Welcome to Tuesday Terrific, where we celebrate getting over the Monday bump and picking up speed for the rest of the week.

Today, on the Vernal Equinox (the first day of spring, meteorologically speaking, when there are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night), let’s celebrate growing things. Specifically, growing plants – mustaches, beer guts, and cellulite do not count. Oh, and legend has it, you can stand a raw egg on its end at the Vernal Equinox.  Be sure to let me know how that works out.  I’ve never tried it myself.

But anyway, back to:

 

Things to love and learn about Gardening

Gardening has been shown to provide many health benefits: lowering blood pressure, boosting mood, and even preventing Alzheimer’s disease.  It’s now common for “garden” therapy to be used in nursing homes and rehab centers.

How does gardening provide these benefits?  Let’s take a look at what we’re doing when we garden:

 

 

 

  • We get regular exercise – good for the heart, bones, and mood.  Exercise releases endorphins, the “feel good” brain chemical.
  • We are exposed to sunlight:  our bodies then make Vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium needed for bone health.  Sunlight is also a natural mood-booster.
  • We are surrounded by aesthetically pleasing sights, sounds, and smells (except for the manure part) in nature , improving our mood, our inner tranquility, and our sense of being part of something larger.
  • We’re breathing in fresh air, and getting away from the indoor environment, with its chemicals from furniture, carpeting, cleaners, etc.
  • We get a mental workout from the ongoing need to observe changes to our garden, tending to plants’ differing needs, planning the ideal positions of garden beds, and problem-solving (Me: stink bugs).  Check out this article for more information on the study done.
  • And here’s a benefit that may surprise you:  dirt is good for you.  I kid you not; it surprised me, too!  This doesn’t mean you should go out and start eating dirt, of course, but studies have been done which demonstrate that a certain bacteria found in the soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, boosts mood and improves cognition.  The benefits were first discovered by oncologists in the UK, who were looking into the bacteria as a possible cancer treatment.  Check out this article for details about the experiments done on mice.  It’s super cool.  Just the contact of working the soil with your hands and being within breathing range, they say, is enough to get this benefit.

 

 

And speaking of cognitive function, I’ve been considering lately (as I tend my own seedlings and emerging plants) the life lessons we can take away regarding plants and their needs.  Apologies if it sounds a bit sappy, LOL.

What we can learn from plants:

1. Pay attention to and honor differences. Seeds have a wide range of needs and timetables:  basil, for instance, should be planted with only 1/4″ of dirt covering it, while moonflower seeds need 1/2 – 1″ of soil on top.  Some  require soil rich in organic matter, while others are better suited to nutrient-poor soil.  Some seeds germinate within days, while others take a couple of weeks before peeking out.

People, likewise, thrive in different settings, need different “nutrients” for the mind and spirit, and “bloom” at different times.  Comparing oneself to others, then, is a pointless exercise.  You may not succeed as quickly at your goal as others at the old alma mater, but your reach might stretch farther when you get there.

 

 

 

 

2. Recognize when it’s time to make a change. Container gardeners are familiar with the need to re-pot.  Given enough time, all container plants will become root-bound.  That’s when the roots run out of room and start wrapping themselves around and around the bottom of the pot, and come out of the drainage hole.  The plant will die unless it’s put in a new pot, where it has more space to grow.

We are always growing, too, no matter what “grown up” age we reach.  Our circumstances and needs change with time.  Sometimes the old pot just doesn’t fit anymore, and we need a new one.

 

 

3. Use support when needed. Climbing plants in particular – morning glories and beans, for example – need trellises for support.  When they have it, there’s very little limit (save for the span of the growing season) to how high they can reach.  When the plants are strong and have filled out, you can barely even see the supports they have been climbing on.

 

 

 

 

Using our supports – family, friends, education, and so on – enables us to become the wondrous souls we truly can be.  It doesn’t take away from anything we’ve accomplished.

There are many more parallels, of course, but sometimes less is more!

What do you think?  Have you ever thought of the aspects of your hobbies as metaphoric of our lives on this planet, or your pursuit of a goal?  Ever try to stand a raw egg on its end on the day of the Vernal Equinox?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Kathy

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