Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Garden Enjoyment

For me, there’s something very enjoyable about being in my garden.  No matter how stressful my life is, puttering around in the garden seems to bring calm.  When growing season rolls around, I will make time for my garden every single day without fail.  It just feels like something I need.  And maybe I do.

I hope spring comes early this year.

After a very cold winter I am ready to get started in my spring garden.  It will still be couple of months before I can plant warm weather vegetables, but that doesn’t mean I’m not busy right now.

This is the time of year that I look through seed catalogs, brush up on planting dates, make decisions about what I’m going to plant, and plan the garden layout.

In mid December I planted garlic and onion – just before the cold snap.  I covered them with straw which helped them survive – just barely.

Yesterday I bought 100 lbs of seed potatoes.  I will begin planting them at the end of January, in succession over several weeks to control the harvest – I don’t want everything coming in at once.

I’m excited about planting peppers too.  This year I will plant Cubanelle peppers in volume.  They are a hot pepper, but very mild.  They are at the bottom of the Scoville Scale – just above bell pepper.  To give you an idea, their rating is 100-900 units, whereas a Jalapeno pepper is about eight thousand- to-10,000 units.


STRESS RELIEF.  Gardening relaxes me.  I can feel the stress simply melt away when I’m busy in the garden. Having a positive outlet for stress is good for my health.

I EAT WHAT I GROW.  Whatever is in season makes up the bulk of my diet at the time. 

This is the time of year I eat a lot of greens.  Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food.  They are rich in minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium) and vitamins, (K, C, E, and B).  Greens are packed with fiber and low in carbohydrates, which explains why they have little impact on blood sugar levels.

I do the same in spring, summer, and fall.  Whatever is in season is what I’m eating.

Here’s the point:  Consumption of home grown vegetables and less processed foods means more nutrients, antioxidants, and less toxins going into my system.  Win-win.

EXERCISE.  Lifting plants, raking, digging, and hauling… it all requires full-body activity that is labor-intensive.  Sometimes it’s even strenuous.  Either way, it engages me in productive, healthy work.  Breaking a sweat in the outdoors strikes me as being a more sensible way to get exercise than driving to the gym and mounting a machine for a workout… and having to pay membership fees to do it.  Another win-win.

HOME-GROWN TASTES BETTER.  It really does.  I’ve always heard people say this, but never really believed it.  My attitude was, “so what?”  Now I know. 

Vegetables and fruit found in the grocery store are grown for a “long shelf life”, which means they are GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), are saturated with chemicals, and have thick tough skins.  Furthermore, the longer a vegetable or fruit sits on the shelf the more the internal sugars and starches change – making it taste even worse.    Then you have to pour on sugar, salt, and all sorts of other flavor enhancements just to get it down. 

Home-grown, on the other hand, is usually eaten fresh and is bursting with flavor.  Backyard blueberries don’t need whipped cream and added sugar to excite my taste buds.  The sweetness of the natural fruit itself explodes on the palate.  Even backyard broccoli tastes sweet.

SHARING.  I like sharing what I grow with family and friends.  Feels good.

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