Many people enjoy making New Year’s Resolutions, so I would like to encourage you to make some gardening resolutions. Even those of you who do not typically grow anything can reap benefits from planting something, nurturing it, and watching it grow. It doesn’t have to be a large vegetable garden. A small container garden or raised bed garden will be just fine.
According to many sources, regular gardening activities increases a sense of wellness and was found to decrease a person’s health complaints, equivalent to someone five years younger. Recent research has shown that gardens and green spaces in general, provide “accelerated recovery” for hospital patients. (Ulrich, Roger; Simons, Robert; Losito, Barbara; Fiorito, Evelyn; Miles, Mark; Zelson, Michael. Stress Recovery During Exposure to Natural and Urban Environments. Volume 11, Issue 3, September 1991, pg. 201-230) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees, stating that gardening
is great exercise and motivates people to stay active longer than other activities. (CDC (April 22nd, 2014). Gardening Health and Safety Tips. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/family/gardening.)
So, with all the research showing physical as well as mental health benefits of gardening, I would like to encourage you to adopt one of my suggested gardening resolutions.
Resolution #1: Try something new. Maybe you don’t have a green thumb and really don’t know how to grow plants. No problem. Start with a couple of containers on your back patio and plant a tomato plant, some cilantro, and a couple of peppers. Very little maintenance is required, and you will have all the ingredients for fresh salsa. If you are a regular gardener, try a new plant in your landscape or a new variety of tomato in the garden. Diversity in any garden adds interest and helps with disease problems.
Resolution #2: Make a garden plan and stick to it. The more seasoned gardeners can relate to this resolution. Proper planning will help reduce weed, insect, and disease pressures. Rotating crops, mulching, or even row covers will reduce dependence on pesticides and most likely will increase yields. Start now selecting good varieties that are resistant to disease and insect pressures. Keep notes on how well the plants performed for reference next season. Plan now and stick to it.
Resolution #3: Get children involved with gardening. According to the Journal of Public Health, just being outside in the fresh air will help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and result in higher test scores with students. (Kuo FE, Faber Taylor A. A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study. American Journal of Public Health. 2004;94(9):1580-1586). Several studies show that children will eat more vegetables and
try new foods more readily if they grow the food themselves.
Losing weight, increasing exercise, and eating better are all common New Year’s resolutions. Gardening can provide a path to all three and who doesn’t enjoy fresh vegetables and showy flowers on a regular basis? Consider making some resolutions to get out, plant, and grow something and talk with your local Cooperative Extension Service if you need some advice on getting started.
Historically, I am not a fan of resolutions… and, if truth be told, I have not followed through with the few New Year’s resolutions that I have made in the past. I prefer a different label — intentions. I intend to get out, plant, and grow more this year!
Submitted by Andrew Rideout, Agent for Horticulture, Henderson Co. Cooperative Extension Service