Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Have you ever had a difficult time canceling an online account or subscription service? Maybe the ‘unsubscribe’ or ‘cancel’ button was hard to find, or you had to answer several questions first before being able to finally cancel?

Computer screen

These practices are known as “dark patterns” and they are becoming increasingly common on a variety of websites. Dark patterns are deceptive strategies used by businesses to manipulate the decisions made by their online customers. This may result in consumers spending more money than they had anticipated, signing up for services they do not want, or spending more time and attention on a website than they intended. Several groups are advocating for the removal of dark patterns since they can make navigating the internet more difficult for individuals who speak English as a second language as well as individuals who have less experience using online commerce. Unfortunately, dark patterns sit on the edge of legality, making it difficult for lawmakers to pass legislation against these practices.

Several different types of dark patterns have been identified since 2010, such as:

  • Friend Spam – A website will ask you for permission to access your contact list (usually under good pretenses) but will then send messages to your friends claiming to be from you.
  • Trick Questions – Questions that trick you into giving an answer you did not mean to give, or a question that is worded in a confusing way.
  • Disguised Ads – Advertisements that look like a part of the website content or navigation, in order to get you to accidentally click on them.
  • Confirm Shaming – Websites that make a user feel guilt or shame when selecting an option other than what the company desires.
  • Roach Motel – Websites that allow you to sign up for their services easily, but are then very difficult to unsubscribe from.

How can you avoid falling into these traps? The best way to avoid dark patterns is to slow down and read carefully before signing up for a subscription or purchasing a product. Federal and state governments are slowly addressing dark patterns as well – California recently added regulations to the “California Consumer Privacy Act” that prohibit companies from using some misleading means. 

Consumer Reports has also created the “Dark Patterns Tip Line,” where consumers can submit screen shots of dark patterns they have encountered on the web. Launched in 2021, the tip line now contains a multitude of real-life examples others have encountered.

What are some dark patterns you have experienced?

Sources:

Reicin, E. (2021). Understanding Dark Patterns: How to Stay Out of the Gray Areas. BBB National Programs. https://bbbprograms.org/media-center/blog-details/insights/2021/05/19/dark-patterns

Deceptive Design. Types of Deceptive Design.  https://www.deceptive.design/types

Dark Patterns Tip Line.  https://darkpatternstipline.org/

Germain, T. (2021). New Dark Patterns Tip Line Lets You Report Manipulative Online Practices. Consumer Reports. https://www.consumerreports.org/digital-rights/dark-patterns-tip-line-report-manipulative-practices-a1196931056/

Author: Jessica Lowe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, lowe.495@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

on a diet picture

Everywhere I turn I see a nutrition claim on food. Claims like fat free, low-carb, keto, paleo, and plant based. Social media is filled with those same claims and has groups using some of them as diets. Then add an additional layer of confusion as those groups are competing against each other on which one you should choose to get faster results. I’ve seen advertisements for diets that have you cut out carbohydrates, or another one that has you cut out all forms of sugar, some that tell you to only eat foods off their approved list, or juice all your fruits and vegetables, and one that tells you to only eat “clean” food. What does “clean” food even mean? Am I supposed to wash it with soap and disinfect with bleach first?!  All this information is completely overwhelming!

I could spend hours going over all the information trying to decipher if it’s research based or just someone sharing their opinion.  Instead of wasting time I don’t have, I decided to go straight to the source and work with a registered dietician and health coach. That was when I was introduced to intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is a philosophy that put me in charge to make my own food choices that are best for my body. Intuitive eating focuses on lifestyle changes and personal care because those are more important for long-term health instead of crash dieting.

A few good tips to get started are to:

  1. Observe food habits: pay attention to what and when you are eating without judging
  2. Reflect on reasons for eating: were you hungry or was there emotion behind your decision
  3. Try mindfulness: are you paying attention to your senses as you eat or is it mindless eating
  4. Listen to hunger cues: eat when truly hungry and without restricting food
  5. Avoid moralizing food: food is no longer labeled as good or bad
friends eating at a restaurant

As I started to incorporate some of the guidelines, I noticed that I was starting to feel better, I wasn’t as tired and had more energy. I learned to pay attention to my body and my hunger cues. I stopped restricting food and started enjoying things, within moderation, to meet my goals. I’m also working towards giving myself grace when things happen instead of self-sabotaging.

Intuitive eating isn’t right for everyone. If you are experiencing certain health conditions or allergies, please follow your doctor’s medical advice.

If you’d like to learn more about intuitive eating, I encourage you to read Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole, and Elyse Resch. They also have workbooks and journals to help you along on your journey.

Sources:

Jennings, K.-A. (2019, June 25). A Quick Guide to Intuitive Eating. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quick-guide-intuitive-eating

Sparks, A. (2021, August 23). What is intuitive eating? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/intuitive-eating

Sreenivas, S. (2021, March 5). What is intuitive eating? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diet/what-is-intuitive-eating

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu

Think about all the things we do when our eyes and hands work together: cooking, driving, gardening, opening a door, tying our shoes. etc. Such mundane activities actually take a lot of neurological coordination between our eyes, brain, and hands. As we age, eye-hand coordination can weaken due to cognitive decline and as a result, we can lose our independence. Fortunately, healthy eating and physical activity can prevent or delay this decline. Certain low impact physical activities can help maintain eye-hand coordination such as racquet sports (tennis, pickleball, badminton), swimming, volleyball, non-contact boxing and Tai Chi.

Other less intense but fun activities to improve or maintain eye-hand coordination include:

  • play catch with a friend
  • ping pong
  • golf
  • bounce a ball against a wall
  • cornhole (a beanbag game)
  • juggling
  • play darts (magnetic darts are a safe choice)
  • sew or knit
  • painting, drawing
  • video games
  • frisbee

All of these activities can be modified to accommodate different skill levels. For example, a ball can be blown up into a balloon and tossed between friends, or pickleball can be played instead of tennis, which has a slower, lighter ball and smaller court.

We should get about 150 minutes of physical activity every week for the health benefits. Many of the activities that promote eye hand coordination can also be counted as physical activity. Set a SMART goal for eye hand activities in order to maintain your eye hand coordination and possibly your independence as you age. With SMART goals, you’ll want to find activities that work for you, that are appropriate for your skill level, are fun, and hopeful social too. Check with your YMCA or local Recreation centers for leagues. Pickleball leagues are starting up everywhere. So…

Play Ball!…..or Badminton!…..or Darts!….

Author: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness. OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Wood County

Sources:

Harvard Health Publishing. Activities to Sharpen your Hand-Eye Coordination. Retrieved on 5/11/2022 at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/activities-to-sharpen-your-eyehand-coordination?msclkid=a207204ed14d11ec811f2a8feff8715a

US Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved on 5/11/2022 at https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines

Lobb, J. Start your Year with a Smart Goal. Retrieved on 5/11/22 at https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/01/17/start-2020-with-a-smart-goal/

I absolutely love a great road trip. There is something so precious about being in the car with family or friends with the radio blaring and the country rushing by. And yet, my good intentions for eating healthy on vacation go out the window as we stop to refill the gas tank and the candy bar displays and fast food restaurants seem to be calling out for me to eat.

There are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years taking both short and long road trips that have helped me to eat healthier on-the-go. With a little bit of preparation and intentionality, it is possible to make healthier choices than the candy bars and fast food options, just by taking a few minutes to pack a small cooler and prep items like fruits, veggies, and cheese sticks.  

MyPlate.gov reminds us to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy or fortified soy alternatives. Remember each day to make your plate colorful and choose nutrient-rich choices to make every bite count. By pulling over to the road side rest stop and having a picnic, you will also be able to stretch your legs and enjoy some fresh air.

There are many options for healthy packing. Here are a few of my family’s favorites:

  • Dairy: cheese sticks, yogurt pouches, travel-sized milk
  • Vegetables: celery sticks, carrot sticks, peppers, salsa
  • Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pineapple cups, applesauce pouches, apples
  • Protein: sliced meats, nut butter, hummus, nuts, hard boiled eggs
  • Grains: whole wheat bread or crackers, oatmeal energy bars, air-popped popcorn, rice cakes
  • Hydration: water first for thirst

TO PREPARE FOR SUCCESS

Anything worth doing takes a little more time. This is true for healthier eating on a road trip. Usually the week before a trip is busy, busy, busy and you want to not add one more thing to your schedule.  However, everyone will have a better trip if there is a healthy snack or meal option on the road.

  • Schedule time on your calendar for buying and prepping healthy food options. Don’t forget to purchase take-along storage containers or baggies if you do not have any.
  • Look ahead to the route you will be taking and plan stops where you will be able to stretch your legs and refuel your body (and not just your vehicle). 
  • Clean the kitchen before you head to the grocery so that when you come home you can prep the food right away.  
  • Plan your trip menu using a printable template like the one below, or design one of your own. This will also help you stay within your food budget for the trip.  
  • Give everyone in the family money that they can use for “sometimes foods” when you stop to refuel.  When my kiddos were younger, giving them each $5-10 to use on the whole trip for snacks usually sent them to the cooler instead of purchasing sodas or candy bars.

Just like anything we do, being proactive and planning ahead will help your road trip be more successful and you will arrive at your destination without the bloating and sugar overload that changes in diet can cause.  Best of luck and safe travels!

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County

Reviewed By: Jenny Lobb, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County

RESOURCES:

U.S. Department of Agriculture. What is MyPlate? https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2021). Healthy snacks: Quick tips for parents. My Healthfinder. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-snacks-quick-tips-parents

asparagus, spinach and strawberries arranged on a plate

It’s spring! The weather is starting to warm up, and outdoor farmer’s markets are preparing to open. Whether you shop at the grocery store or from a local market, spring provides many great options for produce. During the spring season, strawberries, radishes, asparagus, and spinach are just a few produce items that start to make an appearance. Knowing what is in season has benefits: not only does fresh, locally grown produce taste good, purchasing seasonal items is a great way to save money.

Springtime is often seen as a time of renewal. What a great opportunity to try a new recipe that features spring produce! Many dishes that feature spring produce are light, bright, and vibrant, such as the spinach strawberry salad displayed in the video below.

If you’re not a salad fan and would prefer alternate ideas for using spinach and strawberries in your spring cooking, check out these suggestions to Make a Fresh Start with Spring Foods.  

Radishes are another colorful, nutrient-packed spring vegetable worth bringing into your kitchen this spring. Before you knock them, give them a try! Although grocery store radishes are often red and bitter, fresh spring radishes come in a variety of colors and flavors. They can be eaten raw or used as a garnish, and they can also be pickled, roasted, grilled or braised, to name just a few options.

Spring provides many great options for produce. Do you have a favorite spring produce item or recipe? If so, leave a comment to let us know!

Written by Skye Pietrzykowski, Dietetic Student, Middle Tennessee State University and Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Kiefer, G. (2022). Respect for the Radish. Edible Columbus. https://ediblecolumbus.ediblecommunities.com/eat/respect-radish

Klemm, S. (2022). Make a Fresh Start with Spring Foods. Kids Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/make-a-fresh-start-with-spring-foods

USDA SNAP-Ed Connection. Seasonal Produce Guide. https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide

USDA SNAP-Ed Connection. Spring Recipes.
https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/nutrition-education/snap-ed-recipes/spring-recipes

Group of diverse volunteers

And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.
~ Louis Armstrong

Being environmentally well means “recognizing the responsibility to preserve, protect, and improve the environment and appreciating your connection to nature.” In other words, environmental wellness happens when the different surroundings in your life enhance your health and wellbeing. This includes your home, your workplace, your local community, your natural surroundings, and the planet.

Three aspects of environmental wellness include: paying attention to the different environments that you spend time in, making an effort to spend time outdoors, and being more sustainable (AKA “going green”).

Health Benefits of Environmental Wellness Across the Lifespan

No matter what your age, research demonstrates the far-ranging health benefits of environmental wellness. For example:

  • Children who play outside in nature develop superior motor skills, balance, and coordination compared to children who play on traditional playgrounds.
  • Teens and young adults report feeling calmer, less stressed, and lower anxiety after spending time in nature.
  • Adults reduce their risk of chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke when they spend time in green space.
  • Senior adults who garden reduce their risk of dementia by 36%, even more than those who walk every day.

How can you start improving your environmental wellness? Commit to spending more time outdoors, being more green in your purchasing decisions, and actively caring for the environment. You can also try these simple activities:

  • Write nature into your schedule. Grab a bag and pick up litter while you are out.
  • Bike or walk rather than drive. If you drive, carpool when possible.
  • Use reusable water bottles, mugs, and shopping bags to limit waste.
  • Add houseplants to your home and work environments to improve indoor air quality and to psychologically link us to nature.
  • Learn about recycling in your community and recycle as much as possible.
  • Avoid purchasing single-use plastic and pack waste-free lunches.
  • Plan your food purchases to avoid food waste and compost food scraps.
  • Encourage local schools to recycle, compost, and host community gardens.
  • Decrease your use of energy and water.
  • Grow native plants to provide shelter and food for wildlife and support pollinators.
  • Donate your time or money to organizations that protect the environment.

Satish Kumar said, “We are nature.” Environmental wellness helps us recognize our connection to the natural world and realize that when we help our environment, we help ourselves. It is important, however, to point out that not everyone has equal access to nature or green environments, due to limited green space, accessibility limitations, safety concerns, and financial resources. We all need to work together not only to protect the natural world but to also ensure that everyone can reap the health benefits of environmental wellness equally.

For More Information:

  • On sustainability, visit the OSU Extension Sustainability website to find Trash-Free Trails, Reducing Your Single Use Plastic Waste, and many other tip sheets. In addition, there are many educational videos as well as a sustainable home tour: https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability
  • On the importance of nature and spending time outdoors, visit the Nature Matters website created by OSU Extension, Warren County: go.osu.edu/nature-matters

Written by Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60@osu.edu.

Reviewed by Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Photo Credit: Image by rawpixel.com

References:

Bickel, N. B. (2021, September 13). Youth report feeling physically, mentally better after spending time in nature. University of Michigan Health. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/youth-report-feeling-physically-mentally-better-after-spending-time-nature

Ingunn Fjørtoft. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.14.2.0021

Kumar, S. (2019). Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well. New Society Publishers.

Melnyk, B. M., and Neale, S. (2018, January). Nine dimensions of wellness. American Nurse Today, 13 (1). https://www.myamericannurse.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ant1-Wellness-1218.pdf

Simons, L. A., Simons, J., McCallum, J., & Friedlander, Y. (2006). Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo study of the elderly. The Medical Journal of Australia, 184(2), 68–70. https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00120.x

Stanton, L. (2021) Ten tips for packing waste-free lunches. Ohio State University Extension. https://go.osu.edu/waste-free-lunches

Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628–637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.030

Meat substitutes, such as tofu or soy protein, have existed since the 1960s and often resemble the meat they are replacing. However, plant-based meat alternatives have become more common on your grocery store shelves and often do not resemble meat. As they are more widely available, you might be curious about adding them to your menu rotation. Here are a few suggestions for trying a meat substitute:

Consider making your own. Often these plant-based “meats” are made of familiar ingredients such as cauliflower, beans, mushrooms, or tofu. You can make your dishes meatless by substituting things like chicken for chickpeas. Or you can try making your meatless burger by combining vegetables you enjoy with black beans and rice.  This lentil burger from Celebrate Your Plate is easy and full of simple ingredients.

Read the labels on meatless products carefully. Meatless products are often higher in fiber, calcium, and iron compared to traditional meat. Some of these products may also be hiding more sodium than regular meat. Also, some meat alternatives are prepared with coconut oil, which is higher in saturated fat. When looking at the label you will need to consider your personal health goals. Whatever your nutritional goal maybe, be an informed consumer and check the label.

Trying a variety of brands and products may help you find a meat substitute you enjoy. Brands will have different tastes and textures.

Don’t forget other meatless options. Foods such as eggs, lentils, beans, tofu, nut butters, cottage cheese, edamame, noodles made from legume flour, and some mushrooms can also be a good substitute in dishes for meat.

Start with recipes you like and consider small swaps. Try lentils instead of meat in your favorite chili.  A meatless crumble that resembles the look and feel of ground beef could be used in a taco recipe. Trying a new substitute for a familiar food may help make the transition to meatless alternatives easier.

Written by: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County. Barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Amanda Bennett, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Ohio State University Miami County. Bennet.709@osu.edu

Sources:

Curtain, F., & Amp; Grafenauer, S. (2019, October 30). Plant-based meat substitutes in the Flexitarian age: An audit of products on supermarket shelves. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6893642/

Is meatless meat worth a try?  (2022). Strive, Spring 2022, 4.

Lentil burgers. Celebrate your plate.  Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://celebrateyourplate.org/recipes/lentil-burgers

jeans

It’s always great to see folks celebrate Earth Day! While April 22nd is reserved as the official celebration, there are lots of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle all year long.

One area that might not come to mind right away is your closet. Did you know that in 2018, over 11 million tons of textile materials ended up in the landfill? Discarded clothing is the primary textile in this municipal solid waste stream, though footwear, sheets, blankets, towels, carpeting, and furniture textiles are also included in the category of solid waste. In total, textile materials account for nearly 8% of all landfill material.

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. Only 15% of used textiles are recycled, while 85% go to the landfill.

If you want to set a goal this year to minimize your textile waste, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Reduce. Choose not to purchase new clothes and items that you don’t really need. Consider shopping at secondhand stores when you do need to purchase new clothes.
  2. Reuse. If there are clothes or other textiles in your closet, dresser, or house that are in good condition but no longer fit or that you no longer wear, donate them to a local cause or sell them to a secondhand store.
  3. Recycle. If there are clothes in your closet or items in your house that are not in good enough condition to sell or donate (e.g., clothing or other garments with holes, tears, stains, or significant wear), look for a textile recycling option near you. Some retail stores and clothing brands offer textile recycling in-store or online, and some donation centers will accept unusable items for recycling. Depending on their condition, recycled textiles may be repurposed as secondhand clothing, converted into materials such as wiping rags, or broken down into fiber for home insulation, carpet padding and more.

Whether you choose to reduce your clothing purchases or sell, donate, or recycle your used clothing, minimizing textile waste is a goal we can all work toward in 2022!

Sources:

Council for Textile Recycling. The Lifecycle of Secondhand Clothing. https://www.weardonaterecycle.org/images/clothing-life-cycle.png

Harmony Enterprises, Inc. The facts about textile waste. https://harmony1.com/textile-waste-infographic/

United States Environmental Protection Agency (2021). Textiles: Material-Specific Data. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

As springtime activities get into full swing, are you busier than you’d like to be? Do you find it difficult to get everything done on your to do list? Even more importantly, does your calendar match your priorities in life? If not, maybe it is time to de-clutter your schedule and reestablish your priorities.

planner on table with vase of flowers and jar of sidewalk chalk

Many of us wear our busyness like a badge of honor when maybe instead it’s a burden that needs lightened. Organizational and time management skills can help you be more efficient. But even the best time management strategies aren’t enough to tackle a schedule that is just too full. We tend to over-estimate what we can accomplish in a day, and under-estimate the amount of time a certain task will take. Maybe we need to observe our patterns, acknowledge our limits, and clarify the values that add meaning to our lives. These principles apply to both work and personal life.

There is no easy checklist for finding balance, but here are some things to consider:

  • Set priorities. Sometimes that means making tough choices… letting some thing(s) go. Before committing to yet another project or volunteer opportunity or an activity for your child, ask yourself if it fits into your priorities.
father-figure blowing bubbles with 2 little girls on grass
  • Get on the same page. Make sure your family agrees on priorities. Before you add a big commitment to the calendar, check with your spouse or partner to avoid unnecessary time crunches.
  • Acknowledge your limits. As much as we try to do it all, we have limits. Be realistic with your calendar and your energy level on the number of commitments you have, and do the same for the other members of your family to avoid having overscheduled kids.
  • Say no. We probably kick ourselves more often for saying yes when we should have said no (than the other way around). No is such a little word, and yet it holds so much power to free up the schedule.
  • Keep your focus. Reestablishing priorities is a cyclical process as we go through life. Make sure those priorities show up on your daily to do list, as a way of being intentional about keeping your focus on what is most important.

For more information, check out these blog articles about how to create margin in your life and find balance.

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

References:
Carter, S. “Creating Margin in Your Life.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, August 2017.

Carter, S. “Overscheduled Kids.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, May 2017.

Price, R. et al. Time Management: 10 Strategies for Better Time Management (C 1042) University of Georgia Extension, April 2020.

Treber, M. “Balancing Act – Helping You Find Your Balance.” Live Smart Ohio blog, Ohio State University Extension, September 2015.

Is a garden part of your healthy lifestyle? Whether you grow a few plants, a large garden plot, or visit a public garden, the health benefits can be numerous. Being in nature and gardening can improve physical, social, and mental health. In addition to health benefits, gardens are also known to increase property values, and vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens can help you stretch your grocery budget.

Gardens meet many human needs. The National Gardening Association tracks annual trends in gardening. Not surprisingly, the interest in gardening rose in 2020, when many people were at home during the pandemic. For those who were new to gardening, the reasons they gave for starting a garden included: benefits to their mental health, more time to garden due to being home, wanting to beautify their home, engaging in a positive activity, engaging their families in a positive activity, adding more exercise to their lives, and wanting to grow food. Are any of those your reasons for gardening?

Gardens come in all sizes. Just like gardeners come in all ages and sizes, gardens can be new or old, small, or large. The good news is there is no minimum or maximum amount of space or plants to earn the title gardener! Does the thought of a large garden feel overwhelming? Use a small space by planting a few vegetables in containers or design a miniature garden.

Miniature garden with plants and toy decorations

Gardens are for everyone. Gardening is recommended as a health intervention, “because gardens are accessible spaces for all kinds of people, including children, elderly people, and those with a disability” and they can be relatively easily and quickly implemented in rural as well as urban areas. The 2021 National Garden Association survey indicated that although gardening is popular with older generations, the participation of Baby Boomers remained flat or declined last year. Groups who saw a growth in gardening activity included younger families, renters and apartment/condominium dwellers, and black and people of color gardeners. The diversity of gardeners and their experiences can mirror a garden that grows large with various and diverse plants, beneficial insects, and healthy soil.

Good times and hard times. Most often, gardens offer many more good times than hard times, but there can be frustrations throughout the growing season. We cannot control some things like the weather. Other things like watering, identifying insects, choosing the right spot to plant, and catching any problems early can help reduce or alleviate hard times. If you are new to gardening and have questions, many OSU Extension offices have staff and volunteers who can help. If your local, county Extension office does not have an option like a horticulture hotline, all Ohioans are welcome to use the Ask a Master Gardener Volunteer site.

Gardens can be a great spot to relax, learn, grow, and exercise. They can also offer opportunities to meet other people and to share flowers and produce with others. What are your garden plans this year?

Sources:

2021 National Gardening Survey released. (2021). National Gardening Association. https://garden.org/newswire/view/dave/114/2021-National-Gardening-Survey-released/

Ask a Master Gardener Volunteer, Ohio State University Extension https://extension.osu.edu/https%3A/extension.osu.edu/ask-an-expert/ask-master-gardener-volunteer

Darnton, J., and McGuire, L. (2014). What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening? Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Hopkins, K., Coffin, D., Wertheim, F., and Bowie, C. (2008). Bulletin #2762, Growing Vegetables in Container Gardens. The University of Maine, Cooperative Extension Publications. https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/2762e/

Lamp’l, J. (2021). The National Gardening Association’s 2021 survey findings: What gardeners think. Joe Gardener. https://joegardener.com/podcast/national-gardening-association-2021-survey-findings/

Masashi,S., Gaston, K., and Yamaura, Y. (2017). Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports. Volume 5, March 2017, Pages 92-99 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335516301401

Nature Matters, OSU Extension, Warren County https://warren.osu.edu/program-areas/family-and-consumer-sciences/healthy-people/nature-matters

Stechschulte, J. (2014). Project Idea Starter: Miniature Gardens. Ohio State University Extension. https://ohio4h.org/sites/ohio4h/files/imce/books_resources/Self-Determined/e365-02-04%20Miniature%20Gardens.pdf

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County