Pine County Master Gardener Tara Johnson

Pine County Master Gardener Tara Johnson recommends planting native plants, both flowering and non-flowering, in order to keep bees happy and in good health.

Ask any gardener why they do it, and you will get a wide array of answers. Without a doubt, many of these answers are going to let you in on the many benefits of gardening. When most people think of gardening they think of benefits like curbside appeal, having fruits and vegetables that are more delicious than you can buy in a supermarket, having the ability to preserve food, or just eat it really, really fresh. But did you know that gardening is also healthy for you?

Gardening gives excellent mental and physical health benefits. I have had some very large gardens. I’ve grown fruits, vegetables and flowers. It is a lot of work to keep a garden up. I have spent hours each week tending to my gardens. Whenever anyone asks me why I garden, I tell them it is my soul food. The garden is my therapist. I’ve seen this also to be true for my children. When they garden with me, it is relaxing for all of us. They open up and we have the most amazing conversations. Research is showing that my family is not the only one that benefits from the stress relief that gardening offers.

 A Michigan State University Extension piece cites a study in the Journal of Health Psychology, showing that participants who gardened had a more significant decrease in stress than those who read. In addition to that, the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, which is found in the soil, has been linked to having a positive impact on mental health. Studies show that it increases serotonin in the prefrontal cortex, decreasing anxiety. This particular bacteria also helps to boost our immune system.

Some other interesting findings:

• Increasing your “green space” by just 10% can decrease health complaints that can make you feel five years younger.

• The CDC considers gardening a moderate-intensity level activity. This means 2.5 hours of gardening per week reduces the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, depression and colon cancer. Gardeners are also more likely to exercise 40-50 minutes longer than someone who walks or bikes.

•  Vitamin D consumption increases which improves bone health, immune health, and mental health.

• Gardening is a full body workout. Exercising both the arms and legs is recommended in order to prevent coronary disease.

Gardening is not just good for the cosmetics of your property, it is scientifically good for your health.  Spring is here, get outside and garden! You will be feeling calmer, healthier and younger in no time.

Put the date of the Pine County Master Gardener plant sale on your calendar. It will be on Wednesday, May 22 starting at 6:30 a.m. at the Pine County Fairgrounds Flea Market in Pine City.

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