In the Garden:
Lower South
January, 2008
Regional Report

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Pole bean tepees are fun and nutritious for kids of all ages.

Gardening for Your Health

There are a lot of great reasons to garden. It's fun and relaxing and it provides a great hands-on opportunity to beautify your homescape. Gardening also offers us many health benefits.

Anytime we get outside and engage in physical activity our bodies benefit from it. Fresh air, cardiovascular activity, and physical exercise are among the many dividends we receive from working in the garden. With all the special tools now available, including ergonomic handles and kneeling pads, we can enjoy the exercise while minimizing discomfort.

Gardening is indeed good exercise. However, I should add that if you don't do things properly with some wisdom and forethought applied at the onset, it can be great exercise! That's because you get more opportunities to work pulling weeds, digging up dead plants, and replanting, etc. (Sorry, but I just couldn't resist!)

Medical research continues to support the value of a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables when it comes to fighting cancer and other diet-related illnesses. Add to this the concern felt by many consumers regarding the use of pesticides on food crops. We care how our food was grown space and what was applied to it in the process.

When you grow things yourself, you know exactly how it was grown and have total control over what is or is not sprayed on it. You choose exactly when to harvest it. When it arrives in your kitchen, it's probably about 1,000 miles fresher. And then there's that simple satisfaction of knowing that you grow your own food.

We've been busy planting a number of greens at our house. Lettuce, arugula, spinach, and kale are among the first additions to the salad garden this spring. Cress, corn salad (mache), sorrel, radicchio, and lamb's quarters are other good salad ingredients from our gardens. Along with fresh broccoli and other cool-season crops, these greens are destined for some very tasty salads!

When you create a salad with so many unique and tasty ingredients, you can really cut back on dressings while still having a delicious and healthy meal.

Gardening for R&R
I often point out the therapeutic benefits of gardening when I speak to audiences of would-be gardeners. I am convinced that we were created to garden and are happiest when we are doing just that. Needless to say, in the biblical account there is no office or factory of Eden! When I come home from a day at the office there is nothing more relaxing, rejuvenating, and "head clearing" than spending some time out in the garden or greenhouse.

We do live in a busy world that seems to move faster and faster as time goes on. Many aspects of modern life combine to add complexity and confusion, not to mention stress. However, in the garden things are quite simple. Although infinitely complex in its inter-workings, a garden moves at a slow, peaceful pace. We are free to create or to just sit and watch. Whether you spend the day there or just a few minutes, you can look back and see instant results from your efforts.

If you've not tried gardening before because you're afraid you might fail, rest assured you can never fail at gardening. Every season and every year is a new start and a chance to experience gardening again in a new way. Our gardens are like an Etch-a-Sketch. If you don't like what you drew, just turn it upside down and shake it, and draw again!

Take advantage of this upcoming gardening season to enjoy the many benefits gardening brings to your health. Don't worry about whether or not you know how to do everything right. Learn all you can as you go. But most of all, just get out there and have fun!


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