Many smallholders are struggling at the moment, so we say work in the garden, it’s good for you.

The cost of living, load shedding, political dissatisfaction, job losses are issues that are getting to all of us. But a practical way to improve your mental health lies in your garden.

Neurologist Dr Oliver Sacks maintained that we are in fact hardwired to work outdoors. “Hortophilia, the desire to interact with, manage, and tend nature, is also deeply instilled in us. … The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in the brain’s physiology, and perhaps even its structure.”

Gardening strengthens attention span and concentration, which helps us to cope with the noise and information of modern life.

Another physical improvement is due to the fact that you are breathing fresh air. Plants play an important role in cleaning the air and carbon sequestration, so you are making your small contribution in the battle against global warming.

Get your hands dirty – it’s good for you!

work in the garden
There are surprising benefits to getting your hands dirty.

There is also a benefit in physically getting your hands dirty in the garden. We know that soil has its own microbiome and research has revealed that our contact with it has value for our own immune systems, gut biomes and general quality of life.

Neuroscience research shows that our gut microbiomes are healthier if they are exposed to the ancient parasites, fungi, and bacteria that are found in soil, which also ward off anxiety and depression.

Our doctors recommend gardening as a form of exercise. Thirty minutes a day will improve your fitness and the health of your heart, lungs, joints and muscles, plus help lower the risk of developing dementia.

The physical activity improves the flow of blood to the brain, which in turn leads to an increase in release of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine.

The vegetables that you choose to grow can also affect your mental state. Stock your vegetable gardens with feel-good foods that are good for brain health.

Swap seeds and seedlings with your neighbours. This helps establish a sense of community.

The benefits of growing vegetables are obvious.  It is more economical. The flavour of fresh produce is incomparable to the not such fresh stuff you buy in shops. Really fresh vegetables carry great health benefits you also know exactly what has gone into the soil to produce this bounty.

And it’s spring! You don’t only need to plant vegetables. Nobody is immune to the uplifting effect of beautiful flowers, plants, shrubs and trees.

To read other articles about growing vegetables and crops click here.

To receive all our notices and each edition of SA Smallholder register here.

Photographs from Unsplash.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *