Have you ever had the disappointment of your seeds not germinating? I know that I have, and it is a real source of discouragement. Or what about those seeds that take forever just to sprout? I consider myself a patient person, but some seeds have really pushed me to my limit with their sluggish sprouting rate. Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to improve the germination rate and speed of seeds.
In 2015, the FDA increased the warnings associated with the use of over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Taking these painkillers comes with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Many are now questioning the use of painkillers for any reason.
The vacant lot that we would ultimately turn into a vibrant community garden was overgrown with grass — grass that was taller than we were. We had to use machetes to cut it down, then we let the grass fertilize the ground and we began an extensive cleanup and leveling process.
But many hands make light work, and that garden is now a key source of vegetables and herbs for people in the nearby area. The benefits it brings, however, go well beyond the vegetables themselves. Children from the local school work the garden side-by-side with retirees — fostering a sense of community.
The mental and physical health benefits of community gardens are well documented. They include:
1. Developing social support and social skills
People who contribute to community gardens — be it street and urban gardens, or gardens set up for a school, prison, hospital, restaurant or other places — almost always make friends there, surveys have found. Gardens can be a great place to meet people you wouldn’t normally come across — people outside your family and workplaces — as well as a space to learn from others. In turn, people with these stronger social networks have an increased life expectancy and greater resilience to stress.
2. Sense of achievement
It’s a wonderful thing, to look after life — and plants provide an achievable way to do this. In a community garden, you’ll often find yourself taking home vegetables and herbs, or giving them to your neighbors — and being able to hold the literal fruits of your labor in your hands is rewarding and fulfilling.
3. A great use of leisure time
Sometimes work and caring duties can be so exhausting that the only leisure time we squeeze in involves a television. But, TV and Netflix aren’t great for mental health — they promote lazy thought and the consumption of unhealthy food, encourage unrealistic expectations of life, and promote a sedentary lifestyle. Urban and community gardening, on the other hand, can be really relaxing, while also getting you moving — in a chilled-out way. Respondents to a survey on community gardening said that it made them “happy…when things grow back in spring,” and, “I feel alive. I’d die if I stayed in my apartment.”
4. Decreased stress and pain
A garden is a great and convenient getaway from the stress of everyday life, and studies have found that gardens can lower pain levels and speed up the healing process, decrease stress and release tension. Community gardens can be especially beneficial to people in highly urbanized areas who don’t have a garden of their own or access to plants on a daily basis. In fact, researchers have found that gardening is more efficient at reducing stress than reading indoors or indoor exercise.
5. Better diet and lifestyle
People working in community gardens often feel inspired to eat better and are more motivated to exercise. Learning how vegetables grow and everything that goes into that process helps people to appreciate their food in a different way.
6. A greater sense of security
By getting to know one’s neighbors, people start to trust them and their alienation made all one’s neighbors’ strangers starts to break down. This leads to an increased feeling of safety and security.
Research shows that nature evokes positive emotions, as well as facilitates cognitive functioning, and promoting recovery from mental exhaustion. People spending time in nature also have better concentration and attention levels.
8. Enhanced self-esteem
In-depth studies consistently find that gardening is great for self-esteem — and just one session can be beneficial. The main reason is that a reduction in anger, confusion, tension, and depression is conducive to improving a person’s sense of self-worth.
Community gardening tips
Not everyone has a vacant block of land waiting around to be rescued. But there are lots of alternatives; a park in disrepair, the unused but accessible roof of a block of flats, the back porch of the local pub, a corner of a local primary school and even your own small patio or window sills can be used for seedlings or a shared worm composter.
If you don’t have access to green space and have to grow food on a rooftop, paved area, or patio, the following foods do really well in pots: oregano, tomatoes, basil, potatoes, beets, turnips, radish, rosemary, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, carrots, chilis, strawberries, cantaloupe, eggplant, peppermint, peppers, peas, onions, beans, kale, chard and medicinal plants like aloe vera work well as well.
For some non-edible plants that will lift your mood — lavender smells wonderful and has been shown to lower stress on its own. Roses promote relaxation (and if they are organic, are edible as well) and the bright colors of sunflowers make most people feel happy.
Use a worm composter to reduce waste and generate fertilizer — I made mine out of two bucket-like plastic containers in about ten minutes — and throw your coffee grounds and eggshells straight into the pots.
-The Backyard Vitality Team
For as long as humans have been able to warm water, they have enjoyed herbal teas. Herbal teas are not really true teas like green, black, and oolong tea, which are all brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Herbal teas can be made from any part of a plant, including the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, berries, or bark, and they can sometimes contain thousands of different compounds, each with distinctive healing capabilities.
Traditional gardens are planted in long rows in the soil and generally require quite a bit of space and tending to be successful. You have to clear a space, amend your soil and be diligent in keeping weeds away. In short, conventional gardening can be kind of backbreaking, and this is why many people never create a home garden of their own.
Cinnamon has a long history and is one of the oldest spices known to humanity. It received honorable mentions in the Bible and was used in ancient Egypt to flavor beverages, as medicine, and as an embalming agent. Some ancient Chinese botanical medicinal writings date its use as far back as 2700 BC.
Do you have an apple tree in your yard? Perhaps you have access to loads of apples in the fall from your local farmers’ market or nearby orchards. Making applesauce is a great idea, but you can also take it a step further to get the most out of your apples.
This Great, Great Grandmother Beat the Spanish Flu and Now COVID: Was It Her Drunken Raisins? (she says yes)
On January 25th, 2021, Lucia DeClerck, the oldest resident in a nursing home in New Jersey, was looking forward to celebrating her 105th birthday. Instead, she contracted COVID-19. Not exactly the gift for which she hoped.
Depending on where you live and what plants you are growing, it is getting close to seed starting time. I love this time of year, when I can start plants indoors to transplant them lovingly into my spring garden. Seed starting time means that garden planting time is just around the corner. No matter when seed starting time is for you, the tips below will help you avoid some common mistakes so that you can give your plants the best start possible.
While TV advertisements and mainstream gardening advice would have you believe that all sorts of chemicals are required to manage issues in your garden, we think otherwise. A holistic approach often works best – preventing any toxic side effects and also saving you money. Here is how you can enjoy the superpower of cinnamon in your garden.