Holland: The benefits of gardening are yours, just for the picking

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Teresa Holland

Gardening coach Janet Killburn Phillips once said, “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

This is a great quote and for most of us, so true. I know that all my garden plants are experiments. It does not matter if I have planted the peppers before, or even the same variety. There are so many other factors that can figure into the equation. All of this can impact how things turn out for the harvest.

The temperature, how wet or dry it is, how strong the plants are to start with are just a few things that I can blame it on. Of course, even the hardiest and early promising garden can be found by an adventuresome hungry groundhog or wayward rabbit. Hopefully, they will find better enticing food sources.

Why even bother with a garden? Why not? Chances are rather good that you will have more than enough zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, or other fresh treats to share. Why pass up a chance to grow even one thing if only for your own table? It might even save you a little at the grocery store during the growing season. Besides, there is no tastier tomato than one Indiana grown! Anyone who plants a seed is filled with hope that it is going to grow. Gardening can satisfy a curiosity in just waiting to see what will happen. There can be pleasure in knowing that you grew it yourself. Plus, it is fun to share your extra bounty with others. If these are not reasons enough, there are some health benefits to gardening also. Some of these that gardening can help with are:

Boosting your mood by spending some time in nature, even if it is in the backyard.

It can help relax you and help to reduce stress levels.

It can help with eating healthier with more fresh vegetables easily available.

It can help you get a little more exercise by walking and gentle stretching. If you are new at this, you may need to start slow or do in short intervals.

It can help you get some fresh air and a little sunshine.

How big does your garden need to be? It only needs to be as big as you can manage or have energy for. It can be a small plot, or just a narrow strip of dirt beside the fence or patio, or even a few different size flowerpots that are easier for you to weed. Cherry tomatoes are a prime candidate for a large pot that yields a generous bumper crop. If you want to involve the whole family, give the kids a pack of zinnias or sunflower seeds. These are easy and it can be fun to see who grows the tallest sunflower. The birds will also love these.

The key to success, though, is to grow plants that grow well in your climate and your planting zone. No matter whether it is vegetables or just a love of flowers, there is a garden waiting just for you. But remember, there are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

Teresa Holland is a guest columnist, writer, and retired advanced-practice registered nurse. Send comments to [email protected].