Some of you may be a little familiar with my story. I won’t bore you with it again here – LOL. However, I come from a highly dysfunctional family and my parents were both alcoholics. My mom was also on prescription drugs, plus she drank (and her physicians knew this). Enough!

Fast forward to more recent years. After many years of counseling, and after realizing that my diet was a big part of my problem, on a lark I decided to see if I was even able to grow vegetables. I had already discovered that I could grow flowering plants – something I didn’t think I could do. 

Now, mind you, I have a pint-sized back yard – it’s a condo yard. But there is room to plant, actually, quite a bit as it turns out. So, one year, I planted a zucchini plant. Lo and behold, I got 2 or 3 zucchinis that season. The next year, I planted 3 veggies. All of them survived and bore fruit, much to my surprise. 

The next year, I started adding organic soil to my miniscule garden, and I started buying organic veggie plants. They were all growing and doing well! Each year, I added more. (This year since I have cultivated my garden for years now with organic soil, I also purchased non-GMO veggies which do well in my nutrient-rich soil.)

Now all of my plants do okay, but some give more produce than others. That doesn’t bother me at all. I always have more than I can ever use, and I end up gifting it to friends…something I love doing.

This season I have planted the largest garden bed that I can. On the fence and in pots I have many flowers to enjoy – that part is just good for the soul!  I have about 12-13 veggies in that bed. I also am doing an experiment this season…I purchased a small vertical planter. There are 12 veggie plants in that. All seem to be growing…we’ll see…the season is still young! 

For those of you who have not gardened before, there is something calming about putting your hands in the soil. Maybe it’s being so close to nature – I don’t really know – but I know it’s very satisfying to me. 

Did you know that there are also mental health benefits of gardening? For example, it can improve our mood. It can help us feel better about ourselves (self-esteem). It helps us focus and improve our attention span. It also by nature gives us some needed exercise.

And did you know that green care is a thing? It’s therapy done by exposing ourselves to plants and gardening. In studies, it was found that even just viewing natural scenes had the ability to change EEG readings, reducing stress, fear, anger, sadness, as well as blood pressure and pulse rate.

Also, muscle tension improves! In yet another study, just looking at plants and trees, a group of post-operative patients experienced lowered need for medications, they had less surgical complications, and stayed in the hospital for shorter durations. Other studies have shown consistently that gardening and horticultural therapy reduces anxiety and depression. Hey, gardening even increases serotonin levels!

While gardening may not be for everyone, just hanging out in some form with nature can be very beneficial. Why not add this to our holistic toolbox of ways to keep ourselves healthy and happy?

And, as always, please have a happy and holistically healthy day!

Dr. P