Gardening for Improved Mental Health

Many people enjoy gardening for the beauty it brings to their landscape, and the edibles it puts on their kitchen table, the benefits run much deeper. Gardening offers both physical and mental benefits (supported by research studies)  — to the point physicians, and physical therapists recommend it to patients young and old.

During the current time of uncertainty, more and more people are turning to gardening, whether indoors or out, as a way to stay busy and improve their mental health. Tending to plants helps relieve stress and lift depression. It’s also a way to open communication with friends, family, and neighbors who enjoy gardening.

Have you thought about trying your hand at growing something during the lockdown? Unsure of where to start? Then let me help! I’ll admit that even though my house and yard are FULL of plants, I’ve added a handful of new beauties to my collection in the last month.

Types of gardening for beginners

If you’re starting, there are numerous different ways you can begin your adventure. This opens up a range of options that accommodates the time and amount of space you want to commit. 

Houseplants: If you’re short on space or want to start with very little time and money invested, houseplants are a great option. There are plenty of easy to care for plants that will grow indoors; make sure you find one (or more) that is fit for the sun exposure you have inside your house.

Indoor container gardens: Growing in containers indoors is another great option if you’re short on space and can only grow inside. You aren’t limited to houseplants that, you can expand your container garden to include veggies, fruits, and herbs.

Herb gardens: Indoors or outside, herb gardens are good for people that love to cook. Having fresh herbs on hand is always awesome, especially right now, when you can’t make a quick trip to the market any time you need something.

Raised beds: Gardening in raised beds has gained immense popularity in the last couple of decades. It puts less stress on the body versus kneeling or bending over and isn’t a permanent option like ripping up a chunk of your turf for a garden.

Supplies

What you need to get started can be grouped into two different categories: what you need and what is nice to have but isn’t necessarily a requirement.

Need

  • Containers: Choose containers that match the plants you’ll be growing. Plants with short root systems grow best in shallow, wide containers; plants with deep roots or ones that grow top-heavy do best in deep containers.
  • Materials for raised beds: Your choice of materials depends on the look you want. You can construct the sides of raised beds using lumber or cement blocks.
  • Potting soil: Good quality potting soil is preferred over topsoil because it is specially made to be light and airy, keeping the weight of the containers down. It provides nutrients to the plants’ roots and retains moisture for plant use.
  • Spade: To dig holes for larger plants, a small spade makes quick work of the task at hand.
  • Seeds or plants: Which you opt to buy depends on the plant itself. Some fare better when purchased as young plants, and others when started from seed. Buying plants is more expensive but less work overall.

Optional

  • Watering can: Whether you purchase one or re-purpose an empty milk carton, a watering can makes watering more manageable, especially indoors.
  • Smart irrigation controller: If you’re growing raised beds, a smart irrigation controller can run an automated watering system, taking the guesswork out of watering your plants and saving you time.
  • Gloves: For a few bucks, gardening gloves help to keep your hands clean when working and protect your skin from irritation or scratches.

Where to buy supplies

This is one aspect of gardening right now that can get a little tricky and may require you to get creative. Stay at home orders, or lockdown conditions make it difficult to go out and buy supplies. 

Online retailers are a great source for gardening supplies, allowing you to order everything online and have it delivered to your doorstep.

Local brick and mortar shops may have delivery or curbside pickup if they are still open. 

Friends/neighbors/family can share starts or divisions from plants they have to get you started with little to no cost.

Getting started

  1. Plan out your space. For some people, this means drawing a diagram and laying out a written plan. Putting it on paper helps you determine how many plants you’ll need, and all of the materials for constructing raised beds (if you go that route).
  1. Figure planting dates for anything growing in outside beds. Take into account soil temperatures and the dates for the last potential frost of the season.
  1. Get started! Run with your ideas and have fun. Watch your plants take off and grow before your eyes.

Taking care of plants

  • Keep plants in a spot that provides the right amount of sunlight. Sunlight drives photosynthesis, the process that makes food for the plant, but plants have specific requirements ranging from full sun to shade.
  • Water plants according to their needs. Some plants like their soil to dry out slightly before being watered again, others like to be kept moist at all times without being waterlogged.
  • Fertilize plants periodically to provide them with nutrients essential for plant growth. Make sure to fertilize according to label directions on the fertilizer you choose.
  • Watch for pests/diseases. Keep a close eye on your plants to catch insect pests or diseases early, so that you can minimize damage.


You don’t have Wise Orchard yet? Get it now! It’s easy to install like a hose timer, it connects directly to your Wi-Fi and you can control it from your smartphone.

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