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.

A. Benefits of Gardening.

The benefits of gardening are summarized in two words:  Health and Pleasure.  Outdoor gardening is an excellent source of Vitamin D.  A study of 2349 elderly individuals showed that gardening reduces vitamin D deficiencies by 45.7% over the control group.  Walking reduced it by 39%, fishing by 5.7%, and going to the Gym by 7%.  Cycling was slightly higher at 53%. 

A 2006 study following 2800 people over 65 for 18 years showed a 36% reduction in dementia risks over the non-gardening control group.  Concerning exercise and physical fitness, three hours of gardening was equivalent to one hour of gym workouts. 

Direct contact with the soil that contains millions of germs and bacteria builds the body’s natural immunity.  A study out of the Netherlands 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 grow vegetables.  The AARP also found that it helps to combat loneliness. 

B. Gardening Reduces Fears.

Gardening also reduces fears.  Being in touch with nature brings people in contact with bugs, spiders, worms, ants, and prickly plants.  This repeated contact is a hidden CBT cure for these associated fears. 

It shows how life is interconnected.  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 destructive aphids.  Worms are good and loosen the soil to hold more water.  These observations of nature reduce fears.   

Of all the hobbies, gardening might provide the best overall health benefits. 

C. Try Growing Something.

To start, place three toothpicks around the center of the 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.  Watching the plant grow and reach for the sun, you will be amazed.

D. Connection in Healing Fears.

Gardening is a great way to learn about nature.    It teaches that insects create symbiotic relationships with plants.  For example, spiders help protect plants from other harmful invaders.  This helps reduce the effects of the fear of spiders. 

Very few farmers have a fear of insects or spiders.  What do you think the reason is?