Now that Mother’s Day has passed, Colorado is considered “in the clear” for gardening. Of course, living in Colorado means we can never guarantee the weather, but that shouldn’t keep us from getting our hands in the dirt! Gardening has many great health benefits for dirt lovers of all ages.
One of the most obvious benefits is easy access to healthy food. Not only is the produce you grow the freshest possible, but when you grow it yourself, you can also rest assured knowing where it came from. Organic produce is extremely affordable when it comes from your own garden!
Gardening is also good for your mind, heart, and happiness. Whether it is growing food or tending to a flower garden, getting your hands in the dirt can decrease stress, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and even improve symptoms of depression and lower the risk of dementia. It puts you outside in the fresh air and sunshine, showering you with Vitamin D which helps improve mood. It increases hand strength and dexterity and can boost your immune system too.
Growing plants and food is also great for kids. It is always fun to get dirty, watch something grow from a seed and there is nothing quite like eating a strawberry or tomato right off your own plant! Kids get more from gardening than you may expect, however. It isn’t all fun and dirt. Gardening can help improve science skills, improve nutrition knowledge, promote healthy eating, and instill an appreciation and respect for nature. Gardening with friends or at school can help boost social skills and cooperation, even for the quietest of kids. The sense of accomplishment kids get from seeing something they planted grow gives them a great sense of confidence too.
For some, the idea of starting a garden can seem overwhelming. There are so many options for soil, fertilizers, and seeds. Then there is the idea of watering it regularly, weeding and caring for the plants. But gardening doesn’t have to be all work. You can start small with a garden box or kit that comes complete with everything you need for a few plants. Try putting some herbs in pots first or planting some simple wildflower seeds in an empty bed in your yard. Not everything will turn out perfectly but the point is to get out and try it. Once you’ve planted the seed of gardening, your love for it is sure to grow! Don’t forget to check out www.GetOutdoorsColorado.org for garden programs and activities.