As I write this, much of the world is coming out of imposed lockdowns…kind of peeking out of the shadows to see if, indeed, the big, bad wolf is gone. (The jury is still out…)
Many of us are reflecting on the past 18 months and analyzing how we fared: physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. I think most of us can say we engaged in some self-sabotaging behaviors, but I bet many of us also adopted habits that we’re happy about and that we’ve chosen to keep.
Gardening is one of them for lots of people!
Some people turned to gardening as a pastime to engage their newly freed-up time while others saw it as a necessary activity as choices at the grocery store diminished. Some parents used gardening to occupy children or to add to an increasingly home-based learning curriculum.
For many of us, gardening was a way to not go crazy…that connection with growth and life is so healing and soothing, yet so invigorating!
Research shows the benefits of home gardening include relieving stress, increasing physical activity and improving emotional well-being. A recent study from Princeton University found that out of 15 daily leisure activities, gardening is one of the most beneficial activities for mental and emotional health.
There has been intensive study on the design of prisons, hospitals and senior housing that shows the benefits of visual connection to plants has been proven to improve socialization, accelerate healing and improve cognitive ability. In one study, two groups of patients where isolated following the same surgery, the group with visual access to nature recovered up to a day faster than those without. They also used fewer strong painkillers, gave fewer negative evaluations of the hospital staff and had fewer postoperative complications. Wow! That’s HUGE!
Every seed company that I’ve read about had banner years in 2020 AND the trend is continuing. Some more adventurous gardeners are even learning about the process of seed-saving: harvesting the seeds from plants; to safe-guard against the seed-shortages we saw during the height of the pandemic.
Social media groups that focus on gardening are buzzing with activity as people with no previous gardening experience look for help with everything from planting to managing pests and plant disease. People are happy to share their knowledge and it’s been such a great distraction from everything else happening in the world.
Not surprisingly, vegetable gardening becomes most popular in times of local or global distress. I must confess, I’m not all that interested in other types of gardening, but I AM obsessed with growing food.
The cultivation of food is what allowed civilization to become truly developed. Before man (really woman) started growing their own food, the constant hunt just to stay alive didn’t allow time for the development of language skills or the arts and math really had to be developed to help farmers keep track of their food crops! Once we began growing our food, instead of chasing it, specialization of labor became possible, and all sorts of new endeavors were the result.
At the time of the Pilgrims, almost everyone was a gardener but as food production became more commercialized, fewer and fewer folks kept vegetable gardens.
World War II changed all that. People were encouraged to plant “Victory Gardens” both here in North America as well as Europe. Vegetable gardens were seen as a way that the common person could contribute to the war effort by relieving the stress of food production and allowing for production of weapons. Additionally, food rationing, especially in Europe, was quite severe and a vegetable garden allowed for a lot more variety for the average family.
After the war, however, all the excess nitrogen that had been being produced for making bombs needed to find a new market and clever advertisers touted the “fertilizing benefits” for making things grow…and thus chemical gardening became prominent…
Which led to the next big movement: that of organic gardening. My mom was a pioneer and I loved all the amazing fruits and vegetables that came from her garden…didn’t love the weeding so much but dearly loved the harvesting and eating!
This movement has continued with lots of enthusiasm developed when Michelle Obama planted a “Victory Garden” at the White House. Her victory garden represented a victory over the industrialization of growing food; a movement toward more organic ways of gardening and lots of us have joined that movement!
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