Gardening can be a fun hobby for you. And for your children also.
It is a very relaxing way to get in touch with nature. But did you know it has plenty of health benefits? It is good for both your mind and your body. It can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young to the elderly. It has an additional benefit also because you can eat the delicious fruits, vegetables, and herbs that you grow. So, get your tools out and let’s go play in the soil.
There is also an exercise benefit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it only takes about 2½ hours of moderate activity each week to help reduce the risk of many health problems which include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes.
Some people don’t think gardening isn’t exercise, but you must lift, shovel, and rake — which are all very good exercises.
Your brain also receives benefits from spending time in the garden. Being outside in the fresh air and sunshine is an effective way to boost your mood and lose some of your stresses.
Gardening has shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of depression. If you have a problem weighing on your mind, gardening will allow you to focus on an activity that will bring you joy.
Health benefits also come from the produce you grow. Gardening is a simple way to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet, and you’re sure to appreciate them even more because you grew them.
In the beginning, it may be hard to decide what to plant. If you are new to gardening, make it simple with produce that’s easy to grow and enjoy eating. Some of the recommendations are lettuce, kale, and collards.
Gardening is also an excellent and inexpensive way to try new and healthy foods that will help you and your family become more adventurous eaters. It will be fun to grow a variety of produce that is healthy. If you don’t succeed the first time, please don’t get discouraged. Eventually you will enjoy the harvest of your own fresh home grown produce.
Proper tools and safety gear are important for the gardening experience. Make sure you are wearing sunscreen, gardening gloves, and mosquito repellent (if necessary). You are encouraged to take regular breaks and drink lots of water. Remember this is an exercise. Make your gardening routine as easy as possible.
Sit on a garden stool when you get tired, get close to the objects you want to lift to reduce strain, and use a wheelbarrow for various hauling tasks is good advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when lifting heavy objects.
It is important to know if your soil is contaminated with heavy metals or other pollutants. Soil could have Tetanus bacteria. It is important to wear gloves and stay up on your vaccinations so cuts don’t become infected. It is a good idea to get your soil tested before you start gardening. There are several agencies that can test the soil for you, and it is inexpensive.
Children are very curious. And they want to help you garden. They may be focusing on the fun parts of the gardening, but they are really learning very important lessons both directly and indirectly related to health and safety. Plus, they are enjoying the benefits of eating fresh vegetables and fruits. They can witness how science and the environment and healthy eating connect.
Providing your children with age-appropriate tools and proper supervision as they explore the garden will give them some way to take ownership and reap the rewards themselves such as planting easy to grow ingredients for a delicious pizza pie at the end of the harvest season. Let them choose the vegetables, plant, water, weed, and harvest.
Some of my fondest memories are the summers I spent with my grandmother in her garden. Wouldn’t this be a cherished memory for your children?
Master Gardener events
Upcoming Sandusky-Ottawa County Master Gardener events include the GroveFest on the grounds of the Spiegel Grove in Fremont from 10 am to 2 pm
Look for the Master Gardeners at the Fremont Farmers Market from 9 am to 1 pm July 16. The theme that day is Upscale, Repurpose, and Reuse.
Susan La Fountaine is a Master Gardener with the Extension Offices of Sandusky and Ottawa Counties.