Gardening for health
 Why should I be aware of this?
Gardening can help bring about a sense of peace and serenity. When you are out there, working in the garden, there is a feeling of connection with the earth and all life. According to a Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson, who invented the term biophilia or love of living things, the source of good health lies in being connected to nature and being restored by it. Nature is beneficial because it helps us reach a state similar to meditation. There are other benefits to being in nature as well, including exercise, exposure to vitamin D from sunshine, and the capacity of light to counter seasonal depression.
Even if someone does not have an actual outdoors garden space, they can still enjoy gardening by growing plants in pots and having them on porches, roofs and even inside rooms. Taking care of plants satisfies the natural human instinct to nurture and provide care.
Gardening can be an individual effort or a group activity.
 All about gardening for health
Research is showing that gardening is an ideal form of exercise. It involves stretching, bending, repetition and movement and is not as stressful on the ligaments and joints as other aerobic activities. Along with its physical exertion positives, it also has many other merits. Many experts believe that gardening helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves human immunity, and helps people with arthritis among other things. It is also known to help reduce aggressive tendencies in people. Studies have shown that simply by looking at trees outside, patients recovered from surgeries faster and with much less pain.
 Organic vegetable garden
Having an organic vegetable garden can also help inculcate good food habits. Growing edible flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits not only provide the benefit of gardening but also teach about the merits of consuming fresh food. Some tips for organic gardening are-
- Make a list of all the herbs and vegetables that you want to grow, keeping in mind the space available.
- Most herbs can grow in pots and placed outside the kitchen
- Use larger pots for fruit trees, if there is no space in the garden
- Organic compost can be prepared from kitchen wastes.
 Sensory gardens
Among the many choices available to people, is the building of sensory gardens which enhance all the five senses. It encourages a play of sight, sense, touch, textures etc. For people suffering from visual disability and even dementia, a sensory garden can result in a general well being. But one must remember not to plant too many fragrant plants together which can overwhelm each other with conflicting odors. Some tips are –
- Having plants with different colours and working with contrasts
- Having long grasses, a trickling waterfall or quiet pond,
- Having birdbaths that encourages birds to come and nest or even nectar producing plants
- Having soft lichens that make you want to touch them,
- Growing jasmine creepers and other such plants to have a lovely smell.
- Even using wood shavings can give a pleasant smell to one’s garden.
 For people with disabilities
Gardening can be especially therapeutic for people with disabilities. With the right planning and correct execution, one can have a productive and effective garden. If one does gardening in a group, it can help improve social and communication skills, especially among children and young adults. The healing effect of working with the soil has even been documented by physiotherapists and psychotherapists. It helps in confidence building, improves motor skills and reduces stress levels.
Some of the steps that can be taken to help people with challenged abilities, create their own garden are-
- To keep the garden at the right levels
- To use tools and implements that are specially designed
- To provide retractable hanging baskets
- To keep the pathways non –slippery and accessible
- To have a handy water supply and hose.
 For people with Arthritis
For obvious reasons, gardening is a great exercise for people having arthritis. It is useful for joint flexibility, to provide a range of motions and helping people have an active and less painful life. A few tips –
- Be sure to check with your doctor before attempting anything strenuous.
- Wear protective clothing such as gloves to protect hands from cold and to ease the joints.
- Keep the movement often and do not be in one position for too long.
- Doctors advice to use stronger muscles and joints like palms instead of fingers
- One should avoid pinching, squeezing and twisting motions.
- A good posture should be maintained
 Gardening for children
If certain basic precautions are taken and safety rules are in place, gardening could be a amazing hobby and experience for children. By keeping it simple and creating a fun atmosphere, children can learn a number of things.
- They learn about responsibility by caring for and nurturing the pants
- They get self confidence by watching their hard work pay off and seeing a plant grow
- They learn to respect nature and all its goodness
- They get a lot of exercise, sunshine and stay healthy
- They even get inspiration to become creative as they start to play with the different attributes of the plants and how to plant them and group them
- They learn about nutrition
 What Can I do?
 Eco friendly tips
- Use organic compost instead of fertilizers.
- Use mulch instead of water
- Mulch also is an ideal place for ground beetles to thrive which attacks other pests.
- Design a water harvesting tank and grow plants around it.
- Keep the garden to a manageable size.
- Make provisions for birds in your garden. They will eat the pests.
- Use shredded untreated wood and leaf wastes converted into chips as mulch on garden beds. This helps prevent weed growth, retains moisture, regulates soil temperature, and adds nutrients back to the soil
 Safety tips
- Be careful when buying the gardening tools.
- Keep any dangerous items out of children or pets reach
- Be careful of plant allergies especially from agweeds, pigweeds, and all grasses. Some of the molds and fungi can also cause allergies.
- Have a strong fencing and drainage system to your garden
- Make sure there is enough shade areas and make all arrangement to protect oneself from the sun when working.
- Wear protective clothing such as gloves and the right footwear whenever possible.
- If one shows any symptoms of allergy to plants such as sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy watery eyes, visits a medical expert.
- If one does insist on using chemical pesticides, read all directions and store carefully.
- Be careful of insect and bug bites and know of what to do for Emergency First Aid.
- Be careful about lifting very heavy objects.
- Maintain good posture while gardening. Kneel on a cushion, if possible, keep your spine straight and keep changing your position every so often.
 Do it yourself tips
- Aim to grow plants having interesting textures such as Lamb's ear, sounds such as the seed pods of Siberian Iris.
- Use the petals from certain flowers in salads, for example nasturtiums and violets.
- Make sure some of the must have plants include herbs such as mint, coriander, thyme, rosemary and basil
- Visit a nearby nursery and look for interesting plants to bring home
- Speak to the neighborhood gardeners for easy tips
- Plant marigolds to ward off beetles.
- Gardening improves our own health, through active living and the health of the planet
- Gardening is active living
- Gardening is the second most popular form of exercise in Canada, attracting 48% of Canadian adults. It is second only to walking.
- There's a whole field of practice called horticultural therapy, which explores the way that gardening helps people heal, physically and emotionally.
- Better Health Channel
- Burning Calories
 Additional Information:
- For more tips visit : Gardening and Outdoor