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Garden Your Way to a Happy, Healthy Life

Brenna Stein, Dietetic Intern –NDSU Extension Service

Ready, Set, Grow! April is National Garden Month, and there’s no better way to celebrate spring than to get outside and get your hands dirty! Gardening is a great way to show everybody your colorful side with beautiful flowers or your practical side with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide for your family. These are some benefits of gardening and tips if you are new to gardening.

  • Stress relief –Gardening helps relieve stress and also improves self-esteem. Gardening can reduce stress through exposure to nature, mental focus and meditation, and personal creativity.
  • Exercise –Gardening is a great way to get moving and can give a person a moderate amount of physical activity. It gives all major muscle groups a good workout including your legs, arms, buttocks, stomach, neck and back.
  • Mental health –Gardening may reduce your risk for dementia. It can help people cope with issues such as anxiety, depression, and even eating disorders. Gardens are peaceful and can be a place for individuals to think or talk.
  • Immunity –The “friendly” soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, common in garden soil and absorbed by inhalation or ingestion on vegetables, has been found to alleviate symptoms of psoriasis, allergies and asthma.
  • Nutrition –People who garden eat more fruits and vegetables than people who do not. Growing your own fruits and vegetables ensures that you get the most nutrients from the freshest and ripest produce around.
Fruits and Vegetables to Plant in May
Summer squash

New to gardening? Follow these tips to get started on your way to a successful garden!

  • Plan your garden. Decide what you want to grow and determine how much space you will need.
  • Choose a sunny location. Plants need at least four to six hours of sun each day.
  • Start with the soil. This is the most important part of your garden and most soil around houses isn’t ideal for plants. Add organic matter or compost to the soil. Add two to three weeks before you plan to plant any seeds so it has time to mix.
  • Don’t overdo it. If this is your first garden, keep it small and manageable so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Water seeds and plants in the early morning or at dusk so that less water evaporates.
  • Use stakes, string or trellises to support heavy and/or vine plants.
  • Weed as needed. After plants are established, cover the ground plants with mulch to help keep weeds away and the ground moist.
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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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