will start soon to produce some homemade scented candles, so if you are interested in buying some just go to my Instagram page and leave me a message. Scents around your home can help you be more creative, calm, and optimistic. They can touch those energy lines that are blocked and help you reach your potential.
Jewelries and accessories
Lastly, plants can make the perfect jewelry and accessories. I recently found a local producer that turns flower petals into rings and necklaces. Hair bands with flowers are a classic worldwide. And bracelets and rings are also great for inserting a flower for a boost of color. And the benefits of having a flower near you are numerous. You can read more about how flowers make us happy here.
UK began to lead the way towards using gardening as a wellness procedure by incorporating social prescriptions into health check-ups. Patients are now officially recommended nature-walks and community gardening for improving overall general health. I hope the rest of the world will follow soon.
Gardening is an easy to do activity with incredible benefits. You exercise your body and your mind, improve your health, boost your mood, performance, and creativity, make you glow and radiate beauty. Even doing it on a small area such as your windowsill can have a significant impact on your life.
For further reading on the power of plants, I can also recommend the interview with herbalist Jessica Baker that I recently published on my blog.
Let me know your thoughts and opinion about this article in the comments below and do not forget to share with your friends and to subscribe to my newsletter to be updated when new articles are published.