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“I was just sittin’ here enjoyin’ the company.  Plants got a lot to say, if you take the time to listen.” – Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.

Are you looking to spend more time with your family?  Want to become more physically active?  How about needing to go to a place for peace, tranquility and relaxation?  Do you need to adopt better health habits?  Well, if you take the time to stop and “listen,” gardening just might be the activity you are looking for!

The health benefits of gardening include:garden pic

  • Increasing the chances of eating the amount of produce recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Consuming more plant-based foods which are associated with less risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  • Becoming more physically active to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
  • Strengthening bones and muscles.
  • Improving physical functioning in older adults: helps keep hands strong and agile.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Being around nature which has the potential to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.

Research and studies show the following:

  • Gardening 3-5 times a week has been found to be a good strategy to combat obesity and lower stress.
  • Patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain taking part in horticultural therapy programs experience an improved ability to cope with chronic pain.
  • Children with attention deficit disorder who play in grassy, outdoor spaces have less severe symptoms than those who play in windowless, indoor settings.
  • Patients with clinical depression who participated in routine therapeutic gardening activities experienced a reduction of severity of depression and increased attentional capacity —benefits that lasted up to three months after the program ended.
  • Dementia patients who have access to gardens are less likely to display aggression or suffer injuries, and they display improved sleep patterns, balanced hormones and decreased agitation.

What are some additional benefits of Gardening?

  • Nutrition Awareness – Impacting positive food choices.
  • Environmental Awareness – Teaching children about their environment. “Gardens are often the most accessible places for children to learn about nature’s beaugard picty, interconnections, power, fragility, and solace.” (Heffernan, M. (1994).
  • Life Skills – Increasing appreciation for nature, responsibility and development of family involvement.
  • Health and Wellness – Improving the quality of life.
  • Community Building and Social Connections through Community Gardens – Developing positive and friendly interactions with neighbors.

Some final thoughts about Gardening

“Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.” – Dr. Allan Armitage

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” – Margaret Atwood

“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” – Alfred Austin

Yes, Eeyore, we need to “listen” because plants have a lot to say!

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Pamela Bennett, Extension Educator, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, bennett.27@osu.edu

Sources:

The Ohio State University.  College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. News:  Chow Line:  Working in garden yields multiple benefits. https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/chow-line-working-in-garden-yields-multiple-benefits

The Ohio State University.  College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
News:  New OARDC Garden Will Help Study Links Between Plants and Health.
https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/new-oardc-garden-will-help-study-links-between-plants-and-health

 

Michigan State University Extension.  What are the physical and mental benefits of gardening?  http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/what_are_the_physical_and_mental_benefits_of_gardening

Cornell University.  College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.  Learn, Garden & Reflect with Cornell Garden-Based Learning.
http://gardening.cals.cornell.edu

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.    https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

 

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Garden

USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative has some great gardening tips to help you get started. Learn how you can make having a garden a fun and positive family activity.

Visit their website http://go.osu.edu/PeoplesGarden for recipes, tips and ideas for starting a garden.

• Make It A Family Affair.
Enlist your family as you select seeds and plants. It is a fun way to spend time together. You’ll be physically active as you plant, weed and harvest your garden.
• Gardening To Fit Your Space.
A good gardening space receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. Consider container gardening on your porch or balcony if you’re low on outdoor space.
• Sowing Into Good Ground.
Mulch the soil around your plants to improve your soil quality, lock in moisture, and keep out weeds.
• Map it Out.
Start small when deciding what you would like to grow. Consider foods your family enjoys and the space you have available. If you buy starter plants (ready to put in the ground) and don’t need all of them, share with a friend. For example, you may not need six zucchini plants. Go together and buy the packets and split the costs.
• Plant Your Favorites.
Your local Cooperative Extension office is a great resource for finding out which crops are specific to your local growing region. Here are some easy-growing crops for your kitchen garden:

• Lettuce
• Onions
• Radishes
• Peppers
• Tomatoes
• Collards
• Peas
• Herbs
Herb Garden

Think Spring and Start a Garden!

Source: USDA, The People’s Garden Initiative retrieved from http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/?navid=PEOPLES_GARDEN
Top Photo from USDA The People’s Garden Initiative website

Additional Gardening Resources:
Ohio State University Ohio Line http://ohioline.osu.edu/ Use the search option to find helpful information.

Container Vegetable Gardening Fact Sheet http://go.osu.edu/containergarden

Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers http://go.osu.edu/cucumberstomatoes

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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Start Your GardenAre you interested in maintaining your weight or even losing a few pounds this spring? Could you use some encouragement and guidance but don’t have time to attend classes? Want tips to help you grow herbs, start a garden or eat more local foods? Does this sound interesting to you?

If so, give our Spring Live Healthy Live Well Email wellness challenge a try.

“Spring Live Healthy Live Well Challenge” is an on-line challenge designed to help adult participants get fit by encouraging regular physical activity, nutrition, and wellness activities. Participants will receive e-communications twice each week, containing nutrition, health and fitness tips. Additional food and activity logs will be available for download to help participants track their progress. They will also have access to supplemental information available on Blogs and Facebook.

Sign up by following this link to enroll: http://go.osu.edu/SpringPick

If you’ve joined us on other challenges, you’ll see new themes during this spring challenge. We will learn about these topics and be encouraged to participate in wellness behaviors.

• Vegetables and Fruits – adding more of these foods to your diet.
• Fitness Focus Tips – finding ways to move more.
• Root Vegetables – trying new recipes for veggies and fruits.
• Local Foods – visiting a Farmers’ Market or the local foods section of your store.
• Gardening – planting an herb, vegetable or fruit in a container or plot garden.
• Seasoning with Herbs – using herbs instead of salt to season foods.
• Sunscreen – wearing sun protection or sunscreen every day.

Once you register, you will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of April 7, 2014. While Facebook™ will be utilized; participants only need to have an email address.

The program is funded by Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners Cooperating.

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

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Before the days of supermarkets, many families relied on growing their own vegetables and preserving them for use over the long winter months.

If you’re thinking about putting in a vegetable garden this season, you’ll have plenty of company. Raising edible plants is the fastest-growing trend in gardening. Whether you hope to save money on your grocery bill, reduce fears about food safety, or just enjoy the flavor of straight-from-the-garden freshness, growing your own vegetables can be very rewarding.

Growing an edible family garden is a great way to get your children excited about eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, it is a great way for children to get exercise and spend time outdoors in an activity the whole family can benefit from.MP900202043

If you teach children to garden, they will experience a joy that will be with them the rest of their lives. However, many kids grow up today without the benefit of having a garden or farming background and access to free play outdoors. They often don’t know what to do in a garden. That’s where parents and grandparents come in. Adults can help kids learn about growing plants in a fun and engaging way. Plus, it will be a special time together outdoors, exploring the land, food, and flowers.

To encourage children to garden, it is important to have them grow vegetables that will mature quickly so that they can see the results of their efforts right away.

From the first crisp carrots of early summer to the last sweet squash of fall, a vegetable garden is a constantly changing delight. There is the pleasure of anticipation in watching as beets and carrots shoulder their way into view, beans swell in their pods, cucumbers lengthen and corn put out silky tassels. Then there is the enjoyment of consuming the harvest, fresh-picked and full of flavor.

As you make plans for a vegetable garden, there’s no better advice than this: Start small. It’s easy to get carried away during spring planting season when good intentions and enthusiasm are riding high. That jumbo veggie patch that makes you swell with pride in May can become an unmanageable, weedy monster in the hot and sweaty days of summer.

Happy Gardening!

Written by: Cynthia R. Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by: Joyce Shriner, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Hocking County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by: Jennifer Lindimore, Ohio State University Extension Office Associate, Morgan County, Buckeye Hills EERA

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