Your Garden and You: The Benefits

Gardening is hard work, but it is fun and the rewards are even better! Just having a small garden in your backyard can lead to outstanding benefits for the environment, for the community, and for your own personal health. Why not give it a shot?

Having a garden in your backyard can improve the air quality. Plants will clean the air by breathing in air pollutants like carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for a better atmosphere. A good addition to the garden would be flowers that produce pollen and nectar. By planting flowers, you can help support the bee colonies in the surrounding area. Bees need to be able to collect pollen, and we need them to pollinate for the health of our plants. A good flower to plant in the garden in New Mexico to attract native bees is the Mexican Hat.

When we have our own backyard garden we can choose what we put on our plants. We can choose to keep our garden free of pesticides. The website Sustainable Baby Steps talks about the harmful health risks of some commercial synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers can raise the level of nitrates out of balance in the soil, and in turn can raise levels in the plant. According to Natasha Gilani, who wrote an article for Home Guides, when the nitrates are transferred into the food we eat it becomes a toxin in our intestines, and could eventually lead to complications with the vascular and respiratory systems.

There are more natural routes we can take to care for our garden. The best substitute for fertilizers is to use compost, which is decomposed organic matter filled with nutrients for the plants and soil. Compost can be either bought or made on your own in the backyard. There are also natural alternatives to insecticides for your plants. Jack DeAngelis from Livingwithbugs.com mentions using neem oil as a natural insecticide. A neem oil and water mixture will stop bugs from eating away at the plant when applied. However, because it is natural, it will wear off much faster and will need to be re-applied to the plant.

Gardening can bring communities together and help feed neighborhoods. When communities come together and grow food, they learn to work together and share the feeling of satisfactions as they accomplish something great together.

The last benefits would be the health benefits to the practice of gardening. Gardening can lower stress levels and raise self esteem. Gardening for only 30 minutes a day can lower cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone. Having high levels of cortisol has been linked to obesity and heart disease. Gardening also carries out a major role for our brain. Gardening involves so many “critical functions,” like problem solving, strength, increasing the dexterity of our hands, and constant learning. Since gardening exercises the brain so well, gardening has been linked to lowering the chance of dementia and Alzheimer’s. This concept is termed “horticulture therapy.” Horticulture therapy incorporates sciences into the practice of gardening to rehabilitate the mind. There are a range of different types of gardening in horticulture to best fit patients’ needs. Gardening can be a fantastic therapy with the time spent outside, working hard. Being close to nature and living things can lower levels of depression.

So, why not start a garden in your backyard? Doing so can bring so many benefits to the environment and can make you feel better about yourself, and your overall health will be better. Only good can come from gardening.

-Posted by Kyle

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