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How Does Your Garden Grow

How Does Your Garden Grow? guest posting by Maria Cannon

As it turns out, you don’t need silver bells and maids to grow a great garden. Doing it yourself is more rewarding and your harvest may be more valuable than precious metals.

Your backyard ER

Of course, you wouldn’t turn to a tomato for urgent health care needs, but many common garden plants have well-known health benefits. Spinach, for example, contains beta-carotene and riboflavin, which will help improve your cardiovascular and nervous systems. Eating spinach and other leafy greens can help lower your blood pressure and aid in restoring or maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. The Aloe Vera plant is another backyard miracle that can be used to help soothe skin and, thanks to a number of antibiotic properties, makes an excellent all-natural face wash when mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and almond milk. (Read more on Aloe Vera’s healing properties in this article posted by Advanced Tissue.)

Nature nurtures

Eating fruits and vegetables is good for both your mental and physical health. The USDA agrees and even goes as far as to claim that people who maintain a healthy diet, including ample of produce, may have, “a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.” And there is plenty of powerful evidence to back that up. Harvard Medical School reports that a veggie-rich diet, when appropriately planned, is nutritionally balanced and provides a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber, each of which is associated with overall good health. Gardening in itself is a great mood stabilizer thanks to the feel good chemicals released from this type of low-impact exercise. In fact, therapeutic gardens have been used since at least the 1800s to help speed the recovery of mental health patients.

Summer garden basics

If you’re new to gardening, you’ll want to ensure that you have a good spot of earth to work. Look for a location that gets at least six hours of sunshine each day with well-drained soil. Some flowers, and even certain edible plants, also work well in shaded areas and in small spaces, such as containers on a patio or covered balcony. Gather the appropriate tools, which include well-fitting garden gloves, a rake, shovel, hoe, and hand spade. You may wish to rent a gas-powered tiller for larger areas; small gardens can be worked using a long-handled rotary cultivator, which are available at most big-box hardware stores. Starting from seeds can be tricky and time-consuming, so stick with transplantable varieties until you get the hang of it.

Maintaining your masterpiece

Many homeowner associations restrict what plants can be grown in an area due to their invasive or unattractive nature. You may be able to get around this by selecting varieties that are both aesthetically pleasing and edible. Plants that get out of control, like squash, which offers up wide leaves and bright yellow blooms in late spring, should be contained in decorative planters. You can incorporate dwarf fruit trees and berry bushes in your landscape plan for an attractive accent that doubles as your personal snack bar. Since most edibles die out or go dormant in the fall, intermingle a variety of perennial plants, evergreen shrubbery, and man-made accoutrements in your design. Maintain your garden by controlling weeds and watching for overgrowth. Don’t forget to share the bounty with your friends and neighbors! Check out these tips for growing a front yard edible garden.

With a little luck, hard work, and perseverance, you (and your neighbors) will enjoy months of fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables. You will reap the rewards of better health and a more diverse diet and, hopefully, learn to harness the power of nature to relax and unwind.

Thanks for that Maria.  In house we try to use minimum tillage at Garden Cottage, so aren’t so keen on heavy cultuvation unless it’s to start a system where the soil is initially compacted… and even then there are other options… Graham

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