Meet Bear and Kenzi!
These two lovelies are our greenhouse dogs. Kenzi makes sure the place is thoroughly sniffed, and Bear uses his tail to make sure the plants get enough air flow and that we take pet breaks. They are two of the sweetest dogs you might ever meet. In fact, Kenzi even does some canine therapy once in a while.
Canine therapy, and animal therapy in general, has been gaining popularity over the last few years. Many studies have been done regarding the effects animals have on physical, emotional, and mental health. In short, animals improve quality of life, even if it's just a fish tank!
Though plants may not cuddle with you or float through the water flashing their pretty fins, plants have been shown to improve quality of life. Science has even taken this on and done studies in nursing homes, comparing the difference between residents who have plants to take care of and those who didn't. Those with plants to care for reported being more satisfied in their quality of life. The plants gave a sense of responsibility for another living thing, and brought a bit of life into their space.
But, most of us aren't in a nursing home...what can plants do for us? Well, keeping with the theme of the last post, here are 7 Things Plants Will Do For You:
1. They get you outside more often
I know I've said it before, but I get so excited to get outside and into my garden come spring. That desire to be outside, watch my plants grow, care for them, and harvest from them doesn't die in June either. All spring, summer, and fall, I make multiple trips outside to just look at my plants, pull a few weeds, or cut a few flowers. Spring sees me cleaning up the debris from the winter, summer sees me tending and enjoying, and fall sees me preparing my flower babies for winter. As an article for the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture states "people who spend more time outside in nature have better mental health and a more positive outlook on life." So in this case, the benefit comes from being outside, but the draw outdoors are my plants.
4. They improve your mental health
5. Indoor plants improve air quality
Since we are stocking some plants that would do well outdoors as well as indoors this year, I thought this would be a good one to include. Many of us know the significance trees and other plants have on the oxygen levels in an area. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most important forests in the world as it generates a huge amount of oxygen and releases it into the atmosphere. On a small scale, plants will do this in your home. Just like all living things, plants respire, or breathe. But what plants breath in is carbon dioxide, which is what we breath out. Their natural design is to take our waste and turn it back into a life-giving substance! How amazing is that!?
7. Gardening is therapeutic
Gardening is an act of nurturing. Physical exertion along with being outside, lowering your stress, increasing your mental capacity, and busying your hands for a constructive purpose are the hall marks of therapy. It's the same list you will see when it comes to other forms of therapy. Gardening encourages creativity, it shows you the product of your efforts, it is work, it is beautiful, it is natural.
So if you're looking to start something new, or just need a reason to walk into the greenhouse, here you have it!
Keep calm and garden on!
1. "Health and well-being benefits of plants" by Ellison Chair in International Floriculture
2. "Think you don't need houseplants? Science says different" by Noma Nazish. Forbes. February 10, 2018.
3. "Why indoor plants make you feel better" by Sophie Lee. NBC News. July 13, 2017
Over the past few weeks I have been repeatedly coming back to the idea of homesteading. The idea has intrigued me for a long time, but I know I would never last long-term...I like my conveniences a little too much!
As defined by the trusty Wikipedia, homesteading "is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency...characterized by subsistence agriculture [and] home preservation of food..." Basically, it is being able to be completely self-sufficient by producing everything you need for yourself including food and energy. Wouldn't that be handy right about now!
So, with this being said, I decided to look up why people decide to make homesteading their lifestyle, and I found a list called 7 Reasons to Start Homesteading Today. Here are the Cole's Notes:
Well, here are my 7 Reasons to Have a Garden:
1. It connects you with your food
2. It tastes good
3. Gardening is easy on the budget
4. Gardening provides security in hard times
5. It's hard
Yeah, I'm putting this one on my list too. Gardening doesn't have to be hard, but to do it well it takes work. Growing up, my parents and grandparents shared a garden plot at Eden's community gardens. We had fantastic produce each year, and often more than we needed. What I didn't know at the time was when my grandpa couldn't sleep, he and grandma would go to the garden to water and putz around--probably pulled some weeds and checked on all the plants, too. Then came the time to harvest, and we would spend hours in the hot sun picking cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, carrots, you name it! Then we would make pickles, tomato sauce, salsa, and other preserves, which seemed to take forever when I was 10. My sister and I probably did a fair bit of complaining too...but it taught us a lot!
7. Gardening will change your life
I had always thought that gardening was just a lot of work and wasn't something I planned to do when I set out on my own. Well, here I am, bit by the gardening bug bad! I love my fresh produce. I love watching my plants grow! I love taking care of them!
So, at the risk of sounding corny, Keep Calm and Garden On!
This year looks a little different....we may even be wondering if we will be able to get the plants we want and need. On the other end of the spectrum, we may be thinking about the self-sufficiency that gardening offers.
There's no denying it; in this uncertain time where we don't know what next month, next week--even tomorrow--will bring, there is a certain satisfaction knowing you can walk out your door, pick a tomato, and eat it. All without standing in line 6-10 feet away from other people, talking to the cashier behind plexiglass, and using a bottle of hand sanitizer before you get back into your vehicle. You know where this tomato came from, who touched it, and how it was cared for.
I could go on for pages about the nutritional benefits of harvesting your own produce, but that's not where I want to focus today...I want to think about that beautiful, black, glorious, dirty dirt!
Well...there's a theory out there called the Hygiene Hypothesis. The basic idea of this is that daily exposure to things like dirt, pets, and other everyday germs is actually good for you; it helps build up your tolerance to disease and infection. (If you are interested in some of the more Science-based information, this is a good article)
Adding to this, playing in dirt has the potential to lower your stress and anxiety, improve your digestion, and some even claim it is a natural anti-depressant. Think about it: when you "play" in dirt, you are outside in the fresh air, participating in low-impact activity, and creating something you can feel good about. If that doesn't release a whole bunch of endorphins, I don't know what will!
It's more than food and pretty things!
I'm so incredibly grateful that Spring isn't cancelled! It's a season of hope, new life, and excitement. Even amid the chaos and shifting landscape, there is something calming and exciting about the snow melting and waiting for the first shoots to poke out of the ground. I look forward to the creative outlet the blank canvas of dirt presents anew every year and the countless hours I spend meandering through my garden, pulling weeds here and trimming a plant there, hoping the rabbits haven't done too much damage over the winter.
Amid chaos, there is still consistency and continuity in our amazing Manitoba seasons.