‘Plant smiles, grow laughter, and harvest love.’ If, like us, you’re from the Great White North (Canada), or call a Northern State home, rejoice! Spring is here! If your winter was more sun & sand, than ice & snow, rejoice! You can also enjoy this article with your perpetual suntan (we’re jealous).

It’s time to lose your winter mitts for your gardening gloves. Planting season has finally arrived. Gardening is an incredible activity for your mind, body, and home-made salads.

Benefits of Gardening for Older Adults:

  1. Gardening can help reduce stress and improve mood.  Researchers Agnes E. Va Den Berg and Mariëtte H.G. Custers, from the Netherlands, exposed two groups to a stressful activity. One group then gardened for 30 minutes, while the other group read. The gardening group showed significantly lower cortisol levels (stress hormone) and a restored positive mood compared to the reading group.
  2. Gardening is an excellent form of physical activity, improving strengthflexibilityendurance and motor skills.
  3. In case you didn’t already know, a lot of people love gardening! Gardening can be fun social activity‚ and a way to connect with neighbours. Many communities have garden tours where you can meet local garden enthusiasts.
  4. Having something to take care of gives us a sense of choice and responsibility. A classic study by Langer and Rodin gave a group of nursing home participants a plant to take care. Over the course of 18 months, the study found that residents who had been given plants to take care of experienced improved health compared to other residents.
  5. If you’re growing your own vegetables, fruits, and/or herbs, not only are you saving money on grocery bills, your homegrown ingredients are fresher, taste better, and often contain less pesticides than store bought.
  6. According to WebMD 40-75% of us are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important for strong bones, but sometimes it’s hard to get enough sun (we’re from Canada, so we understand), and vitamin D levels in food are often too low. And so we have another benefit of gardening! The most natural way to produce vitamin D is by exposing your skin to the sun. Be careful not to burn or become dehydrated. It doesn’t take a lot of sun for the body to start making vitamin D, and gardening can be a great excuse (not that you need one) to get some rays.

Safety tips for Gardening:

Gardening is a fun and fulfilling activity‚ but not if you get hurt. Don’t spend the next day in your bed from over-exerting yourself. Those tomatoes and daffodils won’t water themselves! Follow these tips to stay safe in the garden:

  1. Keep your garden to a manageable size. Gardening should be a fun hobby‚ not an exhausting chore. Create narrow beds so you don’t have to over reach. Raised garden beds are a great option if bending over too much is hard on your back. There are a wide range of raised bed kits available at stores like your local hardware & gardening centre.
  2. Container gardening is also a great option, especially if you have limited space. Buy light weight containers with grab handles so that they are easy to move around. Remember: you will need to water your plants more often if you are using containers!
  3. Vine plants and vegetables on a trellis (mmm… tomatoes) can make gardening much easier‚ as there is less bending for pruning and harvesting.
  4. Find tools that make gardening easier. Ergonomic garden tools keep your wrist in a neutral position while you work‚ causing less stress on the wrists and hands than regular tools. You might also benefit from garden kneelers‚ and rolling garden seats.
  5. Know your limits and if you are experiencing mobility issues or don’t have space for your own garden‚ don’t fret! You could get involved with a community garden to stay active and social.
  6. Sunscreen! Stay hydrated! Wear a hat! I know we said sun exposure can give you some much needed Vitamin D, but remember you can also get too much sun.

There you have it! The benefits of gardening and some added safety tips. If you love your garden, and/or have some gardening tips, please share! If you have pictures, even better! Show off you gardening knowhow and your perfectly pruned plants.

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