ORGANIC GARDENING By Deborah Kates
I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face. — Langston Hughes
In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. — Margaret Atwood
24 | September 2018
for Exercise, Nutrition, and Some Big Nature Love
h, Spring-birds tweeting, sweet soft breezes, flowers unfolding and worms poking their heads up in the dirt? Oh be still my heart, because that’s my call to get down and dirty with my favorite force of nature—Organic Gardening. Done without synthetic fertilizers and often toxic pesticides and herbicides that mess with the plants, the soil (aka good dirt), the water, and the air, gardening is not just better; it’s great, and loaded with benefits. So let me count the ways. Stress. It increases bad cholesterol, knots you up, and generally can shorten your life. Getting outside is a simple way to put it aside and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Most of us know this, but it’s finally being examined scientifically. A British study indicates that spending time with nature does help handle stress and creates the happiest people. This is because being in the garden allows you to pack away troubles, be centered, dream a little, and feel nature communicating. Really, plants actually do talk to each other. It’s called allelopathy. Plants and trees use chemical stimulators, repressors and hormones to directly influence their surroundings by attracting other friendly plants and bugs that help growth, pollination, and provide reciprocal nutrients. Simply summarized they chemically blow off botanical bullies that can hog available sun, moisture or nutrients as well as discourage pests looking for a snack. So why not get in on the gossip? It may sound crazy, but I talk to my vegetable and flowering plants all the time, feeling their leaves and flowers, thanking them for just being, and while I’m at it helping them out by checking for unwelcome insects and their eggs. The beautiful produce and blooms are thanks a-plenty. Stress relieved—check. Improved mental outlook—check. Gardening can be an outdoor gym. Burn 250 to 350 calories an hour digging (with the knees of course, not the back), lifting, weeding, raking, squatting, and hauling two gallon watering cans like sloshy barbells—it’s a real workout. And it’s guilt-free. The mind loves to play tricks on the sometimes reluctant body to keep us from those planks, walks, lifts, runs, etc. when we’re not in the mood. But the mind gets fooled into enjoying tending to the living things that will provide your perfect diet of fresh stuff as well as bloomin’ eye candy. Because it just doesn’t seem like work! You are what you eat. A good organically grown garden provides all you need for what any
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