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The calendar professes that it is spring. Although it hasn’t felt much like spring here in the Seattle area, I am excited to start gardening. Right now I have some seeds started indoors and we are doing a major renovation of the garden. We are taking out the old raised beds and converting it to a square foot garden. I am going to do a whole section of medicinal herbs this year!
If gardening has never been your thing, you may be wondering why I do it when we can now buy organic produce readily at most supermarkets. Well, you actually get a lot more from gardening than just fresh produce and herbs as you will see below.
Benefits of Gardening:
- It is extremely good for your microbiome because your hands come into contact with soil-based probiotics. It is especially good for those who have allergies.
- Stress reliever: the smell of great soil is especially relaxing. Pulling weeds is similar to a form of meditation for some.
- Vitamin D exposure: so many of us are vitamin d deficient (especially up here in the higher latitudes). Although you can supplement, the best vitamin d is obtained through sun exposure. You need about 10-20 minutes a day (depending on the time of the day and the time of year). This is in shorts and a tank top and no sunscreen. You need significantly more if your legs and/or arms are covered. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to autoimmune disorders, MS, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, cancer, poor bone density, and mental illness.
- Although it might sound hippy-dippy, contact with the Earth is grounding in a literal way because the negative ions attach to the excessive positive ions (free radicals) that build up in our bodies (especially from electromagnetic waves that things like appliances and Wi-fi put out). I go barefoot as much as possible even when not gardening to take care of this healing effect. It’s not magic, it’s physics! Read, Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever, if you would like to know more.
- Produce organic food and herbs for your family for pennies. This is probably the most obvious benefit. Seeds are inexpensive and fresher produce contains significantly more nutrients than veggies and fruits that have traveled miles and miles to reach your store and wait for you to come get them. Plus, since you know exactly how the food was grown and who has touched it, you can just rinse it instead of wash or scrub it. If you do this, you can take advantage of those soil-based probiotics by ingesting them! If that isn’t an option though, you can buy soil-based probiotics.
- Get a work out without feeling like you are working out!
What do you do if you don’t have space for a garden?
You don’t actually need a lot of space to grow things. If you live in the city without a yard, you may be able to find a pea patch nearby to grow some veggies. Also, you can grow many types veggies in pots on a balcony. If you don’t have a balcony, you can grow herbs in a windowsill. There are so many benefits to adding fresh herbs to your cooking and if you have them on hand, you are much more likely to start putting them in your food. In an effort to persuade you to at least start an herb garden, let me break down some of the health benefits of common culinary herbs.
This post, on apartment gardening from Tiny Yellow Bungalow has great ideas for gardening in small spaces!
Health Benefits of common culinary herbs:
- Oregano: This powerful herb is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and detoxifying. It is great for your digestion and boosts your immunity. The b vitamins in oregano help with energy and metabolism. It also contains omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and calcium. If you would like to know more about this amazing herb, go here.
- Thyme: Is an mood-boosting anti-septic and anti-bacterial herb! It is good for sore throats and coughs. It contains vitamin C, vitamin A, and many minerals. Go here for more information on Thyme.
- Cilantro: Helps to rid the body of heavy metals! High in antioxidants. Improves blood sugar and sleep. There are many more benefits. Go here to learn more if you are interested.
- Basil: Is anti-inflammatory, and improves blood sugar and cardiovascular health and is cancer-inhibiting. You could also grow Holy Basil (aka Tulsi). This version of basil is considered an adaptogen that combats stress. I love to have a cup of Holy Basil tea in the evening and will be growing it this year in my medicinal garden. Culinary basil is full of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C. Go here to learn more.
- Mint: Aside from the uplifting, stress-reducing scent and always being prepared for mojitos, having this herb on hand can help with an upset tummy, improve digestion, cure nausea and headaches. It is also helpful for coughs and asthma. Go here to learn more about mint.
- Parsley: This is a very detoxifying herb loaded with antioxidants. It is a diuretic (relieves water retention) and is anti-septic and anti-inflammatory, Go here for more information.
- Sage: This herb lowers inflammation, improves cognitive function, boosts your immune system and improves skin health. Go here if you would like to know more.
- Dill: An anti-microbial herb that can help with depression, aid digestion, lower cholesterol and even repel bugs. Contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. Go here for more information. Put it in your lacto-fermeted sour pickles or a probiotic tartar sauce.
Other reasons to start a garden:
- Gardening can help the planet! This post on Eco-friendly landscaping from Healthy Green Savvy explains how starting a garden in your little corner of the world can help the planet!
- It can provide bonding time with your children. This post on gardening with kids by Eco Living Mama and this post, Why I let my kids play in the dirt, from Fit as a Mama Bear both highlight the many benefits of getting children in the garden.
Do you garden? If not, are you tempted to start? I would love to hear from you!