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Gardening: 8 Reasons To Get Your Hands Dirty
Author: Marla Tabaka
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

As my children were growing up I would tell them that all I wanted for Mother’s Day was a day off to work in the garden. Although it can be strenuous work there’s nothing like the renewed energy and spirit that comes from having your hands in the soil or, in my case, soil and water. One-third of my backyard is occupied by a beautiful koi pond--born of grief and healing the summer after my husband passed away some years ago.

Today, our beautiful pond is symbolic of much more than a healing experience—it represents unlimited possibilities, celebration, togetherness, and love. My girls and I spent five long months laboring away to dig a long, wide, three-foot deep hole, and carting in literally tons of rock. That summer we crafted what would be a sculpted representation of our ability to thrive under life’s most challenging of circumstances. The daunting project wore us out to the point that we could think of nothing but the work at hand, it challenged us in every way, made us laugh (and cry), and exercised our creativity muscles. By fall we’d somehow built a long bubbling brook that empties into a mesmerizing pool of water, its own little aquatic ecosystem.

Most often projects like these are not prompted by sorrow. Still, gardening is a healing, uplifting experience no matter what its inspiration. It is also an outlet for creative and artistic expression. Certainly, your business also offers such an outlet, but being outdoors working with nature’s medium offers benefits beyond those that meet the eye.

Boosts the immune system.
Soil is a rich source of natural bacteria, minerals, and microorganisms. Some researchers say that touching the soil regularly exposes the body to beneficial microorganisms that can boost the immune system. While dirt does dry the skin (at least it does mine), I don’t wear gloves when I garden. There’s just something about having my bare hands in the soil that feels right.

Relieves stress.
Most self-employed people would not trade places with an eight to five employee, but it’s certainly not because running a business is stress-free. What beats being in the fresh air with your mind free to contemplate nothing but bringing beauty to your home? In all of its simplicity, the complexity of nature is awe-inspiring. As you work in your garden try to focus on the smallest of details: the little creatures, shape of the rocks, and the intricacy of your plants. Somehow, it puts our problems into perspective.

Grounds you.
Touching the earth with bare skin is said to ground the built-up positive electrons in the body caused by the electromagnetic frequencies that surround us. Some believe that these frequencies lead to inflammation and disease; grounding ourselves on the earth may remove this extra, unwanted charge.

Boosts your pride.
I love entertaining at any time of the year, but summer is the best since I can show off my pond. The planters I fill with annuals and perennials also offer an opportunity to express my creativity, so I have new art to show off each year. The beauty you bring to your garden is relaxing, intriguing and brings joy to others. It attracts and sustains small creatures and insects. Who wouldn’t feel proud of such an accomplishment?

Offers cardio vascular support.
The labor involved in mowing your lawn and lifting and carting heavy plants and rocks can get your heart rate up. Naturally, this offers many benefits, including the much-needed stress relief mentioned above.

Increases your vitamin D.
An estimated 40%-75% of people are deficient in vitamin D. This vital vitamin/hormone is not abundant in our food choices, but supplements and sun exposure may bring your levels up, so you may enjoy the many benefits that vitamin D has to offer. Naturally, be sure to wear a good sunscreen, you’ll still get the vitamin D you need.

Gives you a natural food source.
If you have enough room and sunshine you may enjoy having your own vegetable and herb garden. This helps to ensure that your family is getting chemical-free nutrients. I love cooking with my home-grown herbs, especially basil. Oh, and don’t forget the peppermint for those delicious mojitos! You can even incorporate your own lavender into soaps, scrubs and candles.

Improves indoor oxygen quality and boosts energy.
Bring nature inside! Research and experiments have shown that office workers are more productive, focused and energized when surrounded by plants. With proper care and preparation many tropical patio plants will thrive indoors in the winter months so you may enjoy the health benefits. Cut flowers bring color to a room and may even lift your spirits. As I design and replenish my flower beds each year I make sure to have a nice variety of blooms to cut and enjoy indoors.

Gardening is just plain good for the soul. If you live in a condo or apartment, but have a balcony, container gardening is a fabulous way to get your fix. It’s a versatile hobby, offering family bonding time, or much-needed time alone. If you’ve never gotten into gardening, don’t be intimidated. Start with a few large pots and you’ll get hooked!



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