Health benefits to gardening

Did you know that gardening is not only great exercise, but that playing in the dirt can keep you healthy both physically and mentally?

It’s true. Dirt has so many different things growing in it, it actually helps build your immune system by exposing you to these microbes. In fact, the BBC recently did an article all about how it can help.

Here’s just a few reasons why gardening is great for your health:

  • Good exercise when digging or planting
  • Exposes you to sunshine for vitamin D (wear sunscreen!)
  • Dirt microbes can help strengthen your immune system
  • Peaceful space for a mental health break
  • Growing your own food is not only an accomplishment but can also be more nutritious
  • Growing flowers can help the pollinators, which help food production
  • Great bonding experience with children or friends (unless you prefer alone time)

How to grow the best greens in your garden

Fall and winter gardens can be the best time to grow plants of the year, in my opinion.

There are fewer pests, the weather isn’t extremely crazy depending on where you live and plants take less watering and maintenance.

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Greens like kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, swiss chard and collards are great to grow in the cooler weather. Once established, almost all of those greens will survive a freeze. Kale can even be harvested while covered in snow.

Here are some tips to start your own greens:

  • Choose the right spot to grow them – they need a good amount sun, especially in the winter
  • Choose the right container, if you’re looking for great ones, try these cloth bags. I highly recommend them.
  • Refresh your existing dirt with some all-purpose fertilizer (I like this one for starting new plants) or pour in new dirt with built-in fertilizer
  • Choose good looking plants from your garden store OR* start your own from seed by following the planting depth instruction on the back of the packet
  • Water until seedlings emerge or plant is established. After, water when soil is dry.
  • Every 6 weeks or so, fertilize with a “fish fertilizer” (like this one I recommend) to feed your plants and keep them going strong
  • Harvest often by cutting just the larger leaves from the outer part of the plant. They’ll keep growing from the middle if kept happy.
  • If you’re going to get a hard freeze, you can protect your plants with frost cloths, like these I recommend and use every year.
  • If you get some pests like cabbage loopers, you can use neem oil, like this one.

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