d. Gardening

Planting in the Back Yard

David Hobson said:

I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.

i. Benefits of Gardening

The benefits of gardening are summed up in two words:  Health and Pleasure.  Gardening is a great source of Vitamin D.  In a study of 2349 elderly individuals it showed that gardening reduces vitamin D deficiencies by 45.7% over the control group.  Walking reduced it by 39%, fishing by 5.7%, going to the Gym by 7%.  Cycling was slightly higher at 53%.    In a 2006 study following 2800 people over 65 for a period of 18 years, showed a 36% reduction in dementia risks over the non-gardening control group.  With respect to exercise and physical fitness 3 hours of gardening was equivalent to 1 hour of gym workout.  Direct contact with the soil that contains millions of germs and bacteria builds the body’s natural immunity.  In a study out of the Netherlands, it was found that gardening reduces stress and increases mood as measured by lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood.  Gardening improves hand strength.  It also motivates people to switch to a healthy diet and to grow their own vegetables.  The AARP also found that it helps to combat loneliness. 

ii. Gardening Reduces Fears

Gardening also reduces fears.  Being in touch with nature, it brings people in contact with bugs, spiders, worms, ants and prickly plants.  It shows how life is inter-connected.  Some bugs are good and some are not.  Scary Praying Mantises are good and eat bad grasshoppers.  Spiders are good and eat bad flies, mosquitoes, and other insects.  Ladybugs are good and eat bad aphids.  Worms are good and loosen the soil to hold more water.  This observation of nature reduces fears.   

Of all of the hobbies, gardening might provide the best over-all health benefits. 

iii. Try Growing Something

To start out, place three toothpicks around the center of an avocado seed, suspend it in a plastic cup filled with water and locate it in a sunny exposure on the kitchen counter.   Change the water every week or whenever it becomes cloudy.  The webpage from HGTV provides many details on this process. 

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