I would not say I have had much of a green thumb. Most of the plants I have had didn’t survive my loving care. But for some reason, I have always dreamed of having my own garden. There is something so beautiful and magical about it.
I decided to take on my garden a few years ago. I don’t have a large yard so I purchased several pots, soil, and seeds. I also bought some young sprouted plants and a couple of fruit trees. I dreamed of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and adding homegrown herbs to my sauces.
I was in awe when I could see the first signs of something green popping through the soil. I was so proud of myself! It was like giving birth…I created this green leaf! Ok, I didn’t do much but plant and water it but I was overjoyed with watching it grow into something edible.
Unfortunately, my crop never grew into much. I had a couple of tiny strawberries but it was not what I had envisioned when I planted them. I had dreamed of strawberry jam, pies, and treats. I continued to water and pull weeds hoping for the best. I eventually started seeing a trail of half-eaten strawberries lining my fence surrounding my yard. When I caught sight of the chubbiest squirrel I had ever seen, I realized my garden had provided the neighborhood critters with an amazing buffet of treats for them.
Gardening can teach us many life lessons including persevering when you see no fruit to knowing that growth can take time. When you work hard at something you will eventually be rewarded. We have an orange tree that six years later has yet to produce any fruit but we will continue to water and take care of it because we can see that the tree is growing and healthy. It may be a slow process but any growth should be celebrated. Sometimes we can learn through gardening that you need the right environment to thrive. Just like a plant needs just the right amount of sunshine and water, we too can evaluate if our environment (work, friends, activities) is helping us grow or restricting us from our full potential.
There is something deep and spiritual about gardening. In the Bible, Jesus loved using nature and gardening illustrations in his teaching. It was a way for people to understand and relate to what he was saying. When you plant a garden, you can see what is essential for it to live, grow, and mature. You need a good foundation, nutrient-rich soil, water, and sunlight. You have to pull the weeds out so they don’t take all the nutrients away from your plants. The same things are needed for your spiritual growth. The Bible says that Christ is our foundation, we need to be fed good food through the Word, we need the light to guide us, and as we grow we need to pull any weeds out of our lives that would keep us from bearing fruit.
Gardening can teach you many life and spiritual lessons but it also has wonderful health benefits.
- Outdoor gardening can help your immune system: When you are outside and your body is exposed to the sun, your skin will absorb Vitamin D. Vitamin D increases your calcium which benefits your bones and immune system.
- Gardening can keep you physically active and burns calories. Pulling weeds, reaching for various plants and tools, and twisting and bending as you plant will work new muscles in your body and help with strength, stamina, and flexibility.
- Being in the garden has been shown to decrease stress levels, lower your blood pressure and bring you a sense of calm and happiness more than any other hobby.
- Gardening sharpens your brain. With gardening, there is always something to learn about new plants, seeds, or techniques. This will keep your brain stimulated.
- Gardening can give you a sense of empowerment. As your plants start to grow your self-esteem will too. It feels great to accomplish new tasks, and gardens give you endless opportunities to learn new skills.
- Gardening can help you eat better. No need to buy fresh fruit and vegetables when you have easy access to them in your yard. Children may be more willing to try new foods when they were a part of growing them too.
- Gardening helps you sleep better. Being active for several hours can wear you out. You also have the benefit of clearing your mind and becoming less stressed which in turn should help you fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper throughout the night.
If you are considering getting into gardening, whether it is a huge outdoor garden, pots on your patio, or herbs in your window box, understanding the health benefits is a great way to feel good about what you are doing and how you are spending your time. I hope you enjoy this amazing hobby and see the beauty and magic in it as I do!
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. – Alfred Austin