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Gardening … it does a body good!

Gardening is good for the body. It’s good for the soul. And it can even support healthy eating, while cutting your grocery bill. 

There’s something about working in the dirt and reconnecting with nature that reduces stress, tension, and anxiety. The American Institute of Stress indicates that in just 45 minutes of gardening, you can significantly reduce your levels of cortisol, helping you get better control on sugar levels, regulate metabolism, reduce inflammation and assist with memory formulation in addition to support better sleep. Gardening also provides for personal creativity and mindfulness. Imagine seeing a once overgrown garden rejuvenated at the touch of your hands, now bursting with color from new annuals and perennial blooms. It’s a chance to stop and smell the flowers, literally!

Another benefit of gardening is the full-body workout it provides. Gardeners know that getting down on your hands and knees to dig in the soil ensures that every muscle in their body is flexed and gets the heart pumping. In addition to strengthening bones and muscles, you burn calories while gardening too!

In addition, spending time outdoors in the garden helps us naturally obtain our daily dose of Vitamin D through the warming rays of the sun. Vitamin D supports calcium growth, bolsters the immune system, encourages healthy hearts and lungs, and may reduce cancer risks.

An apple a day can help keep the doctor away, but the bounty of growing your own food can fill your plate with a rainbow of colorful, vitamin-packed foods. There is nothing fresher mid-summer than picking a handful of tomatoes and pairing it with some freshly chopped basil, adding just-picked green beans or peas to your dinner plate, or adding some fresh mint to your ice tea. You’ll not only save money, but benefit from eating a diet rich in the freshest ingredients.

Community Gardeners

Out in the Moravian Manor Communities community garden, residents embrace their green thumbs and all the health benefits that from spending time gardening. Resident gardener Elaine Fulmer shares her experiences:

“As a newbie, I was very excited when I was able to get one of the garden plots! I thought there would be a waiting list. I got to meet some very nice fellow gardeners on the first day!  So far, I have harvested a green pepper and several radishes! I’m going to have some cucumbers, zucchini, and tomatoes soon! And hopefully some delicate squash in a few weeks. I LOVE gardening! It’s great exercise and provides a sense of serenity. I love to nurture things – watching things grow and develop is amazing. I love to cook and using fresh veggies and herbs that I’ve grown myself makes it more fun. The exciting discovery was that there is a composter next to the garden plots so I’m hoping to resurrect that! I’ve been saving all my compostable at home and bringing them when I come to water my plot. I also got permission to plant a flower and herb garden near our patio. I designed it with native plants and hope to attract lots of pollinators. Since it’s near a walkway, I’ve been able to make a lot of acquaintances while I’m out there working. It definitely helped me to maintain my sanity through the last three stay-at-home months. The gardens are my happy place!”

Gardening Tips from the Experts

Stauffers of Kissel Hill, one of our local gardening stores, is a great gardening resource. At the Lititz Stauffers store, Jay in the garden department is a great resource too. “When it comes to companion planting, an old wives’ tale is to plant marigolds among your vegetables to deter insects, such as Aphids.  Marigolds have a potent scent that supposedly deters certain insects and rabbits…however, I’m not a firm believer,” he advised us. “Planting chives and the onion family also repel certain insects, as well as Citronella Geranium, a nice lavender blooming Geranium, that can be planted in a vegetable garden to repel insects, such as mosquitos, which will help keep them away while you’re working in your garden.”  

Jay also suggested a method to maximize your output in small garden spaces. “Square footage gardeners love what’s called Double Cropping.  It allows you to plant your early crops like radishes, broccoli, and cauliflower and when they are ready in June, you can harvest them and then plant your ‘warm season’ plants such as green beans or street corn, in their place.”

In addition to Jay’s professional tips, Stauffers maintains a great video library from container gardening tips, starting seeds, summertime watering to edible gardening as well articles on growing your own food

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